Behavioral Strategies for Kids with ADD/ADHD

Posted 05-18-2010 at 10:45 AM by MinnieBees
My daughter horseback riding


“Why don’t you just put her on medication?” I hear this from a friend of mine all the time. She has a son who is about the same age as my daughter, and they both have ADD/ADHD. We have chosen to use behavioral strategies for her, and not medication. It works, it just works slow. But, I think that the life long lessons are invaluable. I have seen a huge improvement in her behavior just by doing a few simple things.

One thing that helps her remember to do things is writing everything down. She is a major note writer! Sometimes they are a bit passive aggressive, like the note she wrote in chalk on my patio telling me how much she hates the rule in the house that the water hose can only run on the grass and not the patio. But many of them are useful. Like lists of things she wants for her birthday, lists reminding her of things she needs to bring to school, and so on. The physical act of writing down a note helps cement the task in your mind, so it is easier to remember.

Another strategy we use for my daughter are her to-do list charts. This is similar to a sticker chart or token board. We have 2 white boards, one for tasks in the morning and one for after school. On the left side is a list of items she needs to do, and at the top I have the days of the week. For every task she checks it off herself as she gets it done. Every day I put a check at the bottom – if she completes tasks without me reminding her. At the end of the week, she earns something special, like reading time with mom, a craft project with mom, or a movie night. One thing to remember for kids with attention issues is to break the tasks down to very small tasks. Putting “Get ready for school” is too broad for a child with ADD/ADHD. You need to put, eat breakfast, pack your backpack, brush your teeth, put on your clothes, put your dirty clothes in the laundry room, put your shoes on, etc. Baby Steps. If the tasks are too long or complicated, then they will be unable to complete the task.

Routines are also a great way to keep kids with ADD/ADHD on task because if they are doing the same things, in the same sequence every day, then they can fly through on auto-pilot. It becomes second nature to take off her clothes and put them in the dirty clothes if she does it in the same order, at the same time, everyday. Also, allowing a child with ADD/ADHD an appropriate way to fidget can be helpful at times, such as small toys with pieces that are easily manipulated, so the child can channel fidgety energy in an appropriate way, instead of bad habits like biting nails.

Filed Under: Family Health, General


5 Responses to “Behavioral Strategies for Kids with ADD/ADHD”

  1. zachabbycole on May 18th, 2010 6:18 pm

    Awesome Article. All of these things also help me as an adult with ADD. My 9 year old son has ADD and kept getting punished for forgetting to bring home his homework. I suggested he have a sticky note on his desk where he can write things down during the day that he needs to do or bring home. According to his teacher it has worked well and she is now doing this with some of her other students.

  2. momtoesther on May 18th, 2010 9:44 pm

    Thanks for posting this. All these strategies would benefit any child, not just those with ADD/ADHD.

  3. love3 on May 19th, 2010 4:11 am

    Love this! Thank you for the ideas.

  4. Willow on May 21st, 2010 6:01 pm

    Very helpful, I have a child with Autism- Aspergers and I really think he also has some ADHD and we are working on getting that diagnosed as well.
    He can’t read yet, but I can see these suggestions being very helpful for him later, and maybe I can even modify them for now.
    Congrats on being able to go without meds! Thats awesome

  5. mavsgrl04 on June 1st, 2010 4:27 am

    Love it! Going to tr with my adhd son! Who I am doing everything in my power to keep him off the meds!!!!!

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