In this age of technology, it is hard enough for children to remain focus with all the distractions abound. These days no teenager is without a cell phone and most are loaded with multiple apps, games, and social media platforms. This is disruptive enough among “typical” children, but when you factor in ADHD… all bets are off! How is any child expected to attend in class when the phone is constantly buzzing with activity? At least the classroom environment offers somewhat of a controlled setting to help mitigate against such distractions.
What happens when the child reaches home? If your home is anything like most, it’s a free for all! To most teenagers, reaching home signals a time to catch up on all the the social activity buzz they missed during school. For ADHD teenagers, it’s even worse. It offers an opportunity to escape into the endless array of visual activities the phone provides. As parents of teenagers with ADHD, it is essential that you provide a safe zone. I offer the following 5 tips to help create a more positive environment for your teen.
Pair Snack Time with Tech Time
Most kids come back from school starving and eager to raid the pantry. These days it’s hard to know what is more of a necessity… food or social media. There’s an easy answer for that. Choose both! Let your child know that the first hour after school is a time to snack and consume all the social media his or her heart desires. Some children may know to stop by 4:30, but ADHD teenagers may need a more solid reminder. Setting a timer is usually safe bet.
Shut the Phone Off… Get Your Study On
While this may seem like an obvious solution, you’ll be surprised at how often this gets overlooked. What can be less productive than having your child do the thing he most dreads (homework) while the thing he most loves (phone) sits right beside him? Talk about counter-productive, right? You get the point! For ADHD Teenagers, it may not be enough to turn the phone off, as it’s presence may still be too distracting. Taking the phone away may be the only viable solution to keep your child’s attention focused where it should be…homework!
Create a Routine
According to an article published in Fast Brain, “Daily routines provide a framework on which your life and processes can run more smoothly.” This is particularly important for Teenagers diagnosed with ADHD. With younger children, it is easier to mandate the rules and guidelines, whereas teens are more independent-minded and have a greater tendency to test the limits. As human beings, we are highly visual creatures and this characteristic holds even stronger among those with ADHD. Having a daily checklist chart like this one is essential:
This chart can be purchased here or if you prefer different content or a more unique design, feel free to browse for additional options. You’ll quickly discover what a lifesaver such visuals can be. It is important that a chart like this gets paired with study time. You want to get your child to turn to the chart the moment snack/tech time ends. It will likely take a few weeks of conditioning before your child uses it on his own, but you’ll be surprised how quickly the habit begins to take shape. Many ADHD symptoms are actually problems with executive functioning. Since charts like these are intended to help with organization, they also help promote a more efficient executive functioning system.
It has been very well known that mindfulness and meditation is helpful for those suffering with anxiety and depression, but it actually has more widespread applications. According to mindful.com, researchers have begun looking into the potential for meditation to treat ADD/ADHD. Just doing some breathing exercises for 5 minutes before beginning homework can make a world of difference in improving focus. One of the main reasons why children often have difficulty focusing is because they cannot shut off that constant chatter in the brain. Mindfulness exercise helps to quiet this disruptive activity so that concentration can take place.
I’m sure most of us find it difficult to sit for a sustained period of time doing math equations. Now imagine how much harder this might be for a teenager with ADHD. Expecting long stretches of studying will be a recipe for frustration. If your teen is frustrated on day one, how eager will he or she be to come back for more? Instead of having your child endure marathon study sessions, set a timer for 30 minutes. At the conclusion of each timing, your child can give himself a ten minute movement break. Walking around the house or doing some simple stretching exercises can be very helpful to get the blood flowing and rejuvenating the spirit. Perhaps taking a stroll outside for some fresh air could be even more beneficial. However they choose to use this time is entirely up to them.
I’m sure you feel that these tips are rather simple. In my experience, the simpler the solutions, the more sustainable they are. When dealing with teenagers, particularly those with ADHD, it is essential to break everything down into bit-sized pieces. School work is hard enough to manage… the solution shouldn’t have to be!