Living in confinement is a difficult, very difficult time. Not being able to go out even for a walk is a stressful and unpleasant situation for both adults and children and especially for people with ADHD.
Boys and girls with this disorder cannot sit still, needing to expend their energy (if at some point they become exhausted) all day. If they cannot go for a run or play in the park, it is clear that their families have had to face a complicated situation which adds to the difficulty which is already confinement in itself.
This is why it is so important to give guidelines for parents on how to help a child with ADHD get out of childbirth in anticipation that we’ll have to relive one like the one that debuted in March.
Tips to help a child with ADHD get through months of childbirth
The first confinement was very disruptive. Nobody expected it and nobody knew how to adapt it. It was a real headache for parents and teachers, having issues with the care and upbringing of children at home, those who have seen their routines and activities change due to COVID-19. This was even more serious in the case of children with ADHD, so they need additional structure and support to deal with the care issues and behaviors inherent in their disorder.
The confinement of March brought to the ground the daily life of all the children who saw their school schedule vanish, being replaced in the best possible way by virtual lessons. The routine set in after half a school year ended abruptly. The problem is, kids, especially those with attention and hyperactivity issues, need routine.
Whether it’s funny or boring, they need something that structures their time, that lets them know what’s coming next.. Otherwise there will be uncertainty and this particularly disrupts the learning and development of any child.
But the problem was not only the closing of classes, but also the inability to get out. Children need to play, to expend their energy on running, and to have fun with others. Not being able to go out, being locked up for weeks at home was a particularly difficult situation for children with ADHD. Being a completely new situation at the time, there were no manuals on what to do in this situation which resulted in poor sleeping habits, abuse of new technology and various behavioral issues. .
Fortunately, we learned from the first lockdown. We don’t know exactly if there will be a new lockdown, although unfortunately the situation does not look good. The first childbirth caught parents, psychologists, psychoeducators, teachers and, of course, children with unaffected ADHD. Fortunately, after the experience of the first incarceration, we learned what to do to help a child with ADHD through in the best possible way and prevent this overwhelming situation from profoundly altering your behavior and emotional regulation.
How to overcome confinement with children with ADHD
The best strategy for parents of children with ADHD is to anticipate the likely confinement situation. During the first childbirth, everything happened suddenly: between the cancellation of the lessons of the little ones at the house and the parents not knowing how they were going to telework, everyone was confused. Fortunately, now that we have had this first experience, we know what we can do to overcome this situation with our children with ADHD.
It is essential to design a weekly action plan that is reviewable, accepted and modifiable. This plan will be a schedule that will organize the time of the child with ADHD, which as we said is essential for those little ones who have regulatory issues. The activities that should be included in this plan should focus on what the child can learn at home, some that pique his interest and serve to keep him occupied in case he is unable to leave the house.
However, how and what points should this action plan have? The life of children with ADHD can be very “chaotic”, so having good order and good organization is the best ally in combating the problems associated with this disorder, problems that will emerge head-on with confinement. When planning the week for children with ADHD, the following should be considered:
1. Create a routine
Boys and girls with ADHD have difficulty with self-regulation, motivation and activation. These are children who they are frustrated, blown up and altered more easily, especially in ambiguous, repetitive, monotonous and low-stimulating situations. This is why it is so essential to create a very clear, thought out and maintained routine for the long haul. The routine will give you a feeling of calm and control and as a result, the functioning of the family during this confinement will be a little less difficult.
It is good to keep your interest in new activities, but the body of this plan i.e. the main structure must contain activities which are always the same on the same days at the same time. The plan must be made in the image and likeness of the schedules the child was used to in class, which is why it is very important to take into account the subjects he has done in the week.
