5 Simple Concentration Building Techniques for Kids with ADHD

by Dr. Robert Myers, Child Psychologist
5 Simple Concentration Building Techniques for Kids with ADHD

Imagine that you are living inside of a video game, where everything is coming at you at once and every sight, sound and sensation is a distraction. For a child with ADHD, getting through a typical day is something like that—and it explains a great deal about how they experience the world. Children with ADHD typically have impairment of functions such as concentration, memory, impulse control, processing speed and an inability to follow directions. If you’re a parent of a child with ADD or ADHD, this most likely sounds all too familiar. Over the years, you’ve probably struggled through homework sessions with your child, tried (and failed) to get them to complete certain tasks like cleaning their room or finishing yard work, and on more than one occasion, you’ve probably felt completely drained by their high energy and seeming inability to focus.

“Cognitive exercises have been found to produce desired changes in not only how the brain works, but how it looks. What this means is that you have the ability to work with your child to help improve their ADHD symptoms.”

The good news is, there is something you can do to help your ADHD child improve their concentration skills. For years it was thought that each of us was born with a generous supply of brain cells, but that we were unable to produce additional cells or make changes in how they function. Fairly recently, neuroscientists discovered the presence of something called “neuroplasticity” which enables the brain to actually grow additional cells or modify the function of existing cells. Amazingly, cognitive exercises have been found to produce desired changes in not only how the brain works, but how it looks. What this means for parents is that you now have the ability to work with your child to help improve their ADHD symptoms.

Related: Parenting an AD/HD child? How to help them focus.

As a child psychologist and the father of a son with ADHD, I developed a host of exercises that help ADHD kids improve their concentration. The key is presenting them as games that are actually fun for parents and children to do together.

Here are a few simple suggestions to get you started:

1. The Coin Game: This is one of the games that we use in the Total Focus Program. Parents like it because it improves memory and sequencing as well as attention and concentration, and kids enjoy it because it’s fast-paced and fun. First, you will need a small pile of assorted coins, a cardboard sheet to cover them, and a stopwatch (or a regular watch with a second hand.) Choose five of the coins from the pile (for this example, we’ll say three pennies and two nickels) and put them into a sequence. Now, tell your child to “Look carefully at the coins arranged on the table.” Then, cover the coins with the cardboard. Start the stopwatch, and then ask them to make the same pattern using the coins from the pile. When they are finished, mark the time with the stopwatch and remove the cardboard cover. Write down the time it took them to complete the pattern and whether or not they were correct. If they didn’t complete it correctly, have them keep trying until they can do it. You can increase the difficulty of the patterns as you go, and include pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars. You’ll see your child’s concentration and sequencing improve the more they play, which is a great reward for both of you.

2. Relaxation and Positive Imagery: Combining simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing with positive visual imagery helps the brain to improve or learn new skills. For instance, research shows that if a person mentally practices their golf swing, the brain actually records the imaginary trials the same as if they were real trials which leads to improvement on the golf course. So ADHD kids can “imagine” that they’re paying attention in class or able to handle teasing, and this can in turn change their behavior at school. You and your child can use your own creativity and give this a try.

Related: How to adjust your parenting style to guide an AD/HD child effectively.

3. Mind - Body Integration: An example of this technique would be to have your child attempt to sit in a chair without moving. The parent times how long the child is able to accomplish this. Repeated practice over several weeks will show improvement. Through this activity, the neural connections between the brain and body are strengthened, providing improved self-control.

4. Crossword Puzzles and Picture Puzzles: It sounds simple, but these are great tools for kids with ADHD. Crossword puzzles actually improve attention for words and sequencing ability, while picture puzzles—in which your younger child has to look for things that are “wrong” in the picture or look for hard-to-find objects—also improve attention and concentration.

