When you suspect that your child has ADHD, it is overwhelming and stressful. However, if you take things one day at a time, you can create an ADHD treatment plan and take action from the start. This allows you to pinpoint areas that need support while having a plan to combat the ever-changing demands of training and teaching your child as they grow.
What Is ADHD
ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has become much more common in recent years. In 2016, 11% of children in U.S. ages 4-17 were diagnosed. Up %43 from 2003 (ADDitude Magazine). My son was diagnosed when he was 6. There were many things that we thought were just normal behavioral issues that we now look back at and know that they were connected to ADHD.
Our brains produce dopamine, this neurotransmitter aids in the process of sending information throughout our brains to motivate us! People with ADHD create lower levels of this. Although the brain is sending information, the receptors are not able to receive it. Thus creating a break in concentration and focus. Which, in turn, causes constant distractibility, lack of sustained focus and motivation, poor executive function, and impulsive behavior among other difficulties.
For further reading on symptoms of ADHD in children, and how it affects the body and brain, go to ADDitude magazine. This website has tons of great information, tips, tools and resources for anyone with ADHD. It can also help you to learn as I have about how to create an ADHD treatment plan that works for your experience. I suggest subscribing to the email list on their site as well to receive amazing articles weekly!
Best Strategies For ADHD
One of the absolute best things you can do when you suspect ADHD is talking to your child’s teacher and doctor. Having open communication from the start is critical in supporting your child and helping him/her to feel successful and creating an ADHD treatment plan.
Take action by forming a way of tracking behavior. Then, come up with strategies to support your child’s self-monitoring. They have many demands at school that make life very difficult. Although children need to be able to follow strict lesson plans sometimes, having a few choices is one of the easiest ways for a child with ADHD feel like a sense of accomplishment. Whether this is choosing foods, books, activities or consequences. Coming up with this action plan with the teacher and doctor is best for everyone involved.
Along with setting up a system for your child, you must all participate in behavior management. At first, this will be a tedious task or monitoring daily. After some time, you will be able to see what is working and what isn’t working. When things are not improving after several weeks of consistency in your ADHD treatment plan, you may need to make some changes. Bring your doctor and the teacher in on these changes.
Create A Reward System
ADHD children need immediate gratification. One thing to include in your ADHD treatment plan is a system of rewards. This can be in the form of earning a specific book or toy. Or even better, extra time with mom, dad, or loved one playing a game or reading together. Make the reward easy to achieve at first and as behavior improves extend or expand on the expectation.
In addition to this reward system, constantly recognizing positive behavior is very rewarding to ADHD children. Most of their day they are hearing things like “Stop doing that” or, “I told you no” or “what’s wrong with you?” These negative comments c
Communicate Often With Teachers and Caregivers
Daily, weekly and monthly communication with teachers or caregivers will allow you to be on top of your child’s behavior and impulsivity. Just remember, when you are frustrated about something related to your child’s day or choices, your child is probably more frustrated. While we do need to form some sort of accountability, you also need to understand that your child may not be capable of managing their behavior. He/she definitely knows when people are disappointed in them. Stay positive and encouraging.
Accepting ADHD Is Part Of Your Family
After discovering your child does,
Educate Yourself, Family and Friends
There are plenty of ways to educate yourself, family and friends. ADDitude Magazine is one of the best resources you will ever find. There is also Understood.org. I personally listen to webinars monthly relating to my son’s current deficiencies and use even Pinterest for additional ideas to organize and strategize improvements.
Share this information with family and friends. Ask them to read. Or, explain the what and why of what you read. This will help others to see and understand the extra challenges involved and how they can support. Create a morning routine and evening routine that your whole family will follow.
Ignoring the challenges of ADHD will not make it go away or get better. Children need guidance daily to learn how to accomplish tasks on their own. I encourage you to read as much as you can about executive functions, what they are, and how we use them. This is something neurotypical people take for granted every day that ADHD children need so much help with.
When creating your ADHD treatment plan, remember that as your child grows and circumstances around the family change, the action plan will also need to change. For example, for the entire year last year and this year, I have had my son help me pick out his outfits before the school week. this allowed mornings to go much smoother. Now, he has changed a bit and wants to be able to choose different clothes than what we initially picked out. This can cause frustration when the plan goes sideways.
