Folks at KidCompanions Chewelry Special Needs Blog are pleased that Patrick Del Rosario offered to write the following guest post, Helping Kids with ADHD: Top Ten Ways on How to Increase Concentration Skills. Patrick Del Rosario is part of the team behind Open Colleges. We know that parents of children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will find his ten tips to help their kids concentrate very helpful.
Guest Post: Helping Kids with ADHD: Top Ten Ways on How to Increase Concentration Skills by Patrick Del Rosario
Try to imagine that you live in a constant carnival, with loud noise and bright colors surrounding you. Your first thought might be, “Carnival? That sounds fun!” But now picture trying to live through this kaleidoscope of sights and sounds every second of your day, with dozens of things constantly vying for your attention. Not pleasant, is it? Well, that’s essentially what a normal day is like for a kid growing up with ADHD – with the world bombarding their senses with new stimuli all the time. Knowing this, is it any wonder that concentration can be difficult for them?
If you are the parent of a child with ADHD, or if you work with them, it’s important to remember this when dealing with them. Most of the time, it’s not that they are willfully disobeying you or ignoring you – it’s that they perceive so much more going on around them that it’s incredibly easy for your voice to get pushed into the background and for them to become distracted.
Luckily, there are a number of techniques that experts say have shown to help ADHD children improve their concentration skills. Make working on these methods part of your learning routine, and soon they’ll be interacting much better with the world around them.
Reward – don’t punish.
ADHD kids can often be incredibly frustrating to deal with, and our natural inclination when they disobey us is to punish them for bad behavior. Sometimes this is necessary, but studies have shown that children with ADHD crave positive attention, and respond far better to praise and rewards than the fear of getting punished. If they know that sitting still through a meal is going to get them a hug or that dessert they really want, they will try extra hard to focus so that they “win the prize.”
Often kids with ADHD need to be constantly in motion because they have so much excess energy. One great way to channel that energy and improve their concentration is to involve them in a sport with lots of activity and motion. Basketball, hockey, and soccer can be great because there’s lots of running around, but the roles are also very defined, which speaks to their need for order and control.
Schedule and organize everything.
Most ADHD children zip from one thing to the next because they don’t have a set structure, but if you work out a schedule with them that clearly defines what they should be doing, it really helps them to focus on the task at hand. Especially if you show them that they will get rewarded for successfully keeping to the schedule.
It’s far easier for those with ADHD to succeed in normal, everyday tasks without getting distracted if they have a specific method and pattern to how they do things. For example, to help them get up and remember to get dressed, they should pick their clothes the night before and lay them out. When they see them the next morning, it will act as a trigger and they are less likely to forget.
Use timers and stopwatches.
These are great for a couple of reasons. First, they help to keep both you and the child on schedule and in a routine. Second, they can – and should – be used in “games” to increase concentration, such as sitting still in a chair for 60 seconds, or working on homework for a half hour.
Give them fish oil supplements.
Studies in the UK have shown that when schoolchildren with ADHD are given fish oil supplements with Omega 3 fatty acids, their ability to concentrate and focus increases, they become calmer, and their grades improve.
Yoga and martial arts.
Yoga may seem like an odd choice for a child with ADHD – especially when paired with martial arts – but what both of these have in common is that they involve strenuous physical activity as well as lots of quiet, focus, and concentration. By combining these things together, people with ADHD are better able to “turn down the volume” of the world around them.
Yes, that Simon – the electronic game where you repeat patterns. Games are great ways to get ADHD kids to focus in general, and Simon helps to teach colors, patterns, and focus because if they aren’t paying attention, they won’t be able to win. Memory and Concentration are two more great games in this vein.
Make a distraction-free zone.
Even the best of us can have our productivity negatively affected by distractions in our environment, so imagine what it must be like for a child with ADHD if they are trying to work with the TV or radio on. Once they are able to focus on things like homework without being distracted by their own mind, help them by creating a space that’s just for them where they can have the quiet and solitude they need to focus.
Unlike science and math, where problems can easily be made to feel like games, reading and learning words might be a bit of a bore for kids with ADHD. That’s where word searches and crosswords come into play. When playing these, ADHD kids will focus on winning, and as a side effect, they’ll improve their ability to sequence and pay more attention to words.
Patrick Del Rosario is part of the team behind Open Colleges. It is one of Australia’s pioneer and leading providers of TAFE courses and language courses. When not working, Patrick enjoys blogging about career, business, and culture. Patrick is also a photography enthusiast and is currently running a photography studio in the Philippines.