5. Memory and Concentration Games: Children’s games such as Memory or Simon are great ideas for improving memory and concentration. They are quick and fun. Memory motivates the child to remember the location of picture squares and Simon helps them memorize sequences of visual and auditory stimuli. Through repeated playing, brain circuits are “exercised” and challenged, which strengthens connections and thus improves function. Also, there are some free computer games on the internet that also improve concentration or memory such as Memory and Mosquito Killer. For older children and adolescents, check out the cognitive exercises provided by Lumosity.

As you do all of these “brain exercises,” you should work together with your child serving as his or her “coach.” Provide them with encouragement and track their progress as they improve. This is a win/win solution, because it also strengthens the relationship you have with your child.

Related: How you can work with your AD/HD child to help them focus.

Go ahead. Have some fun. Do the exercises along with your child, and who knows, you may find your brain will work a little faster and smarter, too!

These suggestions are provided as activities to supplement medical and/or psychological treatment provided under the guidance of a physician or psychologist. They will enhance the benefits of the treatment but will not on their own resolve serious symptoms for a child who has been accurately diagnosed with ADHD.

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Dr Robert Myers is a child psychologist with over 25 years of experience working with children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and learning disabilities and is the creator of the Total Focus Program www.trytotalfocus.com. Dr Myers is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UC Irvine School of Medicine. "Dr Bob" has provided practical information for parents as a radio talk show host and as editor of Child Development Institute's website, 4parenting.com which reaches 3 million parents each year. Dr. Myers earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.


sounds simple for parents to do with children I have tried a few and they really do work Keep trying, never give in

Comment By : Barbel

It's great to get ideas on things we as parents can do to encourage and help our children succeed.

Comment By : janies

The article was very well done.I would like to see more info on self esteem and the adhd child. Be very patient with your child(ren) and try to see where they are coming from.

Comment By : BEN

Maybe I'm in a different universe, but I can't imagine my highly active son willingly sitting and participating with activities like these. I'm already exhausted from trying to maintain sticker charts, find appropriate prizes and consequences and also maintain a household. I think a child would need some internal motivation to participate in activities like these, and I don't think most kids think they need to "change".

Comment By : MomCooks

My 11 year old son with ADHD refuses, even with encouragemnet, to do puzzles and play most games. I think he finds it frustrating and it is difficult for him to sit and focus on games and puzzles. He would much rather spend his spare time on his skateboard. It is very discouraging when parents try so hard to help their children and they don't want the help.

Comment By : Kirsten

These are good ideas that should be tried. You never know which activity will click into a childs brain.

Comment By : karen

What do you do about adults with ADHD. I always felt my 38 year old son had the disorder, but doctors said he did not. He always had a problem concentrating and focusing on tasks. He is and always was very impulsive and showed a lack of processing information and thoughts. Even today he has difficulty making appropriate decisions. He always had trouble following directions. Is there any help for him at this age? Could it be ADHD or just a lack of self-control or ineffective parenting?

Comment By : Barb

All of these sound exciting. Do they work for an 11 year old?

Comment By : robbie

Thank you emailing me this article. It is very informative. I often wonder what I can do to help my child. These games are worth a try. Please keep these articles coming.

Comment By : mv

I found this article interesting in the fact that my son has been "diagnosed" with ADHD by 3 seperate Dr.'s, all who have known my son for SHORT periods of time and who have decided to diagnose him with a short test of questions done both by his teachers and my husband and I. We do not see the relevance of the tests because they do not do any type of "brainwave diagnosing" to prove we are actually dealing with a medical disorder. My son does have the difficulty in following directions and also has impulse behavior issues. He is however VERY GOOD at retention and memory. Does this mean he has been incorrectly diagnosed? I am struggling with the idea of putting him on medication for ADHD, but feel as if I do nothing, I am hindering him from being all that he has the potential to be... Any suggestions?

