Understanding the Mental Skills Affected by ADD and ADHD (Part 2)
This is Part Two of a two-part article. Part One can be found in the Jan/Feb article Understanding the Mental Skills Affected by ADD and ADHD (Part 1).
These two articles discuss the types of mental abilities affected by ADHD, give examples of academic tasks that use these mental abilities, and provide examples of strategies to improve each of the skills. Part One discusses six important mental abilities and Part Two talks about seven additional mental abilities.
It’s important to understand how your child’s mental skills are affected by ADHD so that the proper support can be provided. Students with ADHD often have a difficult time in school and greatly benefit from a structured program of support to improve the mental abilities affected by ADHD. People with ADHD have mild to severe problems in the areas of managing their attention, memory, thinking, motivation and emotions.
This is the power to resist the urge to say or to do something, for example, the ability to stop oneself from interrupting or criticizing. It also involves the ability to think before acting. Students use response inhibition every time they decide to study for a test instead of taking the night off to watch TV. When kids become skillful in using response inhibition, they are able to carefully select a strategy to improve the situation.
Improving response inhibition in the area of test anxiety:
Kids find it much easier to stop themselves from doing something if they have a clear alternative behavior to use instead. First, help your child find some techniques that remind him to relax, such as wearing a special wrist band, or using a special pencil. This is the trigger that will alert your child to using the negative-thought-stopping techniques you teach him. One of my favorite negative-thought-stopping techniques is repeating the sentence, “I knew this when I studied, so I know it now.” This helps kids reconnect with self-confidence and calms the negative, anxious messages in their heads.
Self-regulation of Affect
This is the ability to deal with emotions so that they don’t get in the way of completing tasks or achieving goals. One example is keeping test anxiety under control. Another example of controlling emotions is overcoming boredom or irritation to keep working on an important task.
Regulating affect to conquer boredom:
Kids need to remind themselves of the “bigger picture” which is that being good in school gives their life meaning and purpose and leads to accomplishing their future goals. Talk about the future with your child! Help him/her make plans, dream big and connect school with this amazing future! If the amazing future is clear and vibrant in his/her mind, it’s much easier for him/her to find value in academic tasks.
Also, help your child find true excitement and value in school subjects. Have exciting talks about the material, go to museums, read assignments together and help your child see the relevance of what he/she is studying.
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