October is ADHD Awareness Month, and we would like to zone in on attention. Whether your child has a diagnosis or is just a wiggle worm, we want to share tips for parents to apply in their homes to help their kiddos pay attention. Author and ADHD coach, Roxanne Fouche, shares her recommendations from 25 years of experience working with individuals with attention disorders.
Helping a child pay attention involves finding a somatic outlet for their energy that allows their attention to stay on the task at hand.
The most important accommodation to allow for is movement breaks. These should happen often! Fouche reminds us, “Working in front of a computer all day is not natural for anybody. It’s particularly difficult for wiggly people who need to move in order to think.” She recommends a child get up to get a drink, go up and down stairs if possible, do jumping jacks, or go outside. Movement breaks are essential to anyone’s productivity and well-being, particularly a child’s.
Seating accommodations that provide resistance can help reel the mind in while the body has something to employ itself. Try placing resistance bands over the front legs of a chair, and your child can kick his or her legs between the bands for stimulation. If a standard chair is under-stimulating for your child, other seating arrangements include a wobble chair or a weighted medicine ball that requires using core strength to sit still.
Handheld fidgets (in one hand only) are another accommodation that is highly versatile. Fidgets must be beneficial for the child, but not disruptive to others, so quiet fidgets are best. These can be pens with a rubber bubble at the top, silly putty, or an artist’s eraser. Many gadgets are made specifically for fidgeting–the options are endless. Even chewing gum during a test is an oral fidget that helps with concentration.
If your child needs additional and perhaps more personal support with attention, an attention coach can help him or her manage the expectation of their current environment. “When there is a large enough gap between what a person is capable of and the level of executive functioning that is required of them, a coach can give personalized strategies, tools, and habits to serve them,” Fouche says. Children who struggle with self-efficacy, avoidance, procrastination, and memory, can benefit from coaching.
Fouche reminds us that online schooling is hard for everybody. It requires a tremendous amount of self-regulation and organization that does not come easily. These tips are not only helpful for children diagnosed with ADHD, but can be beneficial for children of any abilities (not to mention parents!). A good technique can benefit everyone.
Watch Roxanne’s full interview here!
To learn more about ADHD and get the find resources, visit Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD).