Innovative Solutions >>  A to Z Strategies for Students' Social, Emotional, Behavioral & School Problems >> Strategies to Reduce the Deficits of Attention Deficit Disorder

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Strategies to Reduce the Deficits of

Attention Deficit Disorder

Here's a surplus of great classroom behavior management strategies to manage K-12 students' attention deficit disorder (ADD). All these inventive strategies to manage ADD come from Youth Change Workshops' books, posters and workshops. If you need more than the smattering included here, take a look at those resources listed above; they offer more comprehensive options.

Innovative, More Effective
Behavior & Classroom Management Strategies
for Students with ADD


Teach Visual Tracking

Train youth to have "eyes on teacher". Use a rag doll to show "do" and "don't" behaviors; model the "do" behaviors then drill the students on the skills. Use a magnet and metal to illustrate how students' eyes must be "stuck" on the teacher.

Teach Auditory Tracking

Teach students to have "ears" on teacher. Use a rag doll to demonstrate, then model, and drill skills into habits. Give verbal instructions how to locate special treats or a prize as a fun way to train and drill listening skills.


Teach Pacing Skills

Train youth to slow rapid action by playing "Make That Move." Played similar to the old TV game show, "Name That Tune," as the student is about to speed through a task such as walking across the room, ask the youth how long it will take to "make that move."

Typically the youth gives an answer such as "10 seconds," then challenge the child by saying "I bet you could make that move in 2 minutes," to which the child responds "Oh yeah, I could make that move in 3 minutes," and so on.

When the student has identified a reasonable time frame, say "Make That Move." Now the child must "stretch out" their behavior to complete the task. Use "Make That Move" constantly, with homework and other tasks that the child normally races through. It can be a fun, enjoyable way to build better habits.


Teach Distraction Control

Thow to ask for help posterrain youth to identify distractions as "attention-grabbers" to avoid, modify or request help with. Use a loud radio, hair dryer, whistling, musical instruments and other distractions to drill students to spot and manage distractions rather than be captivated by them.

Students may think that teachers know when a pupil is having problems such as being distracted. Our Poster #022 powerfully conveys to students that if they need assistance, they will have to ask for it. It also provides an on-going reminder that you didn't have to articulate or repeat yourself. You don't have to buy the poster, you can just use the phrase shown on it to "cement in" the concept that teachers don't magically know when students need help.

With behavior and classroom management strategies like these, students with ADD can perform at a higher level, but be sure to provide lots of repetition and reminders.


Provide Motivation First

The child with ADD or ADHD may be comfortable with the behaviors that concern adults. They may not have a clue why the adults are so often in an uproar.

So, for example, show them the hazards of moving too fast before offering help to slow them down. To gain their interest, assist them to compare the results of moving very rapidly to moving more moderately in activities that are important to them, such as playing sports, for example.


Don't Just Ask or Demand

Our ADD strategies won't work very well if the student is feeling frustrated with you. Our strategies are good, but not good enough to compensate for that. You need to have a good working relationship and just asking or demanding behaviors from students may cause problems with that.

Often, asking or demanding won't work with many students, including some who have ADD or ADHD. Instead, teach missing skills in memorable, lasting ways with many repetitions, then drill new skills into lasting habits. Vary the content of the repetitions or you'll get complaints of "I'm bored."

Before expecting a youngster with ADHD to walk down the aisle in between desks at school without touching everything in her path, first motivate her then give her the skills to get down the aisle with her hands to herself.

So, to motivate her, find out what she cares about. Perhaps she's wishing to go to Hawaii. Now, relate walking down the aisle of desks to walking down the aisle of a jet or through people on the sand at the beach.


Be Patient and Stay Positive

Many students with ADD or ADHD can quickly sense your frustration or negativity about them. Expect small, incremental change, not leaps and bounds. If you are wrong, you'll gladly accept the rapid improvement, but if you are right, you won't be as disappointed and discouraged at what you could otherwise view as too little progress.

Remember: a child challenged by ADD can no more "just stop it" than you can just lose 10 pounds or stop smoking. Even subtle negativity will usually exacerbate existing problems.

These students are likely to become easy scapegoats or the victims of bullies if they come to believe they do everything wrong. So notice the good. For example, highlight the importance of speed and high energy shown by a youngster with ADHD during overtime in a basketball game. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that there can be some good aspects that can be emphasized and built on.


ADD and Conduct Disorders: You Can't Address One and Not the Other

Here's a stunning fact about ADD that you may not know. Research suggests that perhaps half of ADD-affected youth are also conduct disordered or oppositional-defiant.

If you work with ADD-affected youth who are also absolutely unmanageable and extraordinarily hurtful to others, then learn how to manage this child by learning about conduct disorders.

Ordinary methods will not work with conduct disorders, but large numbers of ADD-affected youth and children may also be conduct disordered, meaning that you must use special behavior interventions if you want to be able to successfully manage them.

conduct disorder bookIf you ever find ADD students utterly unmanageable and "nothing seems to work," this may be the missing piece that explains why. We have many resources that can further explain this phenomena, and deliver immediate help to stop the out-of-control behavior.

Read a free, introductory article on conduct disorder in our blog, or order our popular Anti-Social Youth and Conduct Disorders. It's available as a book or instant download, printable e-book.

You can also take one of our online courses on the topic and earn clock hours for your time. In addition to online professional development classes that cover conduct disorder, you will find other courses that relate to ADD  as well. Many of the other class choices will have lots more innovative classroom and behavior management strategies for students with ADD.

K-12 ADD strategies