Question

ADHD

How can I help my child with ADHD manage excess energy?

A Answers (1)

  • ALara Honos-Webb, PhD, Psychology, answered
    Many children with the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) describe feeling like they have an internal motor that makes them go all the time. This exercise has two elements. In the first part, your child will practice monitoring her internal "motor" activity. By becoming aware of her motor, she will be less likely to be driven by it, and she will gain skills to help her tolerate the driven feeling. In the second part, your child will make fun cards with positive reminders telling her that she can control herself and take charge of the energy.
    1. To begin, talk to your child about how her excess energy can be thought of as a powerful motor that drives her. Ask her to draw a picture of the motor. Encourage her to talk about what the motor feels like and how fast it makes her go. Ask her to pay attention to the motor while she's at school and just notice when it speeds up or slows down during the day.
    2. While driving her home from school, or once she gets home, check in with your child and ask her what she noticed about the motor. Listen carefully as she tells you about her experience. Here are some questions you might ask her:
    • Where in your body do you feel the motor?
    • How big is the motor?
    • How fast is it?
    • What color is it?
    • When does the motor speed up?
    • What happens before it speeds up?
    • What happens after it speeds up?
    • When does it slow down?
    • What happens right before it slows down?
    • What happens right after it slows down?
    Use some of your child's responses to suggest strategies for giving her control of the motor. For example, if your child says she notices the motor speed up when she sits next to her friend Tommy during reading group, you can suggest that she try not sitting next to Tommy during reading group. If she says she noticed her motor slow down when she was trying to fix one of the toys at school, suggest to her that, when she finds her motor revving up, she can find something to fix or tinker with.

    You can also suggest to her teacher that your child be given certain responsibilities that involve tinkering, such as setting up audiovisual equipment, as a strategy for calming her down. You can also suggest to the teacher that he value and praise her abilities. Similarly, at home you may want to offer a great deal of validation and approval of her work with mechanical objects. In this way, she can receive approval and increase her self-worth by doing activities that are intrinsically rewarding to her.
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