6 Calming Techniques for Children with ADHD
The challenges attempting to learn that stem from ADHD lies in its very name, hyperactivity, and difficulty focusing attention. But while these issues present a roadblock, they can be overcome, allowing any child to grow and thrive in and out of education environments.
So let us take a look at some calming techniques that can help your child (or students) focus and engage.
1) Let Your Child Fidget
If your child doesn’t need to use their hands to stay engaged in an activity like listening to someone talk or reading with a book laid out in front of them, allow them to fidget in a small way. Fidget toys have become a big thing for a reason. Whether for kids or adults, fidget toys can occupy the part of the mind that needs that stimulation, so that they can focus better on the task at hand.
2) Implement Behavior Shaping
Habits, good or bad, are rarely established in a vacuum. Shaping is a psychological method that is often used to promote changes in behavioral patterns. It is a way to help reinforce desired actions until they become a natural habit. We do it all the time without really thinking about it.
- Praise: Don’t overlook how far a few words of praise can go in helping encourage your child.
- Set Expectations: Layout the ground rules for what behavior you expect and the conditions of success and failure in your eyes. Be upfront but fair, and be sure to give periodic reminders. Focus on phrasing what you want the behavior to be instead of the negative.
- Track Progress: Implement a way to track progress between significant goals. Progress can be a running average of their grade or checklists as they complete study sessions.
- Make it Rewarding: Start by rewarding small advances, then focus more on larger goals.
3) Break Up Required Activities
Sitting still to focus on a task such as homework can be a struggle for everyone. Add in ADHD, and it may feel almost intolerable to a child. But still, the work needs to be done. One way to help them compensate for needing to sit and focus is allowing ample opportunity for them to take a break, get up and move. Letting them get the wiggles out helps the time they are trying to focus.
Lay out the expectations that they need to work and focus for a set amount of time, and then they can get up and do something else before coming back to work some more. You can helpfully set a timer on your phone as an impartial judge of these set increments.
Additionally, if you know they will need to sit and focus for a protracted period of time, let them play and burn off excess energy for a half hour or so beforehand.
4) Practice Active Relaxation
As the brain inevitably becomes overloaded or excess energy begins to bubble over, help calm them with activities that promote relaxation like:
- Help your child develop a habit of deep breathing if they begin to become overwhelmed by energy or emotions. Deep breaths naturally help trigger relaxation responses in the body.
- Coloring books are a calming activity kids of any age can enjoy. With the added bonus of allowing a creative outlet and improving fine motor skills.
- Yoga has been shown to help children with ADHD increase attention and impulse control.
5) Connect with the Natural World
Our final big tip is to get outside and connect with nature. Head to the backyard yard, ball field, or nearby park for some time outside. Even if part of the excursion involves a lot of activity, just being outside with sun and wind on our faces has a naturally calming effect on emotions that helps deal with stressors.
After your child has run around to get energy out, take a few moments to sit down, lay quietly, or walk slowly as you take in the world around you.
Even if you can’t make it outside due to weather or where you live doesn’t have any easily accessible public spaces, you can help your child get in touch with the natural world and its calming effect indoors as well by having them help take care of some indoor plants or taking a calming shower/bath.
6) Additional Tips
These tips didn’t fall nicely into another category, but we feel are still incredibly important to helping children handle ADHD.
First up is to follow instructions, and we aren’t talking to your child, but you as a parent or educator. Make sure to follow through with any steps taken to help manage the ADHD specified by healthcare professionals like doctors and therapists.
Second, make sure you are consistent in your own behavior and management. Provide a sense of structure and routine at home just like your child experiences at school (with some flexibility, of course, for creativity and spontaneity). Keeping a consistent routine throughout all aspects of the child's day can help further solidify good habits and reduce any need to micromanage in the future.
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If you live in the Charlotte area and your child has autism, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder, or another developmental disability and has been having difficulties in traditional classroom settings, contact us to schedule a tour. We would love to meet you and learn more about how we can work together to help your student succeed.
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