In the classroom, there are two levels of behavior management. First, there is overall classroom management, i.e., “How structured is the classroom?” For ADHD children (and most 5-year-olds in kindergarten today who are asked to sit and listen for long periods and learn reading and writing), highly structured classrooms are the most successful for academics. Examples of highly structured classrooms include a strict daily routine that can be internalized by students, allowing them to have a sense of control over their world. In addition to the overall classroom management, children with ADHD-like behaviors benefit from a positive behavior plan. Examples include ignoring negative behaviors, and addressing one problematic behavior at a time through positive rewards (a sticker for every time he raises his hand instead of blurting out). At home, you can implement similar programs.
Plan a conference at the school in four to six weeks to follow up on what is working and what is not. You can always make an appointment with the pediatrician to discuss the behaviors that are interfering with your child’s success at school.
Parenting tip: A strong adult-child rapport is essential when motivating children with ADHD or ADHD-like behavior to learn to control their behavior. The most important thing for children who struggle with ADHD is how it impacts the development of their self-esteem, not their performance. If your child feels capable, that will reflect in their performance over time.
Dr. Kate Roberts is a psychologist and parenting strategist with offices on the North Shore. Stay tuned for future columns that will address overnight camp and MCAS stress. Your questions can be answered at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit drkateroberts.com to learn about New Reality Parenting.