Parenting a restless and impulsive child can be extremely challenging, and it is not always easy to know where to turn for help.
Typical ADD/ADHD behaviours include tuning out, trouble following instructions, poor focus and attention, easily distracted, poor coordination, especially fine motor control, poor spatial awareness, interrupting others when speaking, poorly controlled emotional reactions, trouble sitting still, fidgeting, tapping toes or fingers and talking excessively.
Then there are times when your impulsive child can seem totally focussed, fully absorbed in something, such as watching television, or playing video games. Blocking out all external sensory input from their environment, they can react in anger and frustration when interrupted.
Your ADD or ADHD child is struggling to process sensory impressions, and becomes easily overwhelmed in a busy environment. They might seem excessively “touchy”, or highly anxious, with a nervous system constantly in a high state of alert. Unable to self-regulate their emotions, they react impulsively, often to seemingly small stimuli.
Self esteem can be damaged as your child struggles to fit into a world full of confusion.
In the Classroom
Your child with signs of ADD or ADHD may struggle to concentrate and maintain focus in a busy classroom, and may be in trouble for being disruptive, talking or not paying attention. Often described as “attention seeking”, this child can be easily triggered, maybe simply by a tone of voice, or the general noise levels in the room, and struggles to process sensory input that may seem overwhelming.
In this state of overwhelm, the child’s survival instinct kicks in, shifting them to an automatic flight/fright response. Restlessness often escalates as their anxiety increases, and their ability to take in and process sensory information is further impaired. As a result, the child struggles to stay present, and “pay attention”. An authority figure in the room may react in frustration, inadvertently increasing the child’s restlessness and anxiety.
The child is not choosing to be annoying. Rather, we can view the behaviour as a “cry for help”. It is telling us a story. My preferred response, then, is not about asking the child to “try harder”, but about trying to understand the “why” of the behaviour.
Treatment does not always need to involve medication. Exploring these behaviours by “stepping into” your child’s world can help bring about a deeper understanding, and lead to appropriate interventions, aimed at recovery by addressing underlying issues.
Offering a drug-free approach, I view ADD and ADHD as a description of behaviours, rather than as an illness. This approach involves identifying and addressing the reasons underlying the behaviours, looking for gaps or immaturities in early sensory and motor development. Then we work together to address the “gaps” and build the neural “superhighways”.
The first step in therapy is to form a relationship with the child, accepting them for who they are, and what they bring, offering a place of safety and trust, understanding their fundamental need for connection.
A Family Issue
Of equal importance is support for the child’s parents, helping you to build a closer relationship with your child. The aim is to build security and self esteem, fostering a connection through acceptance, helping your child to achieve to their individual potential.
My experience is that as immaturities in early development are addressed, a child ’s behaviour becomes much more in keeping with their chronological age. Positive attributes such as empathy and self-regulation develop naturally, and we see gains in academic achievement through improved ability to focus and pay attention.