Helping Parents Help Their Children
By Wes Beach
It’s hard to be a little boy. All you want to do is run and play and explore and get dirty and have fun. Your teachers may think your son (or daughter) has a lot of extra energy. They may think he has a short attention span. They see he’s fidgety and/or on the wild side. Is he just being a boy or does he, in fact, have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD)?
Sam’s parents know this scenario all too well. When Sam was in second grade his teacher reported him as having probable ADD. The teacher told Sam’s mother that she was not a doctor but Sam needed medication. Sam’s mother wanted to try everything possible before putting Sam on drugs. The teacher was not happy with the decision and insisted that Sam see a doctor and start medication. Over the next few months, the teacher was very vocal in sharing her point of view.
I work with adults and children with learning difficulties and ADD. Sam’s story is one that I hear often. While frustrating, there is good news. Here are some things I have learned that a parent can do to help an over-energetic son or daughter, with or without a diagnosis of ADD.
Breathing is one of the easiest and best ways to promote relaxation. The best time to learn to breath is when you’re relaxed. You want to avoid embarrassing situations, so starting this while you’re alone with your child is best. Start with a minute of deep breathing with the intent to relax the mind and body. Practice breathing for several days in a relaxed setting. Soon they will gain confidence. Then, in a situation where they are upset or hyper, you now have the time and past experience to help them without embarrassment. In public, use a word or sign language to remind them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when they start doing this on their own.
Having routines is good for anybody, but especially for children with ADD. For many families, getting out the door on time in the morning is difficult. Most people find spending a little extra time in the evening getting ready is well worth the effort. Have clothes laid out so the child knows what to wear without thinking. Have a book bag or whatever they’re taking to school ready and by the door. Have a written routine of what they need to do to get ready. Initially, it might take more time to teach them to do things on their own but your hard work will pay off. Each task you get them to do on their own will produce more time for you. So enjoy your extra few minutes!
Getting their attention
Rather than repeating yourself 10 times to a child who’s not listening, get their attention first. When I was little, I could listen to my mother better while I was doing something else. If she made me look at her, I spent most of my brain function trying to look like I was listening and paying attention; therefore I didn’t really hear what she said. Get to know the signs from your child when they’re truly listening, and when they listen best.
Remember the Charley Brown cartoons when the teacher talked? What we heard was the trombone sound ‘Wah Wah Wah.’ That’s the way many kids hear their parents. How can you talk so your child will hear and the information will be received? Talk to children when they are ready. This may not be convenient with your schedule but it’s worth it. My best advice is to eat meals together. It’s a great opportunity to listen to your child and talk about things that they are interested in.
A timer is our friend because children can’t argue with a timer. You, the parent, don’t have to keep track of the time either. Try this when doing homework. Teach your child to set the timer and work for 15 minutes and then set the timer for a 5 minute break.
As parents, we are all frustrated by our children’s failure to pick up after themselves. One of my favorite parenting books is Parenting with Love and Logic (by Cline and Fay) that encourages parents to say “pick up only the toys you want to keep.” It’s a simple rule and very motivating.
These tips work
These tips work but only if you are committed to using them and not falling back into old habits. Make these your new habits.
Sam’s parents did. I am happy to report that Sam and I worked together and he is now in the third grade, free from the usual ADD and ADHD drugs. His teacher is happy with his behavior and participation in class. And Sam is happier with his newfound confidence.
Please contact me at 828-216-4444 if you’d like to learn more or to attend one of my free lectures. My website is www.learningimprovementcenter.com.
Wes Beach is the founder and president of the Learning Enhancement Center, LLC. He is trained in Crossinology® Brain Integration Technique, Brain Physiology, Inception Point Therapy®, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He especially enjoys helping children and adults with learning and comprehension issues.