Practical top tips for supporting children with ADHD

Last Updated on : 6th December 2022

Kate King, Head of Learning Development at Enjoy Education

So my child has received an ADHD diagnosis – what now?

Many families find, at this important stage in their journey, that the advice they are given is often generic or non-existent. We know that every child experiences and presents ADHD in a unique way. Whether or not you have a diagnosis, the hyperactive student struggling to keep quiet in class looks very different to the inattentive one quietly staring out the window.

The best way to support young people with ADHD is to recognise this uniqueness, to be supportive and patient, and to identify the strategies that work specifically for them. As the recent ADHD Awareness Month highlighted, it’s more important than ever that parents, teachers and everyone in a child’s life feel empowered to do this.

Here are my top tips for supporting children with ADHD:

1 – Break down information and focus on positive feedback

We all know expecting children with ADHD to just ‘try harder’ doesn’t work. They need specific help, just like a child with poor eyesight might need glasses to see the board.

Work closely with them to break down information and schoolwork and build it up in steps with clear, achievable goals. Give immediate positive feedback and rewards to boost self-esteem and help them feel positive about their work.

2 – Celebrate their strengths 

ADHD brings with it amazing strengths, from the ability to hyper-focus to intense creativity. It’s no wonder that so many famous actors, entrepreneurs and sportspeople, from Emma Watson to Michael Phelps and Simone Biles, have used their ADHD to become enormously successful.

Unfortunately, many children with ADHD struggle with self-esteem, especially if they’re struggling with tasks their peers find ‘easy’. Help your child feel confident in their ADHD superpowers, and to recognise the skills and traits that make them special!

3 – Consider their environment

We all struggle to focus on our work when we’re distracted, and it’s no different for children with ADHD. For students with inattentive difficulties, a visually busy and noisy classroom can be a difficult environment and won’t allow them to perform at their best.

We can tackle this by making the physical environment better for the individual: for example, allowing standing, movement breaks or giving prompts when attention wanders. At home, we might address this by creating a defined ‘work’ space in a quiet area with few visual distractions.

4 – Build your team and collaborate 

No-one can go on this journey alone. Parents, teachers, tutors, mental health professionals and anyone else in a child’s life can work together to support their development.

If your child has just been diagnosed, you may find it useful to think about who your ‘team’ will be – is there any need that’s not being met, and who can you reach out to support here?

I can’t stress enough the importance of collaboration and sharing information; there’s little point in parents being given strategies and not passing them on to teachers, or teachers or tutors finding something that really works in a learning environment and not feeding this back to families.

5 – Focus on the individual 

Above all, don’t forget that every child with ADHD is unique, and will need different strategies to succeed.

It may feel like trial and error, but what matters is to keep trying and keep learning about your child, so you can give them the support they need to thrive.

I work closely with families to break down diagnoses, reports and feedback into practical strategies for success. If this would be a helpful next step, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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