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Need help with my son who has ADD, please!

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Hi My name is Jessica. I have an 8yr old son that has Add for a couple years now. What are some ways i can help him when his medicine is wearing off and he still has homework to get done? Also he craves the routine I try to keep and if something happens that doesn't usually happen it throws him off and I have a hard time getting him to talk about it and realize that things don't always go the way you want them to? Thanks in advance for any tips you can offer.

by on Dec. 7, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Replies (11-17):
mmccrea
by on Dec. 8, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Keep a schedule, stick to it.  Make it big enough on the wall or refrigerator so he can see it.  Make his homework exciting.  Use colors and bullet points, and colorful tabs, stickers... Take him to a psychologist.  They can teach him study skills that will help with education.  Since you are already going the medication route, ask the doc to give him a different dose or an XR pill.

Jess0915
by on Dec. 8, 2012 at 6:58 PM

Is it bad that I usually didn't even look over their homework, other than to make sure it was finished? Lol. I told my kids from preschool age on, I only help if they ask me to, and I was not there to do their homework. If they didn't know how to work the problem, they needed to try to figure it out for themselves. I helped very little all through school. Not that I couldn't help, but because they learned how to be very self sufficient at an early age. They knew I wasn't going to help with someone I knew they already knew. The result? Honor roll students and advanced classes in HS. They are both on track for a good college and I know for a fact they have the drive to do well.

Quoting CoeyG:


Quoting Jess0915:

Hi Jessica, I'm Jessica too! My DD is ADHD and was diagnosed at 3, she was really bad. The meds never really worked very well for her, so I took a med free route. It wasn't easy, but I can tell you some things that helped us.

1. No sugar. Sugar was a very rare treat, like birthdays and holidays. Fruit was okay, but no candy, sweet cereals, soda, etc.

2. Very strict schedule, where she got to put stickers when she completed daily tasks (when she was 4 we started this).

3. No food with red dye in it, sounds funny, but her doctor told me they have found links to red food coloring and triggers in ADD/ADHD.

4. Physical activity. Playing outside every day that weather permitted. We even kept our living room free of furniture so she could play and run in the room with nothing in the way. All our furniture was moved to the den. She also participated in any sport she was interested in, Cheer, tumbling, dance, soccer. She was so busy, but it helped SO MUCH!

5. Consistency. Much harder than it sounds with an ADHD kid, but she craved consistency and behaved much better when I was consistent.

6. When she misbehaved I would put her in her room without her favorite toys, no tv, no fun activities. Just time to think and told her when she was ready to behave, she could call for me and I'd come in and talk with her. We had many many talks.

7. Whenever she had to do busy work, or boring stuff (aka homework), I'd set a timer and she'd have to sit and do work until the timer went off. Usually around 5-10 minutes (it got longer as she got older). When the timer went off, she was free to get up and do something else for a few minutes, I set a timer for that too. Usually I'd send her outside to burn off some energy on the trampoline, or practice her tumbling. Then she'd come back and work. If she had work in more than one subject I would switch back and forth between subjects to keep her busy without letting her get bored.

She's 14 now and she is able to set her own schedule now (excluding school of course), and she has much more control over her emotions and impulses. In the end I'm glad we took the route we did because I see her now and I'm happy that she's not dependant on meds to get things done. Not the right choice for everyone, but it definitely was for us.

I will also add that I have ADD as well, and many of these things work wonders for me too. :)

I applaud your methods, especially taking breaks while doing homework.  That would not only work for ADHD children but "normal" as well.  When my daughter got home from school I gave her a few minutes to "unwind" then she would begin on homework.  After about 15 minutes I'd give her a break.  Here is a trick.  Don't make your kids correct their mistakes in homework.  That is the teacher's job and when they make mistakes they are showing the teacher what part of her lessons the child is retaining.  Better teachers figure that if the child shows a consistant error pattern in a subject that mybe it can be taught a little differntly. 


CoeyG
by on Dec. 8, 2012 at 8:33 PM


Quoting Jess0915:

Is it bad that I usually didn't even look over their homework, other than to make sure it was finished? Lol. I told my kids from preschool age on, I only help if they ask me to, and I was not there to do their homework. If they didn't know how to work the problem, they needed to try to figure it out for themselves. I helped very little all through school. Not that I couldn't help, but because they learned how to be very self sufficient at an early age. They knew I wasn't going to help with someone I knew they already knew. The result? Honor roll students and advanced classes in HS. They are both on track for a good college and I know for a fact they have the drive to do well.

Quoting CoeyG:


Quoting Jess0915:

Hi Jessica, I'm Jessica too! My DD is ADHD and was diagnosed at 3, she was really bad. The meds never really worked very well for her, so I took a med free route. It wasn't easy, but I can tell you some things that helped us.

1. No sugar. Sugar was a very rare treat, like birthdays and holidays. Fruit was okay, but no candy, sweet cereals, soda, etc.

2. Very strict schedule, where she got to put stickers when she completed daily tasks (when she was 4 we started this).

3. No food with red dye in it, sounds funny, but her doctor told me they have found links to red food coloring and triggers in ADD/ADHD.

4. Physical activity. Playing outside every day that weather permitted. We even kept our living room free of furniture so she could play and run in the room with nothing in the way. All our furniture was moved to the den. She also participated in any sport she was interested in, Cheer, tumbling, dance, soccer. She was so busy, but it helped SO MUCH!

