8 October 2020

ADHD and Children with Hard Histories

Are you one of the many parents who has a child with ADHD? Are you feeling overwhelmed with school work? Grab your coffee and join in as Monica shares helpful ways to help our children get through schoolwork.


ADHD and Children with Hard Histories


Hello and welcome to Coffee with Chosen my name is Monica. If you are one of the many parents who have a child with ADHD, you no doubt feel overwhelmed and exhausted by their behavior. When it comes to schoolwork, whether you’re helping them with their homework or homeschooling them, the whole process can feel downright impossible.

Today we’re going to talk about some strategies to use to be able to get through schoolwork, especially if your child has ADHD. One of the Hallmarks in children with ADHD is the lack of ability to handle frustration. I know for me personally, whenever I sit down with my child to do schoolwork and he’s shifting in his seat or dropping his pencil multiple times, can’t find the worksheet he needs, and is groaning every time I ask him to read something it makes my blood pressure shoot up and I think this is hopeless. What an awful way to spend an afternoon together. Will we get through this yes, but in order to be able to successfully get through schoolwork we have to start with some empathy for the struggle even when the behavior makes you feel crazy.

Our pediatrician once explained to me that our child with ADHD had to work five times as hard as his classmates without ADHD just to get through a day of sitting and paying attention following instructions and doing schoolwork. When he gets home, he is truly exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. He needs a break, and he needs to move his body since this exhausting scenario is so often the case for kids with ADHD.

Let’s talk about what we need to do before we sit down to do schoolwork. Has your child had time to run and play immediately after school? If you homeschool one of the beautiful things about it is the fact that it can look differently than a traditional school setting and you can punctuate your school day with lots of movement and breaks. One of the best additions to our household was a pull-up bar talk about getting some energy out and working large muscle groups. It was very effective. Also consider whether your child has had a meal or snack with protein to help stabilize their blood sugar. Are they hydrated?

If your child is on ADHD medication given an hour to kick in before you start in on schoolwork. Your child needs the benefit of optimal conditions to begin with. How is your kiddos mood before you begin homework? Does she have that surly look on her face? Start with a game, Uno is a great starter, or play a little game of charades or Pictionary. This builds parent child connection, plus it tips the scales in favor of learning by offering a fun introduction. Just be sure to give plenty of warning for transitions. For example, after our second hand of Uno we’re going to do this worksheet and read a book. Try not to use phrases like after this, we’re going to do schoolwork to a kid with ADHD, this sounds eternal. He thinks I’ll be doing school for forever and there will be no fun today or ever again.

One thing my son’s therapist advised us to do was utilizing tally mark countdowns. Does he have 10 math problems? Make 10 tally marks and have him erase one after each problem is completed and then celebrate when there’s nothing left. Praise her perseverance and work ethic and if you have to stop early in the tally mart countdown your child has a clear representation in their mind about how many erases they have to do when they come back. This is good for setting expectations in their mind for later. If this is a major frustration for you is fidgeting, try a weighted blanket in the lab as you do a worksheet. Read a book or do other desk work. Sometimes my child likes to drape it over his shoulders for a calming hug effect as he reads and works.

The important thing to remember through this is that it’s a process of finding what works for your child. Give it time. Progress is not always linear. Some days are just tough and we get through the work as best we can with the skills we know but by approaching schoolwork from a perspective that it is the ADHD complicating things and not our child we can have compassion and we have creativity to get the job done. This method also teaches our children skills and strategies that will benefit them as they grow and develop.

Be sure to check out our blog for more information on parenting foster and adoptive children who are struggling with ADHD.


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