Why a post on ADHD on a dyslexia education site, you may ask?
There is a high correlation between dyslexia and attention issues such as ADD and ADHD. If you are beginning your search for information on ADD or ADHD, please read this post that includes many of the signs of ADD and ADHD.
As homeschoolers, we have tremendous freedom to adjust our learning environment for the different learning styles of our kids. We can choose curriculum, schedules, even foods and lighting that complement rather than frustrate our kids preferred way of learning.
However, any parent of a child that struggles with attention, whether it be inattentiveness or hyperactivity, knows that these struggles are not limited to the classroom. ADD and ADHD affect many areas of life including social situations, down time at home, ability to complete daily chores, and even sports and music practice.
How can we help our kids to have more control of themselves in the day-to-day without using prescription drugs?
Note: I am not discouraging the use of medication for ADD and ADHD. Many people use and are greatly helped by these medications. These ‘natural treatments’ are provided as another way to help your child be as successful as possible in their home, school and lives. What works for one child may not work for another child – each child is unique!
Studies have shown that using medication alone to treat ADD and ADHD is not sufficient and must be combined with one or more non-drug ADD treatments.
Natural Treatments for ADD and ADHD
Today we’re going to talk about the number one, most effective, natural treatment for ADD and ADHD.
All kids need firm boundaries and none so much as the child with ADD or ADHD. Learning to implement a consistent set of rewards and consequences into your daily routine is one of the most highly effective natural treatments for kids with attention issues.
Interestingly, a lot of behavior modification is simply common sense parenting.
How to Set up a Succesful System of Rewards and Consequences
Choose a specific goal. Trying to focus on too many goals at once can be difficult to monitor. Start with one goal and as progress is made, add another.
Create a visual reminder. This should outline what is expected of your child. What you use here will depend on the age of your child. For my older kids, this comes in the form of a checklist. For younger kids is can be something as simple as a 3×5 card with an image of the desired behavior posted in a prominent place in your work or school area.
Choose the specific reward and consequence. Effective behavior modification finds a good balance between rewards and consequences. Parents are terrific at knowing when their kids are becoming overwhelmed or discouraged and when the scale needs to tip back towards rewards rather than consequences.
Here are a few examples of rewards and consequences that we use in our home with our ADD and ADHD kids:
Example of consequences:
For our 7-year old. I have mentioned before how we draw 3 lines on our homeschool room (dining room) dry erase board every day for our young son with ADHD. Because he tends to complain and have a low tolerance for things that are difficult, we have chosen this area to focus on of late.
If he begins to complain, I give him a gentle reminder, “It sounds like you are complaining.” If he does not self-correct (stop complaining) I remind him that he will lose a line if he continues.
If he loses all 3 lines by 2:00 when he normally is allowed an hour on the iPad, he loses his turn for the day.
Having this clear plan in place helps my son monitor his own behavior and it helps me not to feel overwhelmed and out of control.
For our 11-year old daughter. My older daughter strongly dislikes the tediousness of chores, especially room cleaning. At 11-years old, she has a well-established morning routine that she is expected to complete, without reminders, each day. (This is easily accomplished at this age with a simple chore check list.)
Our daughter also enjoys time on the Amazon Kindle that she received for her birthday last year. She looks up recipes, crafts, information on animals, listens to music and audio books or plays on Minecraft with her brother and sister.
One of our goals for her is to teach her self-control with her Kindle and she is allowed to keep it in her room. However, she is not allowed to go on it without permission yet as we work to establish good boundaries and healthy habits.
At first, if she was found on it without permission, for any seemingly good reason, she would lose it for the day. Now that that boundary has been established for some time, if she is on it without permission, she loses the Kindle for the week.
Examples of rewards:
For our 7-year old. I wrote recently about teaching the distracted child and how this little guy can easily get overstimulated at our weekly co-op day. I implement the above-mentioned consequence but if he has exhibited good behavior and self control at co-op on any particular day, I am quick to observe that, praise his efforts and offer some reward or treat such as renting a new release from the RedBox DVD rental or buying a box of popsicles or other treat.
For our 11-year old. They key to the successful use of rewards is to find something that is motivating to your child. Set up a challenge such as completing morning routines without reminders for a week and earn some reward. For this child it may be a trip to the craft store for supplies or some other activity for which she has been asking.
Having this clear, simple strategy set up alleviates many struggles for both the child and the parent.
Other Natural Treatments for ADD and ADHD
There are a variety of natural treatments that alleviate the symptoms of distractibility, and for some kids hyperactivity. These include (posts coming soon!):
Omega-3 or Fish Oil & Nutritional Changes
Working Memory Training
“Green Time” or time spent outdoors