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      Thamin Abdul-Qadir

      Helping and Coping With Pupils With ADHD (Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder)

      Definition: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by excessive amounts of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that are pervasive, impairing in multiple contexts, and otherwise age-inappropriate.


      Symptoms in children and teenagers

      The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are well-defined, and they’re usually noticeable before the age of 6. They occur in more than 1 situation, such as at home and at school.

      Children may have symptoms of both inattentiveness and hyperactivity and impulsiveness, or they may have symptoms of just 1 of these types of behaviour.

      Inattentiveness (difficulty concentrating and focusing)

      The main signs of inattentiveness are:

      having a short attention span and being easily distracted

      making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork

      appearing forgetful or losing things

      being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming

      appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions

      constantly changing activity or task

      having difficulty organising tasks

      Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

      The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

      being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings

      constantly fidgeting

      being unable to concentrate on tasks

      excessive physical movement

      excessive talking

      being unable to wait their turn

      acting without thinking

      interrupting conversations

      little or no sense of danger

      These symptoms can cause significant problems in a child’s life, such as underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults, and problems with discipline.

      Ways to Manage Children with ADHD

      Plan the day

      Plan the day so your child knows what to expect. Set routines can make a difference to how a child with ADHD copes with everyday life.

      For example, if your child has to get ready for school, break it down into structured steps, so they know exactly what they need to do.

      Set clear boundaries

      Make sure everyone knows what behaviour is expected, and reinforce positive behaviour with immediate praise or rewards. Be clear, using enforceable consequences, such as taking away a privilege, if boundaries are overstepped and follow these through consistently.

      Be positive

      Give specific praise. Instead of saying a general: “Thanks for doing that,” you could say: “You washed the dishes really well. Thank you.”

      This will make it clear to your child that you’re pleased and why.

      Giving instructions

      If you’re asking your child to do something, give brief instructions and be specific. Instead of asking: “Can you tidy your bedroom?” say: “Please put your toys into the box and put the books back onto the shelf.”

      This makes it clearer what your child needs to do and creates opportunities for praise when they get it right.

      Incentive scheme

      Set up your own incentive scheme using a points or star chart, so good behaviour can earn a privilege. For example, behaving well on a shopping trip will earn your child time on the computer or some sort of game.

      Involve your child in it and allow them to help decide what the privileges will be.

      These charts need regular changes or they become boring. Targets should be:

      immediate – for example, daily

      intermediate – for example, weekly

      long-term – for example, 3-monthly

      Try to focus on just 1 or 2 behaviours at a time.

      Intervene early

      Watch for warning signs. If your child looks like they’re becoming frustrated, overstimulated and about to lose self-control, intervene.

      Distract your child, if possible, by taking them away from the situation. This may calm them down.

      Social situations

      Keep social situations short and sweet. Invite friends to play, but keep playtimes short so your child does not lose self-control. Do not aim to do this when your child is feeling tired or hungry, such as after a day at school.


      Make sure your child gets lots of physical activity during the day. Walking, skipping and playing sport can help your child wear themselves out and improve their quality of sleep.

      Make sure they’re not doing anything too strenuous or exciting near to bedtime.


      Keep an eye on what your child eats. If your child is hyperactive after eating certain foods, which may contain additives or caffeine, keep a diary of these and discuss them with a GP.


      Stick to a routine. Make sure your child goes to bed at the same time each night and gets up at the same time in the morning.

      Avoid overstimulating activities in the hours before bedtime, such as computer games or watching TV.

      Night time

      Sleep problems and ADHD can be a vicious circle. ADHD can lead to sleep problems, which in turn can make symptoms worse.

      Many children with ADHD will repeatedly get up after being put to bed and have interrupted sleep patterns. Trying a sleep-friendly routine can help your child and make bedtime less of a battleground.

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