Coping Skills for ADHD Child (7 Tips for Parents)

Here, we are going to describe eight useful coping skills for children with ADHD. If you’re parenting an ADHD kid, you will find that these make life easier for everyone in the family. Readers will first learn some basics about ADHD. Then, we will dive deeper into learning about these coping skills.

What are some Coping Skills for Children with ADHD?

Below are listed some effective coping skills for children with ADHD that might help you parent better:

  • Expressing Strong Emotions in Acceptable Ways
  • Consistency in Daily Plans
  • Getting Enough Sleep
  • Breaking Tasks into Smaller Components
  • Engaging in Physical Activity
  • Healthy Eating Habits
  • Role Play
  • Getting Enough Praise

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder featuring difficulty paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviours, and hyperactivity.

Though these behaviours are quite common in children, with ADHD, they’re clearly excessive.

You can tell that a child might have ADHD if they are exhibiting the following behaviours:

  • Being extremely talkative
  • Fidgeting a lot
  • Being restless/Inability to sit still
  • Excessive daydreaming
  • Poor memory/Absent-mindedness
  • Excessive impatience
  • Inability to control impulsive urges
  • Difficult peer relationships

In case this list of behaviours describes your child pretty well, it’s recommended to consult with a licensed mental health professional to check for ADHD. It is a treatable condition that with effort and support can be managed well.

8 Coping Skills for Children with ADHD

In this section, we are going to discuss eight important coping skills for children dealing with ADHD. In fact, these skills are relevant to the caregiver of the child as well. When the entire support system is aware of these strategies, it improves the chances of restoring functionality despite the disorder.

Expressing Strong Emotions in Acceptable Ways

It is crucial to understand that children with ADHD have a difficult time identifying and processing their emotions. Any strong emotion, positive or negative, might end up causing them to engage in unwanted behaviours.

For example, a child might start banging on furniture when feeling overwhelmed or may feel the need to run around if anxious. To quell such actions, both the child and the caregiver must be trained in recognising the emotion and expressing it in an acceptable way.

An acceptable way is something that doesn’t cause disruption or hurt anyone. Using colours and a large piece of paper is an effective strategy for children to express their feelings.

Consistency in Daily Plans

This is something that works well with all children regardless of whether they have ADHD or not. When a child’s daily routine is fixed and followed through consistently, there is a sense of predictability and stability.

Once you have worked out the optimal routine to ensure your child’s wellbeing, stick to it like Velcro. Consistency in daily plans helps ADHD children feel safe and manage their emotions much better. 

Research, too, has shown that a consistent routine goes a long way in behaviour management for children dealing with various neurodevelopmental disorders.

Getting Enough Sleep

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest. If you start observing your child’s behaviour, you’ll notice a direct link between how well they slept and how functional they are. Without enough rest, they tend to find their environment a lot more triggering, leading to more unwanted behaviours.

According to this scientific review, ADHD tends to increase sleep disturbances in children due to nighttime activity. By ensuring good sleep hygiene, you can help your child cope with these issues and live a more satisfying life.

Sleep hygiene can be practiced by:

  • Having a fixed bedtime routine for every day
  • No screen time 1 hour before bed
  • Designating the bed only for sleep and no other activity
  • Doing some grounding and relaxation exercises before sleep

Breaking Tasks into Smaller Components

Since a big part of ADHD is the inability to pay attention for prolonged periods, it makes sense to break down any task into smaller, doable components. For instance, let’s say that the task is to finish two pages of homework.

This can be broken down into the following components:

  • Getting your desk ready with everything you might need (the book, all stationery, a light, some water
  • Sitting down and reading what’s on the first page
  • Thinking about how to answer the questions
  • Completing half a page at a time till you’re done (or smaller chunks if needed)

After successful completion of each step, the caregiver needs to effusively praise the child. Some might find this a bit much but praise can really go a long way in improving a child’s behaviour.

Eventually, with enough practice, the child will get used to the whole routine and develop a useful coping skill.

Engaging in Physical Activity

Physical activity, movement, and exercise are well established ways of maintaining wellness for anyone. However, when it comes to children with ADHD, this is a highly fruitful way of coping with hyperactivity.

When a child engages regularly in some sort of physical activity, it helps them channel all that excessive energy. Not only is the energy released in a healthy and contructive way, it’s also excellent for their mental health.

Movement of any kind releases endorphins, which are hormones that cause a feeling of elation. Happy children, or at least calm and neutral ones, are a lot better at managing their behaviour.

Healthy Eating Habits

It’s not surprising that the kind of food a child eats also plays a role in their behaviour. That’s why another coping skill for children with ADHD is to eat a balanced and nutritious diet with limits of sugar intake.

It’s hard to convince children not to have candy, ice cream, desserts, or fizzy drinks. But if the caregiver and the child are taught about how sugar increases their hyperactivity, and shown how to inculcate reasonable limits, it helps everyone cope with the disorder.

Don’t be too hard on them or force complete abstinence; that doesn’t really help in the long run. Instead, use a token economy where sweet treats need to be earned by good behaviour.

Role Play

If you have an ADHD child at home, you’ve probably experienced the sudden and embarrassing tantrums in public spaces. It’s not unusual for an ADHD child to find themselves screaming and rolling on the floor, overwhelmed.

A good coping strategy to avoid such situations is to practice appropriate ways to behave in advance. The caregiver can help train the child by simulating public scenarios at home.

You can make a game out of it and play things like ‘going to the supermarket’, ‘eating out at a restaurant’, and ‘what to do when you’re upset’. Whenever the child gets it right in the practice session, don’t forget to praise.

Getting Enough Praise

We mentioned praise multiple times here and the reason it is a separate item on our list of coping skills is that it is extremely effective. Far more effective than any punishment or negative reinforcement you can come up with.

Child behaviour expert Alan Kazdin reports that when desired behaviour is praised in a specific way, it is guaranteed to elicit more of that behaviour. This method can be explained in the following steps:

  • Mention the achievement
  • Speak effusively (for example, “Wow! Timmy finished the first step!”)
  • Reward the child by touching them in an affectionate manner

Kazdin’s extensive research proves that when children are praised enough and in the right way, even the most unruly of them starts to behave.

Conclusion

Here, we described eight useful coping skills for children with ADHD. If you’re parenting an ADHD kid, you will find that these make life easier for everyone in the family. Readers first learned some basics about ADHD. Then, we dived deeper into learning about these coping skills.

The coping skills for ADHD children included in this blog were Expressing Strong Emotions in Acceptable Ways, Consistency in Daily Plans, Getting Enough Sleep, Breaking Tasks into Smaller Components, Engaging in Physical Activity, Healthy Eating Habits, Role Play, and Getting Enough Praise.

FAQs (Coping Skills for ADHD Child)

How can I help my ADHD child focus?

Here are some useful tips to show you how to help your ADHD child focus:

  • Break the task into smaller components
  • Allow taking quick but frequent breaks
  • Be consistent with your routine
  • Teach them relaxation techniques
  • Fins a way to channelise extra energy

How do ADHD students learn best?

The best way to teach ADHD students is to understand what their present attention span is and only challenge it bit by bit as they become ready. So, try using as many worksheets as possible and keep them short. If you have to quiz them, only ask a few questions at a time. Most importantly, make sure they get several small breaks at regularly spaced intervals.

Do puzzles help with ADHD?

Puzzles and games are a great way to encourage ADHD children to learn and grow. This is applicable not only for academic pursuits but also to reinforce desired behaviour. Anything you want them to learn can be made into a game for better results. It helps even more if there is a specific, desirable reward for successful completion.

References