How families can cope with the difficulties of ADHD in children
Children with ADHD often:
- Display defiant or disruptive behavior
- Become hyper-focused on things that excite them
- Lack executive functioning skills
- Have trouble making/maintaining friendships
- Fall behind in school because they have trouble focusing and following directions
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the “estimated number of children ever diagnosed with ADHD, according to a national 2016 parent survey, is 6.1 million (9.4%)”. An estimated five in ten children with ADHD had behavior problems, while three in ten experienced anxiety.
If you’re a parent of an ADHD child, you know it can be challenging. If you are just hearing about an ADHD diagnosis, there is a lot to learn. Absorbing the information can be difficult. It might seem overwhelming and make you anxious.
There is help, however. The Learning Lab offers this parent’s guide to ADHD so you can navigate the twists and turns of this journey.
ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) can make it difficult for your child to pay attention and sit still. It also affects how your child follows directions and how he or she controls impulses.
Of course, most young children usually have short attention spans. Children with ADHD, however, show symptoms more frequently, with little change as they get older. This inattention can make it harder to focus and complete tasks, especially in school. It might also create problems at home and make it more difficult to get along with others.
Here are five common issues children with ADHD and their parents experience.
Common Issue 1: Defiant and disruptive behavior
Children with ADHD can have angry or emotional outbursts. When confronted with difficult, complex, or boring tasks, they can become overwhelmed, angry, and defiant. The defiance often appears when your child has to stop doing an activity he or she loves. Things like homework, getting dressed, getting ready for bed, and doing chores are not typically “fun” or necessarily easy so these tasks can become a minefield.
To get out of difficult or boring tasks, your child might exhibit disruptive behaviors, such as tantrums, crying, yelling, or aggression.
Common Issue 2: Hyper-focus
You may have noticed that your child is very capable of concentrating on certain things. Many kids with ADHD will become hyper-focused on something exciting (to them). Unfortunately, they often have trouble controlling and directing attention when it’s needed. Your child might be able to focus on a video game for hours but getting dressed becomes a task that leads to frustration and tears.
If your child gets into a state of hyper-focus, getting him or her to stop that activity and do something else can be a huge challenge. Many experts call this an inability to “attention switch” and it can be a common cause of conflict at school and home.
Common Issue 3: Lack of executive function skills
Executive functioning skills are essential life skills we all must develop if we are to become functioning adults. These skills are what allow us to complete tasks, make decisions, and control our emotions.
Executive function skills include:
- Paying attention
- Staying focused on tasks to completion
- Planning, organizing, prioritizing, and time management
- Decision making
- Shifting focus from one task to another
- Controlling emotions
- Learning from past mistakes
- Understanding different points of view
Common Issue 4: Relationships
Children that have concentration issues and who may be driven to impulsive and challenging behaviors often have trouble making or keeping friends. Other parents may object to the behavior problems that are exhibited, especially if the problems include aggression and anger. Extracurricular activities like team sports or clubs may be challenging since children with ADHD have trouble following the rules and often lose focus during games or activities.
ADHD can also affect life at home. You might have frequent clashes with your child over homework or chores. He or she can’t (or won’t) follow instructions or complete tasks. Asking him or her to comply or switch focus can lead to a meltdown.
ADHD can ultimately put a strain on the relationship between parents. Other siblings may become angry or resentful of the attention given to that brother or sister.
Common Issue 5: Falling behind in school
Because children with ADHD have trouble focusing and following directions, it can lead to trouble in school. Your child might not understand a lesson. He or she might also get bored and simply tune out in class. A lack of executive functioning skills can make it difficult to complete assignments. Your child might lose things or forget to turn in assignments.
The remote learning experience that many students have been dealing with during COVID-19 can also be a challenge for children with ADHD. Attempting to listen and absorb lessons online by watching a computer screen may be difficult for a child who already has trouble focusing.
Helping your child with ADHD
Therapy, coaching and in extreme cases, medication can help your child with focus and behavior issues. If your child has fallen behind in school, a different type of help may be in order. The Learning Lab offers comprehensive resources for families throughout Broward County. Here are just a few of our programs, which you can incorporate now.
A specialized program for children with dyslexia and other learning differences. It’s designed for students who are one+ years behind in reading and/or writing. The program uses S.M.A.R.T Goals and the F.I.T.T Principle.
The FLEX Summer Program offers support for students who need to catch up or prevent learning losses over the summer. Core subjects include math, writing, and reading.
The Learning Lab was created to help children with learning differences, such as dyslexia and ADHD gain confidence and skills. We use an out-of-the-box approach to learning so that children with learning differences can excel.
We collaborate with your child’s school and teachers, reteach concepts/lessons, and review school work. We’ll also help your child work on executive function skills. Plus, we can work with your child’s school to maintain IEP programs and/or 504 plans.
Take our free online analysis to determine if your child could use our services. You’ll be contacted to begin our placement procedure and discuss your child’s education needs and goals.
The Learning Lab is excited to announce that we recently expanded with a Davie location to better serve the Broward community. We offer summer learning support to children throughout Davie, Cooper City, Plantation, and Fort Lauderdale. Contact us today for more information.