Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brain Games for ADHD Children

I spoke recently at the Health Symposium at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on ADHD. To hear the lecture and see the slides go to the following website and scroll to the bottom:

Often we tell our ADHD children to "sit still," "be quiet," "stop wiggling," "stop running around." These are common commands from parents of ADHD children. However, these children don't know how to follow our commands. They may desire to please us, but they are unable to keep themselves still or quiet for an extended time, and fail at fulfilling our requests. When they don't know how to sit still, be quiet, or stop running around, then they can't do it.

The truth is, these kids focus better when they are moving. When they are moving their brain speeds up into beta waves and they can concentrate better. Sometimes I believe we should take these kids outside and teach them while they are climbing trees :-)

However, constant motion does not help them learn to live in our society. There are times when it is inappropriate. It is up to us to teach these children how to calm down, since they don't know how to do it naturally. We can do it through games.

The reason I recommend games is because it is hard for ADHD children to focus, so unless it is fun, they won't want to do it. When something is fun or engaging, it becomes easier to focus because their brain speeds up. When it is boring or they don't like an activity, the brain goes back into it's slower wave forms and it becomes more difficult to pay attention and they can't do it.

The following two games are used with a stop watch. Children inherently love stop watches so it makes the game even more exciting for them.

1. Mirror Mirror How Still Can I Be?
Have your child sit in front of a mirror with a book on her head. As soon as she has the book stable she starts the clock. The goal is to sit very still without the book falling off. When the book falls, the clock is stopped. Do it again with the goal of increasing the time. This gives the child a desire and the experience of being still. It is teaching their brain how to be still.

2. Stop and Go
Have a place where your child can run around. Let them run for a short time and then yell "Stop!" The child stops and holds his pose, while the clock is started. The child is to hold very still. As soon as the child moves, the clock is stopped and the time noted. Then yell "Go!" and let the child run again. Yell "Stop!" and repeat the process. This teaches the brain how to stop in mid-action, and again teaches how to be still.

Remember to give lots of praise for every second of success. These children don't respond well to criticism or punishment, but they bask in praise and more praise. Find any little thing to praise them about. You will both be happier.

You can use the memory of both of these games to assist in calming your child at other times. "Pretend you are in front of the mirror and see how still you can be!"

"Can you 'Stop!' running just like in the game? Right now it is time for stopping. When it is appropriate to run again I'll tell you 'Go!' "

Then praise them for every little time that they can actually be still. Let go of the need to punish them when they can't be as still as you would like. They are still in training!

You can make up your own games. Consider something that your child is having difficulty with. "Practice" the best way to behave through a game. For example, if your child is having a hard time hearing and following through with directions, come up with a game that starts with one direction (of course doing something fun), goes up to two, then three, etc. and see how many he can remember to do. You can make a game out of anything to assist your child in helping their brain learn how to do what is hard for it to do.

If you come up with a good game, please comment here so we can all benefit!

Remember the new ADHD supplements through SpringTree Health. Take two of the ADD Focus Boost AM in the morning, and if necessary again in the afternoon. Take one to two Calm Time PM before bed. Please let us know the results...good or bad. You can order them from:

Watch for future tips for improving your life with ADHD children. Please recommend this blog to your friends so that we can all benefit from each other! Any tricks that work for you and your children please share! Thank you!

Until we meet again,

Dr. Judi


origamikaren said...

it should be obvious, but I thought I'd mention that when you use the "stop" command in the real world, you also need to let the child "go" as soon as it's possible.

Thanks for the tips -- these parctice games work with kids who aren't ADHD as well.

Diede School said...

Karen made a good point. These exercises can be helpful for non-ADHD kids as well. Anyway, with regards to those children with ADHD, parents should be patient as they help their kids understand the purpose of these activities. In the long run, just telling them to sit still is not enough.