Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Preschool Children with ADHD: How to Manage their Behavior

If you have a toddler or a preschool child, you know about the difficulty of managing his/her behavior. What behaviors have you observed? Preschool children can be stubborn and rigid at some point and funny and flexible the next moment. They can also be unfocused one moment and not responding when you give them an instruction and the next moment, be hyperfocused on building a tower.

When we add ADHD to the picture of a toddler, or to a preschool child at risk of ADHD, things spiral out of control exponentially. Do you find yourself bribing your child one minute and yelling the next moment? Sometimes, arguably, do you have difficulty managing your own emotions and behavior?

Here are a few suggestions to be found in my upcoming book on preschool children with ADHD:

1.      Keep your home routine structured and organized so that your preschool child with ADHD or at risk for ADHD knows what to expect at all times. He/she may not know how to tell time, but they certainly know that after they play outside they wash their hands and have dinner. They certainly know that when you are cleaning up the dishes they go to their reading corner to look at books. Now if you have two toddlers, that is indeed another issue but no matter how many children you have a structured routine always works best.

2.      Another suggestion is to give preschool children with ADHD or preschool children at risk for ADHD single, simple instructions. Preschool children with ADHD or at risk for ADHD can be easily overwhelmed by several instructions. The instructions such as go wash your hands, brush your teeth and get a book for me to read to you somehow get lost along the way. Always give one single, simple instruction at a time. Go to wash your hands. When you see that they have accomplished that task, praise and give the next instruction. Okay now brush your teeth. Praise and then give the last instruction. Good job. Now find a book that you would like me to read to you. Trust me, they will feel much more successful at listening to your instructions and you will feel much les frustrated because you do not have to tell them what to do more than once.

3.      One of the most important things that you can do is the phrase catch them being good. I certainly did not make up that phrase, but I find myself trying to do so each and every time that I am with       a preschool child with ADHD or at risk of ADHD. When you see these children exhibiting a positive behavior, praise them for behaving in that way. They will develop pride and positive self-esteem in the fact that they pleased you and exhibited the appropriate behavior.

4.      Along the same philosophy but expanding it a bit, try to ignore the child’s negative behaviors and positively reinforce the child’s positive behavior. When we pay attention to the negative behaviors we oftentimes find those behaviors increasing. Please do not think that ignoring the negative behaviors is an easy thing to do. It is a difficult thing to do. However, somehow you want to get your child to ascertain that specific behaviors please you and are appropriate. If you continue to accentuate your child’s positive behaviors amidst all of his/her negative behaviors, your child will learn to exhibit appropriate behavior.

5.      Make sure that your child goes to bed early enough to get the proper amount of sleep. Fatigue only increases meltdowns. Seemingly, it may be an easy problem to avoid.

6.      Model positive behavior. Many parents do not know that their child observes and imitates their behavior as well as picks up on their emotional state. If something happens and a parent becomes frustrated or angry, the child may often model that behavior. Leaning to control your own behavior is also not easy to do but absolutely necessary when you are around your toddler with ADHD. Have you noticed that when you get angry your preschool child arguably becomes angry?  Have you noticed that when you yell your toddler arguably yells?

Try very hard to be aware of the times in the day when you become anxious and pressured and monitor your behavior. What could you do if you find yourself unable to modulate your behavior? If there is someone else in your house with you, walk out of the room. If you are with your children alone, find some music that you like on your phone or on your computer and play it until you calm down. Deep breathing works as well.

So much more to come!!!Be on the lookout!

Friday, January 29, 2016

How Do You Respond to your Child with ADHD’s Behavior?

There are many comments that have been written about how to manage children with ADHD. However, parents need to know how to respond appropriately to their children’s unfocused and/or hyperactive behavior as well.

The only way to respond to a child with ADHD’s “annoying” behavior (as parents have expressed to me) is to respond and NOT to react.  I spend a lot of time talking to parents and explain to them that they must think ahead of time about how they think their child will behave in the future. Why? If they are prepared for their child to behave in a specific way they can then plan how they will respond to their child’s behavior.

It is imperative to deal with your child’s behavior in an intentional and predictive way instead of just reacting to their behavior. When a parent reacts to their child’s behavior, their behavior, therefore, may be as uncontrolled as their child’s behavior.

You should have a prescribed set of responses that you can call upon at all times. For example, think about how you would want to respond before your child with ADHD does the following:

§  Your child hits you
§  Your child pushes his younger sibling down
§  Your child runs away from you when you get out of your car in the driveway into the street
§  Your child runs continuously in your house sliding on the floor
§  Your child whines in the grocery store
§  Your child throws his/her toys on the floor and laughs

Thoughts?  Social Skills Training Services

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What is the effect of permitting your child to use social media? Is it possible that when your child uses social media it interferes with their learning of social skills and/or doing their homework in an efficacious way?

