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Advice for Parents of a Child with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) During a Pandemic

Intervening with a child with ADHD in the context of a pandemic is certainly not an easy situation for many parents. The children no longer go to school, they are confined to the house and their routine is upset. The main treatments for ADHD therapist near me are behavioral strategies and medication. In the current context, these strategies could be neglected, and some parents could wonder whether they should continue their child's medication. Here are some useful suggestions to help children with ADHD structure their school learning and better cope with their difficulties:

Sleep, diet, and exercise: key elements!

· Sleep, diet, and exercise are especially important for children with ADHD. When they don't get enough sleep, they may be more irritable and impulsive the next day.

· It is important to maintain the same routine as usual for sleeping and eating times, as well as for all other activities.

· Maintaining a balanced diet is also essential.

· Periods of physical activity can help with attention and reduce anxiety and hyperactivity. Ideally, they should take place several times a day.

· In times of confinement, finding physical activities can be a challenge: we can encourage the child to jump rope on the balcony, to dribble a ball, to dance to the sound of fast-paced music, to do jumping -jack, boxing in a cushion, playing Wii Sports, etc.

Manage environment

In the same way, as in the school environment, it is important to avoid, as much as possible, concomitant stimulation (auditory, visual, olfactory, etc.), to avoid exacerbating the symptoms of ADHD.

Establish a routine without being too rigid

Many children with ADHD have difficulty coping with uncertainty or have difficulty tolerating a delay before getting a reward. While all children benefit from a structure during this pandemic, those with ADHD need it even more. Here are some key things to keep in mind when establishing a routine:

· Maintaining a good balance between structure and flexibility.

· The creation of a visual schedule to determine the different activities planned during the day (especially for young children). This schedule can be placed in a visible place, for example, on the fridge.

· A schedule that is too unstructured can increase certain unwanted behaviors, such as spending endless hours playing video games.

· Too rigid a schedule, however, can generate conflicts and cause the child who has broken the rules impulsively to have a negative view of himself.

· Constancy and repetition are your allies.

· Trust yourself, you are the best person to find the right balance for your child.

Plan fun learning times and activities

· Research shows that children can concentrate more effectively for 45 minutes.

· According to clinicians, it is helpful to break down a task into small, realistic steps and plan a break afterward.

· Simplifying tasks and repeating instructions are effective strategies.

· It is important to clarify your expectations with your child by telling him what subject should be worked on during a learning block, as well as the time allocated to do so.

· When the task is completed, immediate feedback should be given, to ensure that the work has been done as planned.

· Promptly rewarding your child when he succeeds in the required task is very useful.

· Using reward systems (eg, sticker board for younger children, token saving for older children) is an effective technique.

· The goal is to use a few behavioral strategies appropriate for your child, and to use them regularly.

· The ideal is to start with simple and realistic goals, and then assess whether your child can meet them.

· It is possible to reframe your goals the next day as needed for it to be successful.

· By thinking about what motivates your child the most, you can fit fewer appealing activities, such as schoolwork, into the activities they enjoy the most.

· When your child completes a 45-minute activity block, for example, it's a good idea to add a fun activity to their schedule, like playing a video game for a few minutes or calling their friends, depending on which activities they prefer.

Positive attention: a winning strategy

When all family members are confined to the house, children demand even more attention from their parents, which is a challenge, especially for those who must work remotely. Positive attention is the most powerful motivator we must change their behaviors. It is therefore possible to use this attention to motivate them to concentrate on their schoolwork and to reward them when they carry out activities independently.

· Children with ADHD appreciate intense and immediate feedback.

· Congratulations should be specific. For example, say "Bravo for starting your homework so quickly" rather than just "Bravo".

· It is essential to show your child that you are proud of him. Pride in having accomplished a task or project is a very powerful motivator.

· How you give that attention should be something to think about. For example, the tone of voice adopted can make all the difference.

· Accuracy of verbal instructions is also required. For example: “I' will work on the computer while you go to play with your building blocks. If you let me work while you play with your blocks, we can play together afterward”.

· Visual cues can be added to your child's schedule so he knows when you will be available for him. You could draw traffic lights and say, "When mom is red, that means I'm working and not available." When mum is green, it means I can play with you”.

· Each parent who interacts with your child can be identified with a different color tag (for example, mum is yellow, and dad is blue). He can thus easily know when his parent will be able to give him positive attention during the day.

· It is important to be “present” with your child when you spend time with him; give it your full attention. You should avoid checking your emails during times when you have pledged your full attention.

Stay in contact with the school and other professionals involved with your child

Frequent communication with school staff will help ease the transition process. It is important to have information on the type of support received in class to ensure good continuity at home. Here are some guidelines to follow in this regard:

*Ask the teachers and other professionals involved with your child to find out how you can help him or her organize well and stay focused on the task. Ask questions such as:

· What has worked in the past for my child when he needed to focus?

· How can I help him with his homework?

· Who is responsible for verifying that their homework is completed?

*Ask the school about the distance learning modalities offered to children with ADHD.

*Don't feel obligated to replicate the same educational model used in school. Stay flexible; you will identify new ways to learn with your child.

*Contact your doctor if you have any questions about your child's medication by a family therapy near me. In times of stress, such as during a pandemic, he might feel a weak sense of control over the situation. It's a good idea for your child to continue taking their medications to help them feel in control of their emotions and behaviors. Do not change your child's medication until you have discussed it with your doctor.

Time spent on screens

· Children with ADHD tend to spend a lot of time in front of their screens, which can sometimes be problematic.

· Due to the pandemic and the social distancing measures put in place, however, social networks allow you to stay socially connected.

· The time spent in front of the screens can also be a source of enhancement and contribute to self-esteem: it is a question here of not exaggerating and of choosing the content well.

· School-aged children and teens may need to be online with their friends for a few hours a day to do schoolwork and other related activities.

· During this exceptional period, it is more important to focus on what children are doing online rather than focusing on the time spent in front of their screen.

· Most of the time spent in front of screens must be related to school learning and the maintenance of social and family relationships.

· Maintaining a balance between screen time and other types of activity is necessary.

Have realistic expectations

· Supervise your child directly for their online school learning before granting them greater autonomy.

· Remember that many children become easily distracted or make mistakes without teacher or adult support.

· Give yourself time to find the best way to work with your child. Remember that he too is adapting to this new way of learning.

· Have realistic expectations; it's best to set few goals at first, then find a pace that you all feel comfortable with.

· Also expect that your child will not progress as quickly at home as at school; such expectations are likely to cause frustration on both sides.

· Schoolwork should not be a source of conflict and failure: set realistic goals with your child for success.

· If you're unable to supervise her work because you have other children to care for or because you also must work, just do your best!

Putting things into perspective

· It is normal for you to feel irritated or angry if your child takes an hour to get dressed or if he impulsively hits his sibling.

· Try to put things into perspective right now: remember what you love about your child like their personality, generosity, or sense of humor.

· Be empathetic, because your child may no longer have access to the same type of support that he had access to before to help him with his academic learning, which may cause additional difficulties.

· Remember that all the strategies put in place to help your child must be adapted to each stage of their development, depending on their situation.

· The pandemic is causing significant changes in your child's routine and may require more significant adjustments.

· Remember to apply the same intervention strategies as usual; your children will adapt, just like you; do your best: that's all we can expect of ourselves.

Like most other parents of children with ADHD, you may sometimes be very concerned about academic success and the progress of your child's learning and development. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that, at the end of this crisis, the most important learning will have been to teach our children how to take care of their mental transformation health.

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