Behavior Reward Systems Helps with ADHD
Article by Linda Sorkin, L.M.F.T, with Soul Empowered Coaching
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD) is a well known diagnosis given to kids, and even adults, who exhibit symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity. It is also disputed by many professionals as an over diagnosed condition. Independent of the controversies, raising children who are high energy, easily distracted and impulsive on instinct, whether or not labeled ADHD, is challenging for almost any parent. For purposes of this article, when the term ADHD is used, I am referring to BOTH kids with the medical diagnosis and those hyper energetic kids who have not been diagnosed by a qualified doctor. The following, according the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) are examples of such common challenging behaviors parents may experience with ADHD.
- Fidgeting, difficulty sitting still or constantly on the go
- Easily distracted, misses details, forgets things, difficulty with concentration
- Difficulty listening, following directions or waiting their turn
- Disobedient or even defiant behavior
- Disorganized at home and/or school
- Socially isolated
- Excessive talking
- Gets bored, daydreams, easily confused
- Difficulty in school and/or low grades
- Sensitive or feeling blamed by family and teachers for everything?
Raising an ADHD child takes patience, practice and loads of love!
Kids with ADHD need to know what is expected of them upfront. Having a clear, direct and consistent way to set limits with your child is of utmost importance when dealing with ADHD. Based on research and personal experience, ADHD children do well when they are having fun, engaged in activity and attached to an outcome. There seems to be profound opportunity for parents of ADHD to create home environments that make learning, responsibility and boundaries a game that has obvious payoff. The Kid Pointz points and rewards program, combined with their behavior charts and other parenting tools, is an effective support system to help parents follow through on parenting while the child's energy is channeled and managed through identifying, understanding and reinforcing their own positive behaviors - whereby the child is self-empowered to do most of the work! If done properly, a co-created point system can take a huge load off the parent's plate! The automated program helps motivate, engage and track daily choices, rewarding responsibility and helping correct misbehavior (or no behavior) without parents resorting to outward expression of esteem chipping frustration, yelling or disappointment. It sure seems all this applies even more so to the those with ADHD. More energy to tap, channel and benefit from!! 6 tips I recommend to my friends who are using the Kid Pointz System with their ADHD children (which mostly applies to any parent with any kid).
- Refrain from criticizing your child and their behavior. Instead focus your comments on the good choices they make.
- Be specific and very clear when choosing the rules you set up for your child. Let your expectations for their behavior be explicitly known. Set and keep boundaries with them consistently.
- Create a specific behavior modification plan with Kid Pointz to support in changing your child's problematic behaviors. The Kid Pointz behavior charts are an effective way to engage your child and hold them accountable. The KP charts also reward the child in a positive way which can take the focus off their negative behavior.
- Use the Kid Pointz program to encourage healthy social peer and family interaction.
- Support your child with developing better organizational skills. With Kid Pointz, you can easily set up rules for getting a backpack together, gathering homework and assignments, maintaing a schedule, and limiting clutter in their room, etc.
- Keep your child's daily KP routine consistent. This will limit unexpected surprises which could set them off. Teaching them how to manage their behavior and emotions is vital.
Although I have much experience and knowledge regarding ADHD and several behavioral conditions, I offer these tips to provide awareness into various solutions in dealing with challenging behaviors. Sharing different ideas with parents can aid in normalizing what they experience and provide relief to an often stressed out home environment. When any parent comes to me for professional advice on diagnosing their child because s/he is exhibiting symptoms of ADHD, I ask them to see a medical doctor (and usually specify qualified Psychiatrist or Psychologist) who can recommend or administer a psychological assessment to obtain an accurate diagnosis; if a formal diagnosis is what they are seeking.
Otherwise, I address what's driving the ADHD like a behavior and the options, solutions and support for the parents and/or child. It may be helpful to also note, that, in my experience, often times a child's temperament is just temperament and not an indication of a diagnosable disorder. Kid Pointz can be an effective adjunct with other modalities in creating a framework to support high energy children at home, school and elsewhere. Being equipped with understanding, tools, strategies and long term healthy vision to handle today's challenges make life much sweeter and support for the child more impactful.