Comment By : mother desperate for answers

* Dear Mother Desperate for Answers: Actually the doctors are following the correct procedure. The surveys in conjunction with a developmental history and an H&P to rule out other causes for the symptoms are all that is required. I would add psycho-educational testing which can be done by the school district to rule out learning disabilities. Many parents would like to have a blood test or radiological or brain wave test to help with the diagnosis. Unfortunately there are NO such tests available. In fact, there are some practitioners using some of these techniques with highly questionable results. The procedure above when performed by an experienced pediatrician, family doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist should yield a valid diagnosis.

Comment By : Dr. Bob

* To MomCooks: I agree. It can be challenging to get very active children to participate in some of these concentration building activities. In my experience, I’ve found that families sometimes have to take a step back and do a bit of a “family makeover” to get everyone on the team, so that all the attention is not focused on the child with ADHD. Sometimes kids need to be motivated before you begin with focusing exercises. I use a “pep talk” to help children understand the purpose and the worth of doing the exercises. I invite parents to serve as a coach and keep score, which shows improvement. I also recommend the use of a reward now and then to motivate a child to get started and keep going. I really believe it’s important to take a comprehensive approach to working with children with ADHD. We have to address all the aspects of the situation: the family, the child’s motivation and the child’s desire to succeed. In Total Focus, we use this comprehensive approach, along with cognitive training exercises like those listed here, and also (just as important), relaxation techniques to help children who have difficulty with staying calm. Hope this helps! And, to "Robbie," who wanted to know what age range these activities are for: The video games, especially those on Lumosity, are great for 11-year-olds as are the relaxation and visualization and crosswords. While the others may seem too juvenile for an 11-year-old, if he is willing to do them, they will work also. Good Luck!

Comment By : Dr. Bob

Interesting. These are ideas I have not read in all of my ADD/ADHD books. I'm willing to give them a try!!

Comment By : Mombomb

I am willing to give ANYTHING a shot, thanks for the ideas.

Comment By : momofadders

I'm not sure my 9 year old son has add/adhd or odd. He most generally is kind-hearted,loving and reasonable. Don't get me wrong we argue and fight (mostly about homework). This wasn't always the case; there was a time I didn't want to be around him. He was defiant, mean, hateful, violent, fidgety etc. (almost like he was on drugs) Then one day he had been good all day so I let him get a Kool-aid at the food-mart. Holy cow! within ten minutes he was out of control. This "behavior" lasted until he went to bed(which was earlier than normal). I realized that most of the time he acted like that was after he got a treat. Look at the ingredients of the things you treat your kids. Artificial food dye. I removed all food dye from his diet. Not an easy thing to do. He is much better, he even reads ingredient lists now. He is treated better by his teachers his friends and ME! Some children are more sensitive to food dyes than others but the effects last longer than a sugar rush (about 8-10 hours). We still have some behavior issues to work out and I am looking forward to starting The Total Transformation Program. I want my child to have the ability to function in the cold cruel world we live in and I think it starts with having parents that can admit they need help giving them the tools they need.

Comment By : jhs

Dear jhs: Thanks for your comment and welcome to the Empowering Parents community! Just in case you haven't seen it yet, I wanted to direct your attention to a recent blog post we did on kids who exhibit out of control behavior after eating foods with artificial food dye and refined sugar. Here's the link to the post, "Boo! When the Sugar Monster Rears His Ugly Head: Is there a link between sugar, additives and bad behavior?" Hope you find this helpful!

Comment By : Elisabeth

my child is 6yrs old and the school and myslef think she may have adhd. She very smart for her age (I.Q test 138)and can sit for somethings and not others, could it just be her being a kid and having a lot of engery and no be adhd.

Comment By : clgbklyn

My 15 year old was just diagnosed ADHD/inattentive, sensory integration dysfunction & anxiety disorder. We have "homework wars" all the time. He also wants to be independent and tells me to "leave him alone" and that I am making it harder for him to do homework/study. It is very frustrating as I do not want him to fail in school. He takes 2 costco fish oil pills everyday. It does not seem to help. He is happy with Cs & Ds, but I know he is capable of As & Bs. He is not motivated to do well. Help!

