October is AD/HD Awareness Month!

Check here next Thursday for our AD/HD Quick Tip “The Upside of Daydreaming.”

Children with ADHD have difficulty with certain tasks because the part of the brain responsible for those tasks is under-stimulated. The anticipation of a reward can help to stimulate that part of the brain, setting that child up for greater success. We often associate the word reward with material things, but it doesn’t have to be the case.

  • Rewards can also come in the form of privileges (TV or video game time, a story read aloud, a game with a parent).
  • One of the highest forms of rewards for our children is praise! Goodness knows that an impulsive child probably gets reprimanded far more frequently than praised, so words of encouragement and thanks are like gold.
  • If you use a point or token system that leads to a material reward, the reward should come fairly quickly, or the connection between good behavior and the positive result is lost. The reward should be desirable enough to motivate your child to do the hard work.
  • Because boredom is a big foe of ADHD, the reward should be frequently changed so the novelty of your system doesn’t fade. 

Be consistent. Try this consistently for a week. You may be surprised to see how your child begins to gear their behavior towards the type that earns praise. During the first week, if they misstep, try to ignore it. Later, you can address it by lightheartedly saying, “Darn, looks like you’re having a hard time with not interrupting right now. But sometimes you’re really good at it! I bet you’ll get it next time.”

by Merriam Sarcia Saunders, LMFT

This Article's Author

Merriam Sarcia Saunders, LMFT, is a psychotherapist who specializes in helping families of children with autism spectrum disorder, AD/HD, and learning disabilities. She lives in Northern California.

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