Parenting Questions & Answers!
Welcome to our Questions & Answers page on ADHD/ADD. Currently we welcome requests for behavior charts or suggestions for content but do not directly answer specific parenting questions. Click on a question below to see the full question and answer.
Dee, without more information, we can only give you general ideas of how to work with your son. Has your son been formally diagnosed with ADD and is he taking any medication? ADD can certainly make it difficult for a child to follow through with positive behavior.
As we've said in the past, kids with ADD/ADHD need additional structure and often respond positively to behavior charts. Because of your son's age and short attention span, you may want to work on one behavior at a time so you don't overwhelm him. Check out some of our single behavior charts to target one behavior. For example, if your son has been backtalking as well as leaving his toys out, you should first take 1-2 weeks and just work on backtalking. Then take the next couple weeks and target leaving toys out. Check out our page on using behavior charts correctly and check out our example charts. Considering his ADD, you may want to have a daily reward set up...for example, he could pick out something from a treat box. Immediate, daily rewards work better with kids with ADD/ADHD.
Avoid power struggles with your son. The key to parenting is to stay calm and set up clear consequences for negative behaviors. Don't argue about the behavior, just dole out the consequence. In addition to the behavior chart, make a list of clear, reasonable consequences for your son's negative behaviors. Involve him in the process. What does he think would be negative consequences for some of his difficult behaviors? Kids are often harder on themselves so make sure that you adjust the consequences to be reasonable and fair.
In addition, don't forget to give him positive feedback when you notice any behaviors you want to encourage. Kids respond amazingly well to positive feedback. Check out our list of "75 Ways To Say Good Job" for some ideas of positive statements.
Also, check out our articles on parenting ADD/ADHD kids. We have Tips For Parenting ADHD And Spirited Kids, and ADHD And Children: Unlocking The Secrets To Good Behavior. Best of luck with your son!!
There is no easy answer as different techniques work for different kids. Is your child on medication for ADHD? If so, you should be working closely with your child's physician to make sure his medication levels are appropriate and stable. Next, are you working with school personnel? You need to work closely with teachers and school counselors so you can all have a consistent approach with your son. Set up a system of school/home communication. For instance, a weekly call home from the teacher at the same time/day each week. Or, have a daily written communication form. Any behavior plans or reward systems should be implemented at school as well as home. Compare notes with school personnel as to how your child behaves at school versus at home. If he is having more difficulty completing assignments at home, he may have too many distractions. You may want to check out our article on Homework Tips for Kids and Teens.
Keep his work environment calm and free of distractions and noise. Set up a homework time that will be the same each day. You might want to set up a reward system for completing weekly or even daily assignments.
And here are some tips for helping him stay organized:
*Use a "homework folder" for your child to put all completed assignments to transfer back to his teacher.
*Check your child's list of assignments first thing when he gets home from school and check off each assignment as it's completed. We have just added homework checklists to our site. You can find them here!
*Color code books, binders, folders so your child can easily identify what to bring home for assignments. For example, math will all have blue stickers, social studies will all have red stickers, etc.
*Again, communicate with your child's teacher to find out his daily assignments. You can do this in writing, email, or via a school website. Sign off on a daily sheet that shows you have checked your child's assignments and they are complete.
*Get your child an agenda to record all his assignments. Many schools provide these automatically as part of the school based supplies. If your child doesn't have one, you can easily find one at a local office supply store such as Staples. Or, you can use our homework checklist if that helps.
Best of luck with your helping your son to stay on task! We also have some great articles with tips for parenting kids with ADHD: Tips For Parenting ADHD and Spirited Kids and ADHD And Children: Unlocking The Secrets To Good Behavior.
Without a couple pieces of information, your situation is a bit tough to address. First, how old is your son? Next, what was the reason he went off his medication? If the medication was helping your son with his impulsive behavior, it may be wise to meet with a mental health professional to discuss medication options. A trained mental health professional who can also prescribe medication is the best option as she can provide support and counseling as well. That would be the first recommendation.
Glad to hear that things are going better at school. As you've pointed out, your son does better in a structured environment and school provides that structure. You definitely want a babysitter who can manage your child's behavior effectively. Make sure that your son and the babysitter have many structured activities planned. You may have to make up a small schedule to structure every minute of their time. For instance, 3-4pm go to the park and ride bikes, 4-5pm come home and play a board game, 5-6pm eat dinner and clean the dishes, 6-8pm watch a movie, 8-8:30pm get ready for bed and go to bed.
If you have the time structured, then you can make an incentive chart for your son that matches the activities he will do with the babysitter. Your babysitter can give him a sticker on the chart when he leaves the park nicely, plays the game appropriately, eats dinner and helps clean up, gets ready for bed and goes to bed on time. It's a bit of work for you, but structure sounds effective for him. And he will know that if he puts his fist up at the babysitter, he won't get a sticker for that activity. For instance, if she asks him to get his pajamas on, and he puts his fist up, he doesn't get a sticker for going to bed nicely. Have a fun reward set up if he gets most of his stickers. Rewards that work well are activities with a special person like going out for pizza, going out for ice cream, going to the park or a movie, etc.
In addition, you may have to have a chart set up for him at camp. Unfortunately, individuals who love kids but don't always have good child management skills staff many summer camps. And, there is often some unstructured free time during longer camps. This is the time your boy may struggle with his behavior. First, try to arrange for him to participate in camps that are as structured as possible. Meet with camp directors and staff to make sure you know the management style and consequences set up for kids. Make sure that the time is very structured for your boy. And, you can have a chart set up for him that allows him to earn a reward on a daily basis if he follows the camp rules and behaves appropriately.
Finally, as a parent, you are going to have to put some extra time and effort into research and planning before leaving your child with a babysitter or in a camp. Your extra efforts will indeed pay off when you see his behavior improve. But, most importantly, you should find support in the form of a child and family counselor. It's not easy managing a child with special needs and a counselor can provide parenting support, tips, and even help you make up those charts in addition to assessing your child for medication. Also, you may want to check out our article entitled, Tips For Parenting ADHD and Spirited Kids.
Remember that you're talking about an 8 year old boy! It's very normal for a child his age to have a lot of energy. After a long day at school, he may just need to unwind at home after sitting much of the day. And that may take the form of some very energetic behavior! Also, you were not specific enough in mentioning his school difficulties. There can be all sorts of reasons why a child does poorly in school. You shouldn't jump to the conclusion that it's related to ADHD. If you truly have concerns about ADHD, you need to meet with your child's teacher and the school counselor. The school counselor should know the symptoms of ADHD and will be a great resource if you have any questions. They may suggest that your son be evaluated by a professional such as the school psychologist. Aside from your concerns about ADHD, a meeting with his teacher should be in order if he is not doing well in school. It's important to be very sure of an ADHD diagnosis before assuming that your son has this condition. Until he is officially diagnosed, consider him a very active child. You may need to provide some outlets for his energy. Is he interested in organized sports or gymnastics? Do you have a YMCA close by where he can use an open gym? If he goes to daycare, do they provide enough stimulation and opportunities for physical activity? Get in touch soon with your school personnel and best of luck with your son!