Comment By : Debbie

I have been fighting the school system over my son since he started in Kindergarten. His teachers demanded he be put on Ritilin (after only one week!!!), and I refused. I have experienced horrific results myself following "doctor's orders" on medication, and I don't want him on a medication that is in the same classification as cocaine. How could that possibly help? Thank you for some ideas, I'm willing to try anything holistic. These exercises appear sound.

Comment By : keywestphoenix

My daughter has not been diagnosed with anything but that she is dreamy in class, gets bored half way through a task ans her attention is distracted by things or dreams in class. The teacher told me to see the pediatritian or the occupational therapist. I am not sure who to go to, please advise me on which prosedure I should follow? Also I feel a heavy no no when hearing about medications- at what stage does medicine become necessary and untill what point does consentration excercises help? My daughter is nor hyper-active but does get distracted and I know she is a real dreamer. How do we help our children who actually still need to play at this age in this confusing world where they are pressurised more and more every year? What are the natural foods that help childrens brain development? I know fish oil tablets, AHA, CLA, Omega 3, Oxygen tablets. My daughter was born 5 and a half weeks prem to what extent did this set her back? Thanks for the help

Comment By : Levina

Dear Lavina, I would recommend that you take your daughter to your pediatrician and discuss your concerns about the daydreaming in class with him or her. While we give parenting advice on Empowering Parents, we are not doctors and are not qualified to answer specific medical questions such as the ones you are asking. In the meantime, you may also find this article helpful as it focuses on girls with ADD and discusses their behaviors, daydreaming being one of them. Good luck to you and please keep in touch!

Comment By : ridgeback522

To the parents who are certain that their child will not sit still for the games described in the article, I highly recommend that you try the Lumosity site that the article mentions. My son was more willing to do the games b/c they were so similar to video games. I had read research that supported similar games in increasing executive functions in adhd kids, and so I had my son try them over the summer. I DID have to insist that he do them, but despite his griping, he actually got pumped when he saw his scores increase. I'm sure this sounds like an ad, lol! I swear it isn't. There are other game sites out there that provide similar brain exercise. Look for memory games, games that require two and three step planning, games that require not just a quick response, but that also require accuracy in order to move forward.

Comment By : bobbleheadmom

I'm not sure if my son has ADHD, He's almost 8 years old now. he's so smart & aces in most school subjects, he would stay focused IF he likes what he's doing & WHO he is doing it with! yet he gives the impression that he's not paying attention at all! I still remember a comment one of his kindergarten teachers told me, that she didn't want to talk infront of him coz she knows he IS paying attention unlike what he seems. I st he's fidgety, active, daydreams, resists changes, & almost panics if there's even a slight change in his life routine. slight as in everything even trying new food! He's been the top of his class & everything seemed to be ok until we've recently moved & he changed his school & it's all out again!The teachers are not happy with his behaviour & we're so depressed that he is giving him this bad impression. I want to know how could I help him & wether or not he is an ADHD. Also, are there any vitamins that would help kids concentrate without the side effects of other meds? Thanks for the great article & the support.

Comment By : Distressed mom

distressed mom asked about if there is any vitamins that could help ADHD kids. Buried Treasure's Added Attention is really worth the money! Worked well on both me (inattentive ADD) and my son who is high functioning ADHD. Highly recommended by me, just mix it in 8oz of water in the morning and he takes it willingly. This may sound like an ad but it really worked for me.

