Think about what you have noticed your child is naturally drawn to and then explore your community for opportunities to showcase his interests this summer. Some great places to start are recreation departments, community colleges, volunteer organizations, animal shelters, and libraries. Help your child find an activity that can be his “own.”
Everyone has probably told their child to take a deep breath at some point in time but have you told your child why? Explain to your child that when she gets nervous before a test her brain is probably not getting enough oxygen because she is holding her breath without even realizing it! Make sure to explain that when her brain doesn’t get enough oxygen she can’t think clearly. Suggest to your child that she takes a couple of deep breaths before a test to get that oxygen flowing back to her brain.
Establish a no put-down policy. Your child probably already knows that he/she isn’t allowed to put siblings or friends down, but has never considered how hurtful it is to turn negativity onto him/herself. For your no put-down policy, explain that for every put down you hear, your child has to give a compliment to that person (even if that person is him/herself!). Then give your child an extra compliment for good measure! The constant positivity is bound to rub off on your child and at the very least, will demonstrate that you believe in him/her.
Remember ADHD is all about what is stimulating to the brain and once the novelty of a new school year wears off the motivation level tends to drop too. One of the best things you can do is ask your child what he thinks he can do differently this year. Often times this pattern repeats itself because there was never a pause to try and figure out what to do differently. This entails having a plan of action not just saying this time will be different. Ask your child if he can acknowledge when his motivation level is dipping and ask for help? Do incentives work well? Ask your child what he thinks you can do to be supportive rather than a nagging parent. Offer suggestions to your child only after he has analyzed the situation himself.
It is heartbreaking for a parent to see their child’s hard work go unrewarded and it can be crushing to a child’s self-esteem. Contact your child’s teacher at the beginning of the year and be honest about your son’s difficulties. Highlight his desire to achieve, his creative energy and the vast, yet misdirected effort he has put into projects in the past. Your child’s teacher may offer to review the directions with your child or may provide you with the directions so you can assist your son. Always ask your child if the teacher handed out a rubric. Rubrics are fantastic for the ADHD brain because they are specific and easy to follow. Rubrics will show you and your child exactly what is expected and how the project will be graded.
Side effects are certainly a valid concern and should be taken seriously. Educate yourself on the possible side effects and make sure you are comfortable with your pharmacist; he or she will be a great resource. If your child does experience side effects let your pediatrician know and ask yourself whether they are tolerable or if they are changing the quality of life.