Allowing a change in the routine has helped. I let him know that he is able to pick out the clothes each morning as long as he chooses appropriate clothing for school and weather. If he is doing good at this task, I tell him! “Hey, you did a great job picking out your clothes! You look great!” Treatment plan adjusted, and in the end, he has developed a little more executive function.
Forming an effective treatment plan takes a lot of time. Don’t give up, and remember you’re not alone! There are so many children and families in the same circumstance as you. Reach out to others for help, support, and encouragement. Your child deserves to have you on his/her side, and you will see positive changes if you stick with it consistently.
Organize An ADHD Treatment Plan To Improve Behavior
After all is said and done, you are your child’s most effective advocate. The responsibility is huge, but it is extremely rewarding to see your child learn and grow. Take pride in the challenge and pay close attention to his/her needs. Your success will be encouraging to you as well as others!
Use a notebook, journal, or printable tracking sheet to monitor your child’s behavior. Observe what affects their energy, impulsiveness, and aggression. Once you have a good base of this information and any more you find helpful, you can create a schedule, coach them appropriately before transitions, and find healthy snacks to sustain energy levels.
You can also use this information to see where your child needs the most improvement and form a system to reward them and help them to accomplish positive outcomes and earn rewards in the process. Praising them often will definitely help this along. Remember, they need to know when they are making good choices not only bad ones.
When the time comes to have consequences make them clear and relatable and give them right away. Waiting until later in the day or week is ineffective and your child will not understand or relate it to what he/she did hours earlier when everyone else has moved on. Giving clear and consistent consequences will help you and your child to move through the process quicker.
Probably one of the most important pieces of your plan should be to see your child’s doctor and teacher to discuss what is going on. Getting a diagnosis is very important yes, however you don’t need it in order to make these changes now. Regular check-ins are crucial though as well as communicating when there are major behavioral changes. This is information that your child’s doctor and teacher will need to know about. These updates will allow them to help and support your child.
You must understand that change takes time
Our ADHD Treatment Plan And Strategy
Our ADHD treatment plan consists of some things that we have learned along the way. We didn’t form one right away, but once we knew what was needed, the plan has been very effective! Our treatment plan
- A Daily Routine (posted in the bedroom and kitchen)
- Non- See through Bins for toys (Unlabeled and unorganized)
- Daily Tasks/chores and responsibilities
- Heavy work daily or multiple times a day along with outdoor activity
- Use of Timers in multiple situations and 10 min warnings prior to transitions
- Communicating the day’s plan whenever possible ahead of time. Especially on weekends or when weekdays will be quite different.
- Medication for School days and check-in’s with the doctor as needed
- Communication with the teacher daily, weekly and monthly as needed
- Reward systems and praises for all kinds of accomplishments
- Separate To-Do lists for the morning, after school, and bedtime
- High protein and healthy diet including as much healthy fats as possible. Low sugar and sugary drinks
- Our weekly meal’s posted so there are no surprises
- Limits and timers for screen time as well as a Screens off at 7:30 rule (1 hour before bedtime)
- Essential Oils for bedtime and morning time.
As we go through the days, weeks, and months, we tackle any obstacles that come. These may mean many things like adjustments need to be made to our ADHD treatment plan, medication needs adjusted, or behavior needs to be corrected or monitored closely. We communicate with our son’s teacher to figure out what might be causing any issues at school that have come up and set a plan to get them back on track.
Medication As Part Of An ADHD Treatment Plan
I have been back and forth on the decision to use medication as part of our ADHD treatment plan. My husband and I settled on the fact that when our son is at school, there are so many distractions that we cannot control. We want him to have the most positive experience as possible. In order for us to achieve this while working full time, we decided to try some medications and have had success with little side effects. Medication has come a long way!
If you’re apprehensive about starting something just keep in mind that you have the control, and it’s OK to try it out. Experiencing it is the best way to make the decision for your child and family.
Forming the best ADHD treatment plan takes attention and time. Invest in it early and it’ll be most effective! Do you have any more ideas for managing ADHD behaviors?
You can sign up for the goal setting e-course to learn more about how I used tracking and goal setting to form our treatment plan!