5. Consistency. Much harder than it sounds with an ADHD kid, but she craved consistency and behaved much better when I was consistent.

6. When she misbehaved I would put her in her room without her favorite toys, no tv, no fun activities. Just time to think and told her when she was ready to behave, she could call for me and I'd come in and talk with her. We had many many talks.

7. Whenever she had to do busy work, or boring stuff (aka homework), I'd set a timer and she'd have to sit and do work until the timer went off. Usually around 5-10 minutes (it got longer as she got older). When the timer went off, she was free to get up and do something else for a few minutes, I set a timer for that too. Usually I'd send her outside to burn off some energy on the trampoline, or practice her tumbling. Then she'd come back and work. If she had work in more than one subject I would switch back and forth between subjects to keep her busy without letting her get bored.

She's 14 now and she is able to set her own schedule now (excluding school of course), and she has much more control over her emotions and impulses. In the end I'm glad we took the route we did because I see her now and I'm happy that she's not dependant on meds to get things done. Not the right choice for everyone, but it definitely was for us.

I will also add that I have ADD as well, and many of these things work wonders for me too. :)

I applaud your methods, especially taking breaks while doing homework.  That would not only work for ADHD children but "normal" as well.  When my daughter got home from school I gave her a few minutes to "unwind" then she would begin on homework.  After about 15 minutes I'd give her a break.  Here is a trick.  Don't make your kids correct their mistakes in homework.  That is the teacher's job and when they make mistakes they are showing the teacher what part of her lessons the child is retaining.  Better teachers figure that if the child shows a consistant error pattern in a subject that mybe it can be taught a little differntly. 


I never checked my daughter's homework, just made sure it was done and in the folder of completed work ready to be turned in.  If she didn't understand somethng and I couldn't help we would "flag" that portion and make a post it telling the teacher that we did not understand and she would get the help she needed.

DarlaHood
by on Dec. 10, 2012 at 2:48 AM

All good advice so far. 

There are things that you can do to help him transition when there is a change in schedule or something that he doesn't expect.  You can teach him some self-calming methods, and when he finds himself in an unexpected situation, you can ask him - Are you able to switch gears, or do you need a moment?  If he says he needs a moment, teach him to stop and take 3 deep breaths.  Tell him to breathe in through his nose and with his hand on his tummy make his hand go out as far as he can.  Then hold for 1 second, and breathe out through his mouth imagining his anxiety, worry, stress, tightness (whatever words he understands and identifies with) going out of his body.  He can close his eyes or not.  Sit or stand.  Doesn't matter.  You can also teach him to do a body scan, just stopping to notice from his head to his toes if anything feels tight or bad.  Then focusing on squeezing those muscles and releasing the tightness, or shaking the tightness out.  He can also use self-talk to tell himself that now he is ready to switch gears.  He is calm, he can do it.  He is ready.

These are very simple things to do, but are amazingly effective for children or adults if they take the 2 minutes to do them.  He can do all 3 things, or just 1 or 2.   

Also it is sometimes helpful for kids who have situations they can't control well to use a 5 point scale.  The adults can help him learn to rate himself with 1 being feeling good, to 5 being the worst he can feel (angry, tense, anxious, whatever).  He can tell you what each number feels like with words or a simple picture, and you can help him think of a strategy to help bring himself back down.  You can help him to learn to manage his emotions and impulses by first having adults say, take a moment, what number is this situation for you?  If he says a 4, then you do what you've agreed will bring him down from there.  If it is a relaxation technique, taking his own time out, running a lap around the field, using an art journal, etc...  Once he brings himself down, he can go back to what he needs to be doing.  If you have a school Psychologist, child therapist, counselor, or autism specialist at his school, they will have scales and tools he can use to redirect himself under different circumstances. 

With ADHD, it is imperative that he does have choices as much as possible.  If he gets to the end of his homework capacity. Do you need to take 10 minutes, or can you take a second to calm yourself and get through it?  He makes the choice.  It gives him a greater sense of control when he has tools and he can make decisions to manage his own behavior. 

It is also really important to catch him doing things right and praise him as much as possible, and try to ignore negative behaviors when possible.  Avoid power struggles.  And try using positive reinforcement rather than punitive consequences.  So, Not - if you don't finish your homework, no tv for you tonight.  Instead, For every day that you finish your homework, you earn the privilege of playing a game with mom/dad (watching tv, using the computer, playing a video game, etc...),  always is more motivating and affirming that way.  Often kids with ADHD get a lot of negative feedback, and it can make them feel like they don't want to even try.  Very important to avoid that.  The more empowered he feels and the more he likes himself and is proud of himself, the better he will do.

caro100
by on Dec. 10, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Good luck with the homework wars..  Lots and lots of physical activity.  Not so much computer and gaming consoles, unless it is wii and its a physical game.  My son was a nonresponder to medicine.  Basically you have to be very hands on.  My son still finds it hard to focus on not fun things, but amazingly can focus for hours on video games, hmmmm!!!

nikkita311
by on Dec. 11, 2012 at 1:11 PM
My sons medicine wears off at three so if he needs back up Med we have one but he usually stays calm if he is watching TV and playing the wii or PSP handheld game system,he doesn't have much of a structured routine due to certain family members but I try.my son adhd.white noise helps too,static on TV or radio.
jstone76
by on Dec. 14, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Thanks so much for all of the advice. I'm starting to use some of the tips already. I realized that I mainly need to change myself to be more laid back and try to look at each situation differently.

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