Comment By : mayflower

My 7 year old son likes to play the card game WAR. He caught on very quickly which card is higher than the other to win the hand. I can add a challenge like adding the cards or subtracting to get some extra math into the game. He asks to play all the time :-)

Comment By : KB&L

My 7 year old son is very bright and enjoys games like this and does very well. I took him to a child psychiatrist for early intervention because he had behavioral problems when he was very young. He had delayed speech so we had to take him for speech therapy. This psychiatrist had to stop seeing him before he started grade one. She diagnosed him with a developmental delay and not ADHD. When he was in grade 1, he went to a program with kids with behavioral concerns. Now he is in grade 2 and the staff at this program are telling us that he has ADHD and to medicate him. I think if this psychiatrist had seen any signs, she would have recommended medication 2 years ago when his behavior and reception was much worse than it is today. Unfortunately we can't see her again to see what she thinks. I am very happy I read this page and am looking forward to trying these tips. My son is already a fast learner if he sits and learns. Can you suggest any games for impulsive behavior?

Comment By : Confused Mom

I like the article. I am going to try these games with my daughter. Although I don't know if she has a AHDH problem, I would like an opinion regarding her lack of concentratation in class. She is dreamy in class too, she doesn't like to do homework. Still, her teacher has told me that she doesn't think she has any AHDH or other medical problem. Thank you for your help.

Comment By : Annie

My boy is 8yrs old his is an ADHD child, it was not very easy at the beginning with him, because we were not aware what was ADHD, fortunately through internet we had made some research and now we can help him, he follow a strict diet, but we have still a lot to do specially for his concentration at school and at home for his homework, I will surely try these game.

Comment By : josick

These sound like terrific ideas! I particularly love what I learned about the imagery capacity! It's very insightful and I can see how that can be very helpful in making real positive changes! I often find, though, that I can help my kid focus when I am prepared with lots of ideas of how to help him. Whether its offering him a sensory stimulus or scheduling his time with sufficient variations in types of learning activities. Patience and persistence is certainly key, which is why finding support like this article is so important!

Comment By : Janie, helpmykidfocus

I am so thankful for ideas like these! My daughter just turned 5 and I think that starting early with activities like these will make future activities easier for her to "want" to do once she gets older! I will try anything positive and natural to help her!

Comment By : TriMom

Thanks for the tips ! great internet site ! will certainly visit again!

Comment By : vero

These sound like good suggestions. If a child is 12 and never had any of these exercises, will they still work?

Comment By : poopsie

* Dear "Poopsie": Thank you for your question. I am happy to say the answer is yes. In fact, these exercises or similar ones can help adults as well. If the child you are concerned about likes the idea, have him or her try a few. I would also strongly recommend trying out Lumosity.com as well. This site provides fun games developed by expert video game designers employing cognitive exercises developed by a top team of neuroscientists. The programs are used by children and adults.

Comment By : Dr. Bob Myers

how can u stop a a,d,h,d from wettin the bed as well has poppin his self in bed... my boy friends son has gottin so out of control ,no matter what he does his son doesnt listin as well as he goes back & does the same thing.......what kind of help can he get an were...

Comment By : ladyjfone@aol.com

* Dear ‘ladyjfone@aol.com’: The best person to work with is the child’s pediatrician. The pediatrician will be able to tell you what to expect for each developmental age, if there is an underlying medical condition, and whether or not the family needs to work with a professional counselor. We appreciate your question and invite you to keep in touch.

Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor

My son is 13 yrs old he is not at all listening to me, teachers r also complaining about him not finishing his assignment on time started getting bad marks in exams. pls help me how i can make him to concentrate towards his work.

Comment By : nana

* Dear nana: Some children do quite well in school up until they reach middle school and then begin to have trouble keeping up with work. This is most likely the result of a bright child with an undetected learning disorder and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (By the way they may have ADHD and not be "hyper".) Kids like these have been able to compensate for these underlying conditions due to their above-average ability but as the work gets harder they begin to have problems. There are other psychological and medical disorders that can cause difficulty in concentration and task completion and then there is "lack to motivation". I suggest you talk to your son and his teacher(s) to determine the severity of his problem compared to others his age. If you think he has a significant problem, you should consult with his physician to rule out any medical conditions. If he is fine medically, he should be assessed by a school psychologist or clinical child psychologist to rule out ADHD or a learning disorder.

