Many children with ADHD struggle with the after school hours and with homework.
As a mom of a child with ADHD, this used to be a huge struggle for my son. The hours between 3 and 5 were pure torture for all of us.
Not only was he coming off of ADHD medication, but he was also hungry AND tired AND worn out from trying SO hard all day long to hold it together.
But I started seeing significant improvement when I began incorporating some strategies into our after school routine.
Get rid of those after-school meltdowns:
- If you don’t already have a routine, set one.
Children with ADHD thrive under routines, so make sure your after school routine is similar each day.
I would recommend that the first thing on this routine be a snack. Most kids are VERY HUNGRY when they finish up with school, so start the routine with a nutritious snack that will balance their blood sugar and provide them with the nutrients their bodies need. Our favorite after school snack is a smoothie jam packed with protein and superfoods.
Also incorporate homework time into this daily routine but as far away from bedtime as possible. Make sure that homework is done at the same time and place each day.
- Don’t quit if the routine isn’t working!
Many parents start a routine and then quit when their children put up a fight.
Not too long ago, one of the moms in my program came to me and said, “Dana, I’ve tried using an after school routine with my son, but he fights it the entire time! I’m done trying!”
I 1000% understand her frustration. I have been there for sure. But what I learned the hard way – and what I reminded her – is that it takes time for a routine to stick.
Don’t throw in the towel just because it’s not working after a couple of weeks.
So keep it up, even if it’s hard during the first few weeks.
- Build in breaks to the homework part of the routine.
As a part of the daily routine, build in breaks that your child knows are coming. For instance, you could say that every 15 minutes (or 5 or 10 or whatever works best for your child), there is a built-in break.
Again, make this a consistent part of the routine and eventually it will become second nature.
Children will begin to understand that they only have to focus for a few minutes before they get a break. The anticipation of the break helps them push through with their homework.
- Plan something fun afterward.
Just as those regular breaks help children push through the hard aspects of homework time, so does the anticipation of something fun afterward.
I like to use the When-Then strategy.
WHEN homework is finished, THEN screens are allowed for 30 minutes before dinner.
WHEN homework is finished, THEN you may play outside.
WHEN homework is finished, THEN we’ll get out the Legos.
- Be available to help. Stay close.
Some children with ADHD perform better, especially with tasks like homework, when a parent is close by.
That’s why teachers often sit certain students near their desks.
It’s the same principle.
Our nearness motivates them to keep working.
- Finally, work to reduce the inflammation in the body.
When the inflammation is reduced, it becomes much easier for a child to focus. This was how I was ultimately able to get my son off of his ADHD medications. I worked to reduce the inflammation in his body, and then slowly, with the help of his doctor, titrated his medicine down until he was off of it completely.
It was a process for sure, and not something that happened overnight.
Start by getting rid of the most common inflammatory foods, which are gluten, dairy, and soy.
Replace these foods with whole, micronutrient dense foods like whole fruits and vegetables and grass-fed protein sources. Then, over time, if the inflammatory foods stay out of the diet completely, and these whole foods stay in the diet, most children see significant improvement in their after school behavior.
Their emotions are more regulated, and their focus is better.
Want to know more about how we can help YOU get to a place of peace and calm with your child using natural strategies?
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And as always, I am not a medical doctor and the above post is based on my experience. No information on this site should be relied upon to make a medical diagnosis, treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition.