ADHD: Advice to support your primary school aged child at home
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  • Large days of the week wall diary- write in the things your child
       needs to remember for that particular day, for example PE days,
       reading books, spellings etc.
       You can do this with your child or for your child depending on their
       age and engagement. Allow your child to rub it off once completed
       as this enhances the feeling of accomplishment.
  • Prepare the schoolbag the night before
       this may seem like an obvious one but it is often missed and makes
       a massive difference for the rush of the morning. It reduces morning
       stress and anxiety for both parent and child.
  • Checklist – create a morning checklist where you can print this out and the child ticks them off once they have completed what they need to do. For example, brush teeth, tidy bed, brush hair etc.
  • Provide clear instructions (rubrics/rules), which clearly explains what the expectations and responsibilities are. Clear examples decreases ambiguity and enhances engagement and completion of task. For example, instructions like “go and tidy your room well” or “do your homework nicely” does not give any guidance on the expectation. You will enhance your child’s independence by providing a clear visual way on how they can succeed on a given task. You can even give your rubrics a score as a reward method.
 
  • Breaking down of tasks – break down each activity into smaller achievable tasks. Here you could introduce small rewards for each section completed as opposed to waiting until the end of the whole activity is completed. Those with ADHD find delaying gratification difficult and need support with extra motivation. Therefore, including little meaningful rewards in between tasks supports the competition and focus on tasks.
  • Regular communication with school – this is really important as often we wait until things are too difficult and then it is harder to control or even understand what is happening.
  • Calming down zones – This would be a place that helps your child regulate their feelings and should be surrounded with specific things that enhances the ability for your child to accomplish this. For example, specific smells, music, teddies, poof etc.
  • Mindfulness techniques – The goal of mindfulness is to support an individual to keep grounded/regulated. A simple technique you could use is to ask your child to take a deep breath and then find something in the room. This may support your child to focus on something other than their worries or stresses.
  • Sensory diet – these are planned activities, sensory input, that your child needs to enhance their sense of balance throughout their day. For example, some children may crave deep pressure, fast movements, or even a break from lights. Understanding your child’s sensory profile (what sensory input supports them keeping balanced) will support you in exposing your child to activities that help them to regulate their feelings and enhance their focus. Please check out our page on Sensory Processing for further information.
  • Exercise.
  • Sleeping routine
According to the Sleep Association up to 50% of those with ADHD experience challenges with sleeping. This percentage is believed to get worst in adulthood. Generally, the main issue is getting to sleep. This then has a ripple effect, impacting on the quality and quantity of sleep an individual has, reducing the amount of time then impacts you getting up in the morning as well as a person’s performance throughout the day.  The internal rhythm of the ADHD person, or internal clock is delayed so it needs to be retrained to your child’s needs.
 
Try some of these:
  • Control light exposure: expose your child to lots of light in the morning and avoid it at night. There are some artificial lights that can help create this illusion of natural light.
  • Create bedtime and morning routines and stick to these. This is like creating an internal rhythm for the child’s body clock. It will support your body know when it is time to be alert and when it is time to relax.
  •   Declutter the brain before sleep or also known as “brain dump”. The child could write their thoughts on paper, post it notes, you could write it for them, you could also record it for example. This is a technique that may help reduce racing thoughts before bedtime, it is also great to connect with your child.
  • Reduce use of technology a couple of hours before bedtime. When this cannot be the case turn the blue light filter on to reduce alerting the brain further.
  • Leave technology out of the child’s bedroom. You could have a place where the child/young person leaves their technology and then can retrieve them the next day.
  • Let the bed only be for sleeping, not for playing, using technology, eating for example. It can also not be the place you do the “brain dump” exercise. The brain makes associations which helps the body get ready for activities.
  • Remember your child’s sensory needs here and create a calming environment for your child. This will be very personal to your child including the type of bedding, smells, teddies etc that may support them to feel relaxed.
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