Making resolutions is a fun way for kids and adults alike to welcome a new year while also working on self-improvement. While ADHD is not caused by bad habits, practicing habit awareness for ADHD is one possible resolution for the new year. In order to support your child in becoming more aware of their ADHD habits, you need to plan carefully to limit frustration and make the process for you and your child as effective and successful as possible.
Common ADHD Habits
Check out the list of typical habits of ADHD below to identify potential areas of need.
- Interrupting too much
- Being distracted easily
- Lack of focus
- Lack of organization
Tips for Practicing ADHD Habit Awareness
When helping a student with ADHD become more aware of his or her habits, it's important to focus on only one area at a time. For example, to help with interrupting too much or impatience, set small goals, and don’t expect your child to hold a thought in for more than a couple of minutes. When he does interrupt, practice consistency, and use lots of reminders. Send your child a signal such as your hand on his shoulder to signify that you understand he has something to say but needs to let you finish. Gradually lengthen the period of time you require your child to stay quiet, and after lots of repetition and reminding, that bad habit should be on its way out. Be sure to praise your child when he remembers not to interrupt; positive reinforcements are more effective than negative ones.
Another way to practice habit awareness for the new year is to use money or an incentive that works for your child. Suppose your child has the habit of speaking out of turn at the dinner table. Estimate about how many times this occurs weekly (or daily), and fill a jar with that amount of quarters minus five. Explain to your child that he gets to keep these quarters at the end of each week (or day), but you must remove a quarter every time he speaks out of turn. As this habit becomes less of an issue, put in fewer quarters.
If frequent distraction is common for your child, work on activities that build concentration and listening skills. Understood.org offers the game "Freeze! Focus!" as a way to help build concentration. When he’s least expecting it, say, “Freeze! Focus!” and have him freeze in place (start with 10 seconds and build your way up). When time is up, ask him to describe three things he saw while he was frozen. Distraction blockers like ear phones or quiet, private rooms will also help your child to focus on the task at hand. Clutter free environments are also key to reducing possible sources of distraction.
If better organization is one of the resolutions, set your child up for success. For instance, give him a daily planner to track homework, appointments and more. Remind him to use it, and as he starts remembering to do so on his own, decrease how often you remind him. Work with your child to make a checklist so that he properly packs his book bag every evening for school the next day. You will definitely need lots of patience and consistency, since success here is a team effort. But success is indeed possible.
If you suspect your child has ADHD or has already been diagnosed with ADHD, contact us online or find a center near you to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help.