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As a child therapist, there are some diagnoses that tend to pop up more than others among my clients. ADHD is number one!
It seems like every other family that reaches out to me for services is having difficulties with their child surrounding their behaviors related to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, like not listening, having a tough time focusing, not following through on tasks and having as much activity as the Energizer bunny!
It’s these behaviors in particular that can be incredibly triggering for parents, teachers, and siblings alike!
I’m sure you all remember the classic parenting phrase “if I have to tell you one more time I’m going to.....!”
Most likely a parent responding to a child with ADHD!
So how do we as child therapists help these kids and families work on those challenging behaviors connected to their diagnosis?
Today’s post will share with you multiple interventions that you can use with your kiddos with ADHD (or let’s be real-kids in general!) to help them work on listening, focusing, impulse control, taking turns, and more!
Press Here by Herve Tullet. is such a fun book! You know you have a good book on your hands when your clients ask you to read the book MULTIPLE times in session (I swear-kids LOVE this book!)
This book uses prompts throughout it with primary colored circles to assist your client in following directions, listening, impulse control, and more! It’s definitely a keeper for your book collection!
Red Light Green Light
Red Light Green Light is a classic game for a reason.....it helps with a ton of social skills! Red light green light can assist your clients in working on listening skills, impulse control, and improving focus.
When using this game in session, I tend to stick with the typical instructions of green= go, red=stop, and yellow=slow down.
It can additionally be helpful to integrate taking a deep breath (or another coping/calming skill) for the yellow light. I always like to level up the game for kids to make it even more fun (and work on even more social skills-sneaky!!)
Some examples of this could be:
Purple=Say a positive affirmation
Orange=Do 10 jumping jacks
Brown=Name 5 things that make you happy
Gold=Sing your favorite song
Black=Name something that is hard for you to focus on
Simon Says in another classic game that is an awesome help for kids with ADHD! It can help with listening, following directions, paying attention, and-if you're a sneaky therapist like me-coping skills as well!
As a reminder, in the game you say "Simon Says_______________." The child should follow the directive given.
They have to listen closely because if you don't say "Simon Says" and give them a directive which they follow through on, they're out of the game!
I like to be "Simon" first to model how the game works in addition to integrating working on other social skills. To have some more buy in from clients, I then allow them to be "Simon" as well, which is definitely a privilege for any child to tell an adult what to do!
To make it easier for you all, I created a FREE Simon Says handout with a ton of directive items for you to use!
Impulse Control Bowling
The last intervention that I will share today is Impulse Control Bowling. For this intervention, you will need a bowling set, such as this one.
Set up the bowling pins in the typical bowling triangle shown below with one pin in the front, two pins in the second row, three in the third, and four in the fourth.
With your client, decide what topic of interest the game will be focused on.
This can be vegetables, types of dinosaurs, princesses, superheroes-whatever!
Once they pick a topic (for this example let's say they chose fruits!), have them pick their favorite (let's say it's a peach!).
Instruct the child to listen very carefully and to roll the bowling ball when the therapist says "peach."
The therapist will then name various fruits to help the client focus and listen for their special word.
Similarly to Simon Says, I like to have my clients switch roles and try and trick me with my special word!
I hope these interventions provide you with some great options for working with your clients diagnosed with ADHD and beyond!
Until next time, Play On!
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