Today we will be going over some general and educational insights on ADHD and in the next blog we will be providing helpful strategies to support a child with ADHD.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a behavioural condition that makes focusing on everyday requests or schedules challenging for children. In ADHD, children have functionally different brains from the other kids, which can affect the ability to sit still and self-control. ADD is a type of ADHD that doesn't involve constant movement and fidgeting and seems to be more the inattentive character.
Signs of ADHD
Interrupting, trouble waiting their turn, problems playing quietly
Emotional turmoil, quick temper, difficulties relaxing
Fidgeting, running around or difficulty sitting still
Avoiding or unfinished tasks, lack of focus, forgetfulness, unorganized
Self-focused behaviour, what looks like an inability to recognize other people's needs and desires.
Even if their disorder makes them more prone to impulsive behaviour, children with ADHD can still learn what is acceptable and what isn’t. A lot of children that struggle with ADHD get relief through medication, which may be the first step in the child’s treatment. The ones most widely used to treat ADHD include:
Stimulants. This group of drugs has treated ADHD for several decades. These medicines might help the child focus its thoughts and ignore distractions. They’re used to treat moderate and severe ADHD. They may be helpful for children, teens, and adults who have a hard time at school, work, or home. Some stimulants are approved for use in children over age 3. Others are approved for children over age 6.
Non-stimulants. In cases where stimulants don’t work or cause unpleasant side effects, non-stimulants might help. These medications can improve symptoms like concentration and impulse control.
Antidepressants. People with ADHD often have depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder too. They may take an antidepressant to control mental health issues or other conditions along with a stimulant for ADHD.
Please consult with your doctor for potential side effects.
There are 2 basic principles that can be supportive for a child with ADHD in their behaviour and actions:
Encouraging and rewarding good behaviour, also known as positive reinforcement.
The focus is on what the child is doing right rather than concentrating on what the child is doing wrong. Children shall be rewarded for good rules you set in place. This can be accomplished using a points system.
For example, allow your child to accrue points for good behaviour that can be redeemed for spending money, time in front of the TV, or a new video game. If you have a list of house rules, write them down and put them where they’re easy to see. Repetition and positive reinforcement can help your child better understand your rules.
Removing rewards by following bad behaviour with appropriate consequences.
These consequences have to be realistic and doable. Only then are we able to teach our child in healthy ways that unfitting actions have consequences. By creating realistic rules and consequences, children learn and are able to achieve clear outcomes and control the impulse to act on negative behaviour. Let’s keep in mind that children with ADHD may not adapt to change as well as others. We must learn to allow our child to make mistakes as it learns. Odd behaviours that aren’t detrimental to our child or anyone else should be accepted as part of the child’s individual personality. It’s ultimately harmful to discourage the child’s quirky behaviours just because we think they are unusual.
I’m Jessica Dubiel and a Counselling Intern at McAtee Psychology. I am currently working on positive psychology, which is the practice of focusing on what is right in people rather than what is wrong with them. I struggled with sadness and low self-esteem in my younger years and thereafter, developed a passion for physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. I have a love of learning and curiosity for life and people and the intention to empower youth and adults to feel motivated and inspired in their lives.
McAtee Psychology is a private family psychology practice offering counselling, assessment, and therapeutic services to families. Our services include counselling and assessment for individuals, couples, and children & teens. Our mission is to help you and your family create a more rich, connected, and meaningful life.
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