2. Post the calendar in writing
It is very important to leave the written plan in a clearly visible place in the house, preferably the refrigerator door or a place where the child will spend a lot of time during childbirth (office, living room or your bedroom). The schedule should have visual elements that easily indicate what the child needs to do (For example, do math homework = draw a calculator), mark subjects or types of tasks in different colors
In the event that the school has not organized a specific timetable for virtual lessons, it is particularly recommended that the child do his homework after breakfast, just when he is already awake and still not too much. tired to concentrate. Anything that is leisure can be done in the afternoon, which is the recommended time for that. You can be told that if you can manage to do your homework in the morning, you will have the whole afternoon free for whatever you want to do.
3. Agree on the planning
It is very important that children participate in the planning. The idea is not that they do what they want, but also that they are imposed only on boring activities, which they will leave in half and change them for all kinds of distractors that they will seek them. themselves.
For this reason we need to talk to them about what they would like to do to make as much as possible educational and recreational activities, which serve to entertain but at the same time to learn.
4. Take care of your personal habits
But in addition to taking school activities into account, personal habits must also be established and maintained. Many children associate the idea of being home with a vacation, which shouldn’t happen in confinement as it can seriously alter their sleep patterns, hygiene and, of course, their studies. In fact, it’s not just something that has happened to young children, with or without ADHD, but also to adults.
For this reason, it is essential to clearly indicate in the schedule what time they should wake up, when they should go to bed, indicate the days when they should shower or bathe, when brushing their teeth, when they dress (their pajamas all day at home), what time they can watch TV, for how long … and any other behavior that comes to their mind. They need to understand that no matter how home they are, they keep on being on a weekday and so must to study..
As parents, we need to make sure this happens. If the child does not wake up by himself, we will have to wake him up even though we feel sorry for him. Also, we must respect the hours of breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and, if possible, set a meal schedule imitating that of school canteens. The idea is that the child’s life is as organized as possible, despite the uncertainty of not knowing when he will be able to go out again to see his classmates or play in the park.
5. Involve the child in household chores
In addition to organizing educational tasks and personal habits, we can take advantage of the child’s confinement to help us with household chores, which is a great way to get him to channel his overactive energy into something that he will have to learn. be able to be a functional adult. They can agree to tasks in which parents and children help each other, such as sweeping, making beds, washing dishes …
Involving the child in homework will teach him things that will be useful for the future and which, as a rule, are not taught in school, let alone in a virtual classroom. In addition, it will allow parents and children to share a moment together, not necessarily playful, but meaningful because children will see that they can be useful and help their parents in home care.
6. Reward the child appropriately
In general, children with ADHD need short-term gratification. For this reason, tasks should be organized in such a way that after making one less enjoyable, you make one that interests you in order to keep your attention. For example, if you don’t like doing your homework or studying math, but read, we can organize your morning by putting the activity “do homework” first followed by “read” and then “do”. math ”. The idea is to intersperse the activities so that the gratification is not continuous but not too long.
however, the “big price” should arrive in the afternoon. The playful time of the day should come when the child is too tired to continue his studies, usually after 5 p.m. This is the time when you can play video games, exercise at home, listen to music, do crafts, or watch TV. It is also very important to clarify what leisure activities you can do on your own and what you can do with your parents.
Although electronic devices are a price like any other, it is very important to limit their use, especially since children will not be able to leave the house or have direct contact with their friends, it is likely that they will lose track of time with these devices. . If we let them use them, we should monitor them for a while or at least set up a parental control program and schedule the device to turn off after a certain time.
7. Contact the school
It is very important keep in touch with the school to find out what to do. It is important to know what supports our child receives in the classroom and how he or she could maintain the continuity of what has been learned at home. We need to ask teachers what we need to do to keep our child organized, focused, and task-oriented. They cannot omit the following questions:
“What worked with my son when he wanted me to focus?”
“How can I help with homework?”
8. Organize sessions with other parents
With the experience of the first childbirth, many parents have learned the importance of staying connected and getting organized so that your sons and daughters can see at least through a screen. Without these sessions, many children would not have seen their peers for more than 6 months, as the de-escalation started right at the end of the school year.
However, these sessions were often anarchic, in that they were remembered overnight. Ideally, parents should organize at least one weekly session for children to share what happened to them during the week, the homework they did, what they would like to do when they can get back together, or play an online game.