Social media has changed communication in positive ways. However, as positive as the benefits are, there are some negative components, as well. How many of you walk the streets of the city in which you live? Have you noticed that instead of walking looking forward so that you are able to nod or to say hello to passers-by, almost everyone has their head down looking at some device? Why is that bad? Communication between individuals is based on eye contact. If people do not maintain eye contact, they therefore, cannot communicate. I am always amazed that people who walk with their heads down do not trip and fall more often!

Why are people arguably unable to put their cell phones down for a few minutes to walk looking ahead of them, nodding their head to approaching individuals or saying hello? There appears to be a sense of immediacy and almost desperation about finding out what someone has written to them on Twitter, Facebook, email or text. Unfortunately, due to the lure of social media, and the gravitational pull that it has on people, they are unlikely to want to delay gratification. In fact, that is why people text message as they are driving, which has caused many, many accidents across the United States.

How does being so dependent and arguably addicted to social media negatively affect your child? One mother told me that it takes her son twice the time to do his math homework, while making many errors. Why does that happen?  He checks YouTube while he is doing his homework!

I went to a restaurant recently and a family sat next to us who had a four year old child with them. The child watched a movie on their I Pad the entire meal, barely eating and certainly not interacting with anyone at their table. I have no argument with parents wanting a little peace and quiet while they eat. However, couldn’t they have made a judgment on their child’s misbehavior as it was happening, instead of avoiding any social interaction with their child?

So, in answer to my own question, “What is the effect of permitting your child to use social media in public?”, I would say that if you have a child who is young and needs to learn social skills by interacting with you and/or if you have an older child who’s use of social media is interfering with his homework and/or interacting with you, it is essential to change when you permit your child to use social media and for how long.

More tomorrow…



Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Should you Negotiate with your Child who has ADHD?

Let me give you an example:

You are walking your dog with your child with ADHD. As you are walking, you stop from time to time to chat with your neighbors. As you are conversing, your child swings from a branch on your next door neighbor’s property. You are ready to begin walking home, and you say to your child “Okay, let’s go. We need to get home.” He says, “Can I swing a little more?” You say “Yes” but then you also say, “We really have to leave in a minute.” The next time you tell your child that both of you have to leave, he refuses.

You should never negotiate with your child with ADHD because you will end up battling with a child who is trying to manipulate you.  You cannot get your child to move off of that branch. What could you have done?

You will not get the results that you want from your child with ADHD unless you give them a choice. What you could have said, depending on how close you were to your home, the age of your child and his related independence was to say, “You can either come with me right now or come back by yourself in five minutes.” (This strategy depends, however, upon whether your child has a watch with an alarm that can be set or if he can tell time.)

You could also have said “We can leave now or in five minutes.” Have the child make a choice as to when he wants to leave within your parameters. If he says five minutes, then time him and in five minutes say, “Okay, the five minutes is up. Let’s go.”

This strategy typically works. The most important thing is to give your child a choice according to your own parameters of when you need something done. Please let me know if you tried this technique, if it worked and the degree to which it worked.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How should you Talk to Young Children with ADHD about the Bombings in Boston?

Young children with ADHD in most cases will not understand the nuances and the ramifications of the bombings in Boston. However, they will feel a sense of anxiety and fear based upon what they have heard from others, as well as what they have viewed on television.  What might we do to calm these children’s fears and anxieties?

The first thing to do is to sit down and listen to what the children are saying about the bombing. What do they think happened? What do they know that are facts? What do they know that are rumors? Answer their questions while reassuring them. You will be able to generalize some but not all of the details of the Boston bombings, depending on the age and maturity of the child with ADHD. Remember, do not only make general statements. Upon discussing the details, however, do not talk about any specifics that might make them more fearful and anxious. However, tell these children the truth so that what you are telling them is valid.

The second thing you want to tell young children with ADHD is that you were afraid as well. In that way, you will be able to validate the fact that other people were fearful in addition to them. In fact, they will see that it was acceptable to be fearful. Go over and over the fact that the bombing suspect is in custody and since what he did was illegal, the authorities will keep him in jail. You should also explain to these young children with ADHD that events of this type, i.e., bombings of cities in the United States, are very, very rare.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How do you Talk to your Child with ADHD about the Bombing in Boston?

It is vital to talk to your child with ADHD who is either of elementary school age or an adolescent as soon as possible about the bombing and terror in Boston. (I will address how to talk to younger children about the bombing of Boston tomorrow.)

