Interesting research hit the news this morning dealing with ADHD and kids. I know that's a big parenting concern for many of you. Here are the findings:
The National Institute of Mental Health reported the most detailed study ever of the brains of kids with ADHD. Brain images clearly show that crucial parts of the brains of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder develop more slowly than other kids' brains. The section that puts the breaks on their inappropriate actions, the ability to focus attention and remember things from moment to moment is just slower to mature. The development lag can be as much as three years.
That's critical information for parenting. It means we need to really tailor our strategies so that our children can process.
Here are five research takeaways that might help a child with a short attention span. I used them when I worked as a special education teacher:
Use the Rewind Method
Say what you want. Then stop. Ask your child to rewind (or repeat) what you just said
Start by asking your child to do just one thing ("Pick up your toys"). When he can successfully comply with one request, then add two. And then three.
I taught attention disorder kids for years and quickly recognized that sounds and sights are distracting. It seemed to help if I put my students in their own little "cubbies." I simply put plain bulletin boards on three sides of their desks so they had private study carrels.
Chunk the tasks
Kids with shorter attention spans get overwhelmed with big assignments and often give up. So fold the assignment into thirds or fourths so your child sees only one part at a time. Then tell him "Start with this." Add each part after the first is successfully completed.
Any child with a short attention span is going to have trouble sticking to any task for a long while. You're better off asking your child to work for the average length for his attention span plus one minute (i.e., if he can only concentrate for five minutes, aim for six). Gradually add time as your child's attention increases. A sanddial works like a charm. Tell him, "Work until the sand runs out. Then take a break for two minutes. And then work again until the sand runs out."
Let me know what you're doing to help your child succeed
Dr. Michele Borba is the author of Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me: The Top 25 Friendship Problems and How to Solve Them.