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How to help your child handle ADHD

Some children have trouble concentrating at school or home. They might find it hard to focus on tasks, sit still or they may act out in impulsive or aggressive ways. Children with these symptoms may be suffering from a condition known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

ADHD is a mental health disorder. It most often affects children, though some adults also suffer from it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that as of 2016, 9.4 percent of U.S. children aged 2-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. If you think your child may have ADHD, you should take him or her to your primary care physician. Only a medical professional can diagnose ADHD.

For parents with children diagnosed with ADHD, you know how difficult it can be dealing with their condition. Both you and your child may feel frustrated. To help your child cope, you will need to employ different techniques geared toward his of her challenges. You may also need to enlist the help of teachers or other school officials.

Discourage aggressive behavior

For children with ADHD, aggressive outbursts are common. That does not mean this behavior should be tolerated though. When your child acts out, you should put him or her in time-out or remove him or her from the situation. Explain that during time-out the child should cool down and think about the bad behavior.

Encourage physical activity and limit screen time

Kids with an abundance of energy need a good way to burn off that energy. By encouraging them to play outside or join sports, this allows your child a healthy outlet to expend energy. Exercising also forces a child to focus on specific ways of moving his or her body, so that may improve concentration.

Spending a lot of time watching TV or playing video games prevents a child from being physically active. It also allows children with ADHD an easy distraction. Limit the time your child spends with screens.

Create structure and organization

Since your child is prone to distraction, creating routines and organization will help him or her cope better. Set a specific time for bed, meals and play. Create easy-to-follow routines around these activities. For a bedtime routine, maybe have your child brush his or her teeth, pick out an outfit for the next day and then read to your child for 30 minutes.

You may also consider creating a task chart to help break tasks like chores or homework into manageable pieces. This can help prevent a child with ADHD from feeling overwhelmed.

Keeping your home organized and free of clutter will also help prevent distraction. Make sure wherever your child does homework is quiet and distraction-free.

Do not react angrily to impulsive behavior

If you become angry with your child, he or she might react to you in the same way. However, if you remain calm, your child may calm down quicker. Remember, children with ADHD suffer from a disorder that makes them act out. Teach them how to manage anger by setting an example.

Teach your child how to adjust to change

For kids with ADHD, changes in tasks and routine can be difficult. If their brains are focused on one thing, it can be hard for them to switch gears. When you know changes are on the horizon, let your child know ahead of time. This should give him or her time to mentally adjust and may prevent angry outbursts.

Children with ADHD face many challenges. Understanding their condition allows you to better guide them through these difficulties. Your child will likely also have certain strengths that may be associated with his or her condition. You should help your child recognize these strengths and learn how to use these to him or her advantage.

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