Comment By : Dr. Bob

I am so glad I came across this article whilst looking for some things to help my step son with his agression, cognigative behavioral therapy is a relativly new concept here in Australia but I understand it's benefits are positive. Thank you once again for this article. Dianne

Comment By : Dianne Rudd

My son is 10 years old. The school has told us he has ADD specifically in concentration and socialising. He is a lovely happy boy who had until recently beed very active although he seems to have mellowed considerably. He plays with one or two children at a time but lacks concentration in team games and also in the classroom. The teacher has said he is very very bright but needs to apply himself. The concentration games are great but as I have a concentration issue too I find it hard to stick to a good schedule with him. I would like to get this right for him but need some advice to help me to stick to the routines too. Thank you x

Comment By : Julie

* Julie: By recognizing an area you and your son share some difficulty in, you have a great opportunity to role model for him. Start by figuring out where these concentration games would best fit into your day. Be very selective—you don’t want to choose a time that is usually chaotic in your home. Once you have set a time, set up some reminders for yourself. In his article about consistent parenting, James Lehman suggests that you say your plan aloud to yourself every morning. You might also put sticky notes in the area you are normally in at the time you have set aside for concentration games. Or, set an alarm on your cell phone to go off at the same time every day. You could even establish a whole schedule and put alarms in your phone for each step of the schedule. If you know other people who have trouble sticking to routines, find out what works for them. Good luck as you continue to work through this.

Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

I use Suduko for my 8 yr old. We have a magnet travel set with a 5x5 grid and increasing degrees of difficulty made by ThinkFirst (I believe). It's wonderful! Actually all of this company's "games" are great from kids who don't have the patience to use paper and pencil. Many are spatial reasoning or detective type games that require critical thinking and included Beginner to Expert levels. Once my son got better at a level, we encouraged him to try the levels faster, using his own watch as the timer. It was amazing how much better his retention and reasoning skills got.

Comment By : Playdeebug

Good techniques for kids...

Comment By : shankar

good techniques for for parents as well to give their kids quality time with them and rapport..

Comment By : Avishkar Gangurde

I'm very amazed at how many people have the exact same issues as I have with my 11 year old son. For a long time I really thought that I was alone in the world. Since kindergarten, he has had difficulty staying on task or just completing something as simple as coloring a picture. He was diagnosed with ADHD and placed on meds which he would constantly have changed because it wasn't helping him or he would have some kind of reaction/effect. Three years ago I finally had enough of the meds and decided the school is just going to have to learn to deal with him as he is. The reports I would get is that he is very intellegent. His IQ score was 135 but his processing speed was extremely low. He is also extremely logical. He analyzes things and comes to logical conclusions about all sorts of different things. It literally amazes me. I was also told by several of his teachers that he wasn't hyper at all so I informed his doctor who told me that he was ADD not the ADHD that most boys are diagnosed with. It didn't matter as far as the meds were concerned. They are prescribed for both. My son is now in the 6th grade and I was hoping that he would eventually realize he had to discipline himself to stay focused. It has not happened yet. We have tried several ways to try and help. We modified his work, gave him extra time, even had his teachers read his tests to him and allow him to answer using multiple choice. He usually gets everything correct, its just getting him to DO it is the problem. I'm so frustrated I sit and cry because I can't help him. No amount of holding him back a grade will change him being able to do his work. So what do I do? He seems like he isn't listening to the teachers but when it comes to answering them, he gets everything correct. I am lost. I need help. What else can I possibly do to help him stay focused on his school work. Homework literally takes us 4-5 hours each night that would normaly take a child 30 minutes to an hour to complete. His teacher is begging me to come up with a plan. I no longer know what to do. We have even used timers to try and keep him on track. Please someone, anyone! HELP! :(

Comment By : kea_2011

* To ‘kea_2011’: Helplessness is one of the most difficult emotions a parent can experience. The hard truth is that even if your son does realize that he needs to stay focused, he just doesn’t have the skills to do it. You’ve seen time and time again that he struggles in this area. You have tried a lot of different things to help your son, all of which have led to little to no progress. Dr. Robert Myers, creator of the Total Focus program, stresses the importance of cognitive-behavioral intervention and “brain training” with ADD/ADHD kids to help them learn the skills they need to be more successful in the areas where they struggle. The exercises here in Dr. Myer’s article are a step in the right direction, but your son might benefit from some additional support in your home or community, whether this means checking in with his pediatrician or a psychologist, or trying the Total Focus at home to learn some more skills to help your son by yourself. I am including an article by Dr. Myers that talks about his beliefs about the best ways to help a child with ADD/ADHD become more successful in school: ADHD: Disorder or Difference? We wish you and your son luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.

Comment By : Sara Bean. M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

This article seems very interesting to me and I plan on trying these methods because it is very dificul for me as an ADD parent to teach my ADHD daughter things

Comment By : Rosie

I am the mother of an extremely bright 9 year old boy. He was diagnosed when he was 7 years old. He was on medication which helped him alot but has sense become sick when taking any type of medication that helps. I recently stopped giving it to him since it was affecting his mood and making him sick. He has since been doing terrible in school. He has gotten kicked out of class on numerous occasions, constantly getting out of his seat, distracting others, etc. I am trying different methods to help him with his impulsiveness but nothing seems to be working. I look forward to trying some of your methods to see if they will help any. Thanks

Comment By : lostmom_2011

I am struggling with the school system, we moved to my area over the summer, my daughter is 15 and has ADHD/ODD. I had our 504 meeting and the prinicpal told me that her ODD isn't a disability it's an excuse for her behaviour and so the teachers in the meeting followed suite that it wasn't reason for her to act the way that she does. HELP, I am shattered and do not know how to respond or what I should do.

Comment By : swstuple

* To ‘swstuple’: It sounds like you are pretty frustrated with your daughter and feeling uncertain that her needs are going to be met at her new school it is very important to be your child’s advocate in her new school to make sure that her learning needs are being addressed. That being said, James Lehman believed that kids act out because of a lack of effective problem solving skills. He states that kids with ADHD, ODD, and other diagnoses are in even greater need of learning new skills to solve their problems. He stresses that while ODD may be the reason for acting out behavior it is not an excuse, and that kids with ODD still need to be held accountable in order to avoid learned helplessness. Learned helplessness happens when we allow a diagnosis to become an excuse for acting out. In other words, when parents say, “Oh he had ODD, he couldn’t help it,” the child internalizes this message and the cycle of acting out is continued. Instead, it’s important to work with any acting out child, ODD or not, on better ways to handle tough situations. I am including a couple articles in which James explains in more detail. I think these articles will be very helpful for you and give you an idea of where to go from here. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.
We Got a Diagnosis for Our Child—Now What? ADHD, ODD, LDs and More—What a Diagnosis Means for Your Child
Are You a Mother or a Martyr? How Much is Too Much When “Doing” for Your Child?

Comment By : Sara Bean. M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

"I have 5 kids with ADHD but my 9 year old has ADHD Combined type,ODD,Autism,Visual Processing Disorder,Bipolar Disorder,TTD,RAD,OCD,and Asperger's sometimes she gets out of hands but this site has helped"

Comment By : akie autumn98

I am so glad I stumbled across this article after reading the information about what could help, the concerns, frustrations and desires to get help for our little angels. I want to thank all of you. God bless you and your families.

Comment By : Laverne

I wonder if Time Management games are good for ADHD??

Comment By : Rescki

* To 'Rescki': Time management can be a difficult skill for many kids, especially those with ADHD, because kids with ADHD have poor concentration and impulse control. If you find that your child is lacking in time management skills, finding games or exercises to help him or her could be beneficial. Something else you might try is an incentive system, where if your child completes a task in a certain achievable amount of time, s/he can earn some kind of small reward. For more information on incentives for better behavior, I am including a link to an article on behavior charts: Child Behavior Charts: How to Use Behavior Charts Effectively.

Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor

Do games like basketball and karate help adhd children, please advice.

Comment By : Aleem

* Hi Aleem. In Dr. Robert Myers’ article on ADHD in young children he does say that it’s helpful to focus on and encourage the strengths and interests of a child with ADHD. If you have a child with ADHD who is really interested in basketball or karate, it could be a good idea to let him try it. Dr. Myers also states that activities that involve motor skills practice can be helpful as well.

Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

my son is 10 and has been diagnosed with ADHD few years ago. we were in a denial but have come to realize he def is struggling with it. my husband and i still refuse to put him on meds since its not that severe. but i heard it does get worse in teenage years....is it true? what can i do in order to prevent it getting worst and help him in the future. he wants to become a doctor but dont know if that would be possible with his given condition. he cannot read and focus and has problems comprehending. but i do not give up and believe that if i continue requesting him to read on daily basis, eventually he will get better...but I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT I AM DOING IS RIGHT AND HOPEFULLY WILL HELP HIM IN HIS FUTURE............... and oh one more thing...he is definately a teaser.. he TEASES EVERYONE....and they get so annoyed that they dont want to be his friend.....i do make him realize it and he does at that time but do not know what happens to him and he starts teasing again.....PlS help!!!

Comment By : sarah05

My 9 yr son has the same as above... Our biggest concern is he can sit For hours and play games on phone or computer? He is not active, can't organize his room, won't sit in class, I can't say he's so intelligent (no test scores come back the same), but every year I get the call- what motivates your son? I don't know! ( GAMES ) he can finish and win all the games. I put him on learning games and he's not interested. I will try these fun games we do together. I just don't understand why he can't focus in class but can on games? I have done the 5 hour homework sessions, I've taken away EVERYTHING! He doesn't care! I do reward with money, if he cleans his room, gets good grades... Nothing works. He doesn't care! Will he care? Don't get me wrong, he cares about stuff, he really cares about his friends and family... He's loving, kind, funny, he seems smart and witty. He just hates school...could it be just that?

Comment By : Roe

* To “Roe”: You ask a great question. There are some kids who simply don’t like school and, for that reason, either refuse to go or act out when they get there. Unfortunately, not liking school doesn’t change the fact that most kids still need to go to school and behave appropriately while they are there. As James Lehman points out in his article Motivating Underachievers Part I: When Your Child Says "I Don't Care,” it’s impossible not to be motivated by something. From what you have written, it sounds like your son is very motivated by the games he plays. We would suggest using those games as a way to motivate your son to behave appropriately and complete the tasks you expect him to do. It’s probably going to be most effective to focus on one thing at a time, such as school or tasks at home. Once you have decided which of those you would like to focus on, you would then have your son earn time playing the games he likes by following through with that expectation. For example, if you were to pick school, your son would earn time playing the games he likes by attending school and following the school expectations. We would suggest having the games be a daily privilege he can earn based on whether or not he meets expectations. If he doesn’t earn the games on one day, he would have the opportunity to earn them the next if he turns his behavior around and meets expectations. You may also be interested in the second part of James’ article on motivation: Motivating Underachievers II: Get Your Unmotivated Child on Track before School Starts. We hope this information is useful for your situation. Take care.

Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor

Dr. Meyers, this article has great ideas and is very readable. I've been using similar activities for several years with children who are developmentally delayed.

Comment By : Nikki Schwartz

I think I have been in denial for awhile about my daughter having ADHD. I didn't want her to think something was wrong with her but leaving her in the dark has only made it harder for her to manage it. I feel sad because all too often I have found myself yelling at her to focus " why can't you just get it done already, it's easy, you read it 5 times you should know it by now. I feel so ashamed. I am going to try these games you posted and who knows there may be hope after all.

Comment By : JENREAL

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