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Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder - ADHD (Children)


​We recommend that caregivers do the following to manage a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). These points can be applied across various settings such as the school or at home.

Helping your child with ADHD

We have listed some tips below on how to help your child with ADHD.

  • Have an assigned area to do homework
    Remove clutter from the workspace.
  • Keep outings short
    If you know that certain environments are more than your child can handle, do not expect more than your child can give.
  • Focus on the positive 
    Praise your child often for good behaviours (e.g. "Thank you for keeping your toys"), instead of focusing on negative behaviours.
  • Positive comments should outnumber negative comments by 2:1, ideally 4:1.
  • Try to redirect (not reduce) their behaviours
    To help your child positively use their physical energy, schedule them for sports classes or allow them to fetch things.
  • Have a routine at home and familiarise your child with it.
  • Have a safe place that they can play in.
  • Make your expectations clear and specific
    For instance, say, "walk next to me" rather than "don't run".
  • Behaviour charts
    Come to an agreement with your child about a target behaviour and note how often your child can achieve it (e.g. to complete a homework assignment with only two reminders from his or her mother over the course of a week).
  • Deal with problem behaviours through a range of graded responses
    Response options may include: ignoring, letting consequences take their natural course (e.g. a toy left out in the rain gets spoilt), explaining logical consequences (e.g. response from the teacher for not doing homework) and imposing timeouts.
  • Keep instructions brief and clear
    Make eye contact with your child before giving important information. Repeat your instructions.

We have listed some tips below on how to help a child with ADHD to learn better.

  • Sit the child near the teacher's desk, at the front of the class.
  • Limit copying from the whiteboard.
  • Place the child away from children who will provoke him or her.
  • Allow the child opportunities to move around, e.g. to clean the whiteboard or bring books to the teacher.
  • Maintain eye contact with the child when giving verbal commands.
  • Give instructions slowly and clearly
    Avoid multiple commands. Ask the child to repeat the instruction before attempting the task.
  • Children with attention issues should not be humiliated in front of the class. They should instead be frequently praised for appropriate behaviours.
  • Get the child's attention before giving important instructions.
  • Encourage the child's strengths, e.g. musical ability, athletic abilities.
  • Provide a system of record keeping of appropriate behaviours 
    Younger children may respond to sticker rewards and older children can be rewarded with a token system.
  • Identify criteria for success and increase expectations consistently.
  • Have pre-established consequences for misbehaviour
    Focus on loss of privileges rather than physical punishment.
Teaching Strategies

Here are some strategies that teachers may use in classes to help a child with ADHD.

  • Preview previous lessons before starting a new lesson
    Clearly state the aims of the lesson.
  • Provide advance warning before the lesson ends
    E.g. Give a warning 10 minutes before they are due to hand in their work. Tell the students how much time they have left to complete their work.
  • Tell students how to prepare for the next lesson
    E.g. Ask students to come to the front of the classroom for English instruction.
  • Break tasks down into smaller parts/chunks and give sufficient time for completion of each part/chunk.
Organisational Skills

Children with ADHD can lack the executive functioning skills that would help them organise themselves and multi-task. 60 to 80% of children with ADHD underachieve academically because of problems with work production and consistency.

The tips below may be effective in helping children to stay organised.

  • Have a notebook where the child will note down all the homework he or she has to do.
  • Use colour-coded folders to help the child organise assignments for different subjects (e.g. red for Maths, orange for English etc.)
  • Assign a buddy to help the child organise his or her assignments in the correct folders.
  • Teach the child to read a watch and to use the watch to complete assignments on time.
  • Allow the child to break up long assignments so that there are scheduled breaks for physical activity.
  • Create a timetable and display it where it is easily visible to the child
Behavioural Management

Children with attention difficulties or hyperactivity need frequent reminders to reinforce appropriate behaviour and to stop inappropriate behaviour.

  • Verbal praise
    Praising the child with simple phrases such as "good job" will encourage him or her to persist in the appropriate behaviour. It is also a good practice to praise the child when he or she is doing well to complete an assigned task.
  • Reprimands
    Reprimands are effective so long as they remain brief and directed at the child's behaviour and not the child.
  • Ignoring
    In some instances, it is helpful to ignore the child's behaviour, especially if he or she is misbehaving to get your attention.
  • Establish simple non-verbal cues
    For example, by giving the child a "look" to remind the child to refocus on his or her work.
  • When talking or teaching the child, move closer to him or her so that he or she focuses on you more easily.
Improve Self-Esteem

Children with ADHD may have low self-esteem and self-confidence. They may have experienced stigma as not everyone believes ADHD is a neuro-behavioural problem. Some people believe that it is the fault of the child or due to poor or bad parenting. Children with ADHD may also suffer from anxiety or depression, which may undermine the efforts made to build their confidence.

  • Encourage the child to do things where he or she will experience success
  • Encourage and praise the child often
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