These sessions can also be particularly nutritious for parents., Especially in a group with children with ADHD. One of the parents has surely discovered an activity or a strategy that allows him to emotionally regulate his child in such difficult times and that he will have no problem sharing with others. A separate group can also be set up to discuss how they are going to set it up to coordinate children’s learning at home.
Of course, in addition to parents, teachers of boys and girls should also be consulted. The teacher is not just the adult who goes to class and tells them what to learn, but a man or woman who is as much of a point of reference as a parent can be. For this reason, it is necessary to keep them informed and also to ask them for information and, as a virtual recreation, to organize a game session including them as well.
9. Use positive attention
Positive attention is the most powerful motivator it has to influence children’s behavior, and this is especially the case for children with ADHD. Children with attention and impulse control difficulties benefit greatly from receiving important, encouraging and intense praise.. When we talk about positive attention, we shouldn’t ask ourselves if our feedback is negative or positive, but how long and how we pay attention to it and the quality of the feedback.
It is not the same to tell the child a short and concise “Good job” as a “Wow! Great for starting homework so early!”. The second comment is more personal, better thought out, and has a much more motivating element. The child tries harder if he sees that adults appreciate their efforts. The child needs to see that what he does is valued, not that he is allowed to do his homework to keep him away from adults and prevent them from disturbing them while they telecommute.
10. Indicate when adults are free
Finally, we’re going to talk about something that has more to do with adults than with children: telecommuting. In confinement, it is not only the classes of the little ones who stop being face to face but who also change the way they work. During the first childbirth, it was particularly chaotic for workers who had never in their entire life done something like working from home, having to do household chores and looking after their children at the same time, that is- that is to say juggling with life.
For this reason, it is very important make children understand that there will be times when they need to do homework or have fun. The problem is that adults don’t always follow set schedules, so we can’t tell the child that we will be free at a specific time of day because we don’t even know whether that will be true or not. For this reason, as an alternative, we can use a traffic light to tell the child if the parent is free.
This method is not very complicated. It simply consists of putting a green (free) or red (occupied) card on the office door or wherever the child can see it and find out whether the adult is free or not. If both parents are working, they can both use the same method using their own traffic lights. So the parents can take turns playing or watching the child.
It is also very important that if we have promised to spend time with our child with ADHD, even though this also applies to a child without the disorder, we are not distracted. If he has asked us to help him with his homework or if he wants to play parchment, we will have to keep the work mail or cell phone out of our sight. The idea is to spend time with our child, to disconnect from work now that we can and to enjoy this moment. parent-child which is one of the few good things that childbirth brings to us.
Caring for children with ADHD is no longer easy in normal situations due to their emotional regulation issues, Self-control and impulsiveness, which is even more complicated in times of confinement. In the hypothetical event that they lock us in our house, expect the kids to be very nervous about not being able to go out and play in the streets and spend all the hyperactive energy their little bodies are capable of. produce. The first childbirth took us by surprise, the second more.
Routine is essential in helping a child with ADHD overcome confinement in the least overwhelming way possible.. Knowing when to do homework, alternating enjoyable activities with the ones you like least, is an ideal way to keep yourself busy and continue learning at a time when the main place of learning, school, is closed. Personal habits, sleep patterns, hygiene, and how to help around the house should also be monitored.
Finally, it is crucial to keep him in touch with friends, because, as with the first one, it is not known how long a new lock-up could last. It can take weeks, months, six months. Whatever the weather, it’s crucial for boys and girls to know how their classmates are, to see their faces through video calling apps, and to be able to talk about the same things they were talking about during class, only now in virtual form.
- Brown, ET (2006). Attention deficit disorder. A hazy mind in children and adults. Barcelona: Masson.
- Korzeniowsk, C. & Ison, MS (2008) Psychoeducational strategies for parents and teachers of minors with ADHD. Argentine Journal of the Psychological Clinic, XVII, pp. 65-71.