Inattentive ADHD can be challenging for parents in many ways, especially when school is involved. Here are 8 ways you can help provide the structure and support to improve your child or teen’s chances of success:
- Use a family calendar or app to create a visual layout of deadlines, activities, events and other important notes with reminders for teenagers to easily refer to and help remind them.
- Have specific spots around the house for specific items, such as a hook near the front door for keys or a place on a desk for schoolwork to help your teen stay organized and lessen the chance of them forgetting things.
- Keep a routine. Life happens and things get moved around, like dinner at a different time or a holiday, but keeping routine as consistent as possible helps alleviate chaos and keeps everyone is on the same page. It can also help in regards to medication timings and sleep routine.
- Know their listening cues. Just because your child or teen is looking directly at you, that does not mean they are listening. Make sure to pick up on these cues:
- Create an agreement with your child that if they are unable to answer you they should say something like “I’m going to need some time to think about that”, or “I am having trouble listening right now, can we talk about this in a little bit”.
- Know when to bring up important subjects – if they just got home from school, then it probably isn’t the best time to ask them questions or give them important information. They may need some downtime to recharge.
- Change your perspective on daydreaming. Everyone daydreams – however, children and teenagers with ADHD may daydream so much that it causes disruption in their everyday functioning at school, activities or social situations. However, we need to understand that the default daydreaming mode can be managed when we can accept it for what it is. If we constantly scold our kids for not paying attention or give them strategies to help them focus and not daydream, just thinking about not daydreaming can make them daydream. Instead, switch your perspective and think of ways that daydreaming can be proactive:
- Encourage your child or teen to be aware when they are daydreaming and record what they were daydreaming about and when/where they are daydreaming. Sometimes just writing down the thought can help put it to rest and get back to the actual task at hand. At the end of each day have them reflect on this and see if any of their daydreams are worth acting upon. For instance, if they are daydreaming about things they want to do this school year with their friends, have them make a list of things they want to do and send it to their friends to start planning.
- Both of you should shift your thinking about daydreaming from distractions to opportunities.
- Use proximity when talking. Make sure you are physically close to them, have eye contact, have their attention before you speak, and be conscious of the “uh huh” false listening cue. If you do find that they are nodding along but perhaps aren’t hearing a word you’re saying, do not get frustrated, but stay calm and say something like, “I think you may not be hearing what I’m saying right now, should we talk about this a little later when you are more focused?”
- Teach them to use reflective listening strategies. For instance have your child or teen repeat or summarize what you have said to make sure they have gotten all the details. They can use phrases such as, “You’re saying that…”, “So, you want me to…” etc.
- May never be a linear thinker? And not being a linear thinker is not a bad thing! Non-linear thinkers are perhaps a lot more creative and can think outside the box when solving problems. Celebrate this quality in them.
Here’s even more info on helping your child or manage their ADHD.