Parents oftentimes think that they should wait until their child asks questions about sad or horrific events. That is not a good idea. Why? One never knows what the child with ADHD is thinking, and what are his anxieties and misperceptions.

Here are a list of steps to which you may adhere or modify in your discussions of the bombing of Boston with your child with ADHD:

1.     Ask your child what he thinks happened.

2.     Confirm and/or modify his perception of the events that occurred.

3.     If he is anxious about a similar horrific event happening to him.

a.      Ask him to delineate each and every fear/anxiety that he feels

b.     Systematically discuss each and every one of his fears

4.     Explain to him the low probability of that dreadful event happening where he lives. Also, explain to him that the adults with whom he interacts will make sure that he is safe.  

5.     Tell the child with ADHD the positive stories of those individuals who ran into danger protecting and helped the injured.

6.     Discuss what his family could and would do to help if they were in a similar situation, reiterating again, however, the rarity of this type of event happening to him.

7.     Talk about what positive steps he could take to help people to whom these events happened.

a.     He and his friends could raise money for a charity that is helping victims of the Boston bombing, such as or the Red Cross. Unfortunately, in 2013, we have to be aware of charities that are scams. Please talk to your child about this before he or his friends send any contributions.

b.     Those children can write and send condolence letter to the Red Cross who will send the letters to the family members who were injured in the Boston bombing.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Are you Trying to Decide if a Child with ADHD you know has Social Skills Problems?

Perhaps some examples of social skills deficits/problems might be helpful. Read and see if the child in question in your classroom or home exhibits any of these behaviors.

Among some examples of social skills deficits are the following, accompanied by the specific behaviors characterizing these deficits below, so please keep reading:


Deficits in social perception and social cognition that inhibit students’ abilities to interact with others

Lack of consequential thinking

Difficulty expressing feelings

Difficulty in feeling empathy for others

Difficulty delaying gratification (impulsive)

Inappropriate grooming and hygiene

Failure to understand and fulfill the role of listener

Inability to take the perspective of another

Less time spent looking and smiling at a conversational partner

Unwilling to act in a social situation to influence the outcome

Less likely to request clarification when given ambiguous or incomplete information

Tendency to talk more or less

More likely to approach teacher and ask inappropriate questions

Less proficient in interpersonal problem solving. (Vaughn, Bos, & Schumm, 2007, p. 255)

Before you check to see if the children in question have social skills deficits, let me give you some specific behaviors that may occur if a child has these deficits:


Difficulties in social perception: A child walks up to two children who are disagreeing and asks “Can I play?” Even though the child clearly sees the ongoing argument between the two children, he seemingly is unaware that they may be so involved with disagreeing that they may not consider including him at that moment. Additionally, they may become annoyed with him if he intercedes.


Lack of consequential thinking: A child walks up to another and pulls the chair out from under him. The child who pulled the chair out does not realize that the child who was sitting on the chair will fall down on the floor, possibly hurting himself.


Difficulty expressing feelings: A child pushes another one down and cannot say he was sorry.


Difficulty delaying gratification: A child walks up to another who is using a shovel at a sand table. Instead of asking to use the shovel, he grabs it and knocks the child down. The child did not have the patience to wait until the other child finished with the shovel. Instead, he acted on impulse.


Inappropriate grooming and hygiene: A child arrives at school with dirty hands wearing the same soiled clothes he wore the day before. He may not pay attention to how others view his physical appearance.


Failure to understand and fulfill the role of listener: In conversations

with peers or adults, the child talks incessantly and continuously interrupts. He does not understand that when one person talks the other person listens.

Inability to take the perspective of another: One child is upset because the other children did not permit him to play. The child with ADHD does not understand why that child is upset.

Less time spent looking and smiling at a conversational partner: As a child is playing with another, the child with ADHD does not look or smile frequently at the other.

Unwilling to act in a social situation to influence the outcome:

A child is playing by himself on the playground while watching the others play together. He is unwilling to go over to those children to ask them to play.


Less likely to request clarification when given ambiguous or incomplete information: A teacher hands out permission slips and tells the children to return them to school signed by their parents. She does not tell the children when they

have to return it. The child with social skills deficits does not ask the teacher when to return the permission slip and, typically, forgets to hand it in to the teacher.


Tendency to talk more or less: A child either talks too little or excessively to peers and adults.


More likely to approach teacher and ask inappropriate questions: A teacher gives instructions on speaking out in class. She instructs the children to raise their hands when they have something important to ask her or to tell to the class.

The child with ADHD raises his hand and asks “Can we stand up in our seats and shout out our questions?”


Less proficient in interpersonal problem solving: A child feels rejected by another child. He has not actually been rejected but does not understand how to go about trying to be friends. (Vaughn et al., 2007, p. 255)