Children diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) exhibit a number of unique characteristics that shape their development, interactions, communication, and progression, in a certain way.
Logically, every child is different, but knowing these basic characteristics can help us. know how to treat a child with ADHD.
In this article, in addition to sharing the profile of a child with ADHD, we explain some guidelines (and how to apply them) that will help us connect with them, improve their quality of life and improve their control. self and behavior, among others.
What does a child with ADHD look like? symptoms
Before offering some guidelines on how to treat a child with ADHD, in order to promote their development, facilitate their learning and the emergence of appropriate behaviors, improve their well-being, strengthen ties with it… We believe it is important to take a brief “x-ray” of the characteristics that children with ADHD may have.
For that, it is important to understand that every child is a world, And that a diagnosis should in no way be classified or labeled.
It is true, on the other hand, that ADHD, like all disorders, has a number of characteristic symptoms that will manifest idiosyncratically in every child. The main symptoms of ADHD are threefold: hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.
For its part, the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders) considers that ADHD can be of three types: with a predominance of inattention, with a predominance of hyperactivity or combined (with a predominance of both types of symptoms) .
Remember that there is ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). In the case of hyperactivity, this results in a constant need to move.
Parents often refer to their children with ADHD as “Children who have an engine inside that never stops”. In other words, alluding to this symptom, these are children who are moved, agitated, have difficulty sitting or standing, etc.
Impulsivity, another key symptom of ADHD, is basically that inability (or great difficulty) to think before acting. Thus, these are children who act impulsively, to whom they find it hard to think before doing it or saying it, With difficulty waiting their turn, impatient, etc.
Logically, this can all be resolved, and like the rest of the symptoms, it is not something that defines or “catalog” them as such indefinitely. This is just another hallmark of ADHD. Many times, because of this impulsiveness and this difficulty in waiting, behavioral disturbances associated with the disorder appear (or for some other reason).
Inattention, also present in many cases of ADHD (particularly in the combined and inattentive subtypes), consists of difficulty maintaining sustained attention (concentration) for a period of time, Towards a concrete stimulus.
Often there is also a deficit of selective care (ability to change the focus of attention), although what predominates is the deficit of sustained care.
Finally, in order to diagnose ADHD, the symptoms mentioned above must interfere with the child’s life, And that they also appear in more than one context: for example at home and at school.
How to treat a child with ADHD
How to treat a child with ADHD? Well, normally, but if we want to adapt to it, understand it, understand it, improve its learning and improve its quality of life, we have to follow a series of guidelines. Here are a few (although there are more):
1. Work on self-control
Self-control is a difficult area for children with ADHD because, due to their impulsivity, they mainly have problems with modulating their own actions. That is, they struggle to properly control their actions, and they struggle to repeatedly achieve that much-needed sense of internal control.
So, a first guideline on how to treat a child with ADHD is to work with him on his self-control. How can we do this? Whether we are teachers, educators, psychologists, parents … you will find two resources here.
1.1. The turtle technique
The first tool we offer is the turtle technique, which consist to teach the child to answer the keyword “turtle” (Shrinking, closing his body, putting his head in his arms in a kind of imaginary shell …).
This will be done when you feel overwhelmed, angry, or threatened, so that you can control your emotions and impulses in the face of environmental stimuli, for example.
1.2. Self-study training
Another useful technique for working on self-control is self-instruction, which involves help the child to internalize the next steps, before making a decision:
- I THINK
- He acted
It can be worked with images or pictograms, for example through the symbol of “STOP” (traffic light).
2. Reinforce appropriate behaviors
It is important, when it comes to treating a child with ADHD, to work on their behavior as well. There are different strategies for this. One of them is recognize, reinforce and reward their appropriate behaviors, So that these increase.
3. Apply behavior modification techniques
In addition to reinforcing the appropriate behaviors, we can also use different behavior modification techniques, in order to also improve their inappropriate behaviors (reduce them and replace them with others).
We can do it through different techniques (whether at school, at home …), such as:
3.1. free time
It consists of taking the child out of the reinforcing context in which he is immersed (For example in the classroom or in the backyard), so that you temporarily “lose” the reinforcers (which keep your behavior problematic) and reflect on your inappropriate behavior. It is recommended to apply one minute of time outdoors, for each year of the child’s age.
3.2. Cost of response
This technique implies that the child loses a reinforcement object for him (Or a token, in the context of a token economy), as a result of inappropriate behavior.
4. Avoid criticizing others
It seems pretty obvious, but sometimes it isn’t. Another guideline on how to treat a child with ADHD is: Do not criticize their behavior or speak badly in front of other children.
It is important not to lower your self-esteem and that they don’t feel embarrassed, because it’s often something that they can’t control or that they just haven’t learned to do better in another way.
5. Avoid excessive use of punishment
Often, punishment is of little use because it does not teach the child behaviors that are alternatives to inappropriate behavior. Outraged, it is not easy to find a really effective punishment.
That is why we should avoid its use with children with ADHD, and replace it with: reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, use of overcorrection (which teaches the child positive behavior), etc.
6. Explain the behavior expected of him / her
Another important guideline that we can use is to explain the child what is expected of him, for example when he is at home and has to do certain tasks, or in class, in the park, etc.
Often they do not act (or even do not act correctly) out of ignorance, because no one explicitly told them what to expect from them, not because they don’t want to or don’t know.
7. Describe their behavior avoiding the verb “to be”
This is important not only in terms of interactions with him / her, but also in terms of any academic or psychological relationships we have to make on a child with ADHD.
like that, the ideal is to describe their behavior (for example “their behavior was inappropriate …”), and not to describe themselves (For example “he is a poorly educated child …”).
- American Psychiatric Association -APA- (2014). DSM-5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Madrid: Panamericana.
- Horse (2002). Manual for the cognitive-behavioral treatment of psychological disorders. Flight. 1 and 2. Madrid. 21st century (chapters 1-8, 16-18).
- Rodó, JJ (2011). ADHD. Educational intervention program. MDELC SÁNCHEZ. International Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, INFAD Journal of Psychology, 1 (1): 621-628