How To Get A Kid With ADHD To Focus

ADHD is one of those really challenging
topics for kids and for parents. Today, we’re going to talk about some specific
ways to get a kid with ADHD to focus. There’s a lot of opinions and
philosophies out there about this particular topic. Here’s my take on it
really quickly. ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition
where a child’s mind… Typically a child. We’re talking about kids today but there
are some applications for adults too. We’ll handle that in another video. This
is a condition in which the child’s brain doesn’t appropriately regulate
their own activity. Which includes paying attention to things. So, if you can
picture different parts of your brain that do different things, do you know for
example which part of your brain controls eyesight, vision? Do you know?
Most people don’t. They usually guess that it’s probably up here by the eyes
somewhere. Well that’s the most common incorrect guess. The occipital lobe of
your brain back here at the back. It’s the part that houses the visual cortex.
All of the information coming in through your eyes goes through that part of your
brain. There’s a little strip up on top just off of the side. It’s about the size
of your thumb called the motor cortex. Handles all your arms, legs movement. Big muscles, small muscles. The right side of your brain controls the left side of
your body. And vice versa. I mean, this is crazy how the brain is designed. But just
to understand different parts do different things. Now, picture probably up
here in the frontal part of the brain, a little Center that’s in charge of paying
attention. Staying focused. Well it might be that part of the brain that’s being
affected in a kid with ADHD. So, it kind of goes to sleep. And because
this, the treatment of choice historically for attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder is stimulant medication. I know a lot of parents have
some issues with this because they don’t want to put their kid on stimulants.
Especially if the kid is already bouncing off of the walls. Well, it makes
some sense if you remember that it’s that part of the brain that’s not quite
functioning ideally. And if it’s getting lazy then the kid doesn’t have any way
to regulate his own behavior. Stimulant medication tends to wake up that part of
the brain a little bit. This is my understanding of it. And so that he can
pay attention and focus. That’s why I think stimulant medication works. In fact,
if you give stimulant medications to a kid who is not actually verifiably
diagnoseable, you’re going to increase the hyperactivity not decrease it. It’s been
well-established in the research and in the literature that having ADHD if it
goes untreated, can lead to behavioral problems, relationship problems, academic
problems. These kids tend to get into trouble a lot. So, we can’t just let it go.
I think we need to treat it. We’re not going to talk about the medication
treatment on this video. That’s not within my licensure, that’s not my
expertise. Here’s where I want to go. The behavioral side. And honestly, even if we
can’t figure out how to fix this thing from a medical perspective, if we can
manage the behaviors and help these kids focus better or pay attention better
then we’re solving at least a part of the problem.
Would you agree? So, let’s take a look at what can be done. I’m suggesting 4
steps here. And experiment with this a little bit. Let’s start with an
assumption that you as a parent are in a good place,
Psychologically. Alright? If you’re all upset this isn’t the time to do it. But
if you’re calm and cool and positive and you remember your job is to love them no
matter even if, then you’re in a good place to
try these 4 steps. Let’s do a little experiment, see what happens.
Step number 1, give them a task that they can handle. How can you tell if your
kid can handle any particular task? I like to use the 5k rule. It goes like
this. If I were to offer my child $5,000 (Or whatever the equivalent of $5,000 is
for your kid.) to do what I just asked him to do, would he do it? If the answer is
yes then we know that he has the ability to do it. And then we’re talking about
motivation. Now, what if I offer my daughter $5,000
to replace the roof on the home? No, she can’t do that. That’s outside of her
abilities. So, we’re trying to focus on ability not motivation, you got it? And if
we take the motivation out of the picture, do they have the ability to do
it? How about keeping their room clean? How about getting their homework done?
How about treating their sister nicely? Yeah. They can handle that. So step number
1, give them a task they can handle. Step number 2. As a parent, you want to
back off at this point. And by that, I mean don’t get all uptight about whether
they’re going to do it or not. In fact, it’s a little better if you hope that they
blow it. Well wait! Wait. That’s counterintuitive, right? Well normally, we
give our kids a task and what do we do? We hope that they do it, right? Because
that would show that we’re a good parent or whatever. No. I want you to hope that
they blow it? Why? Because they’re going to learn something. And they’re going to
learn something at the lowest cost possible. Do you remember all those
things that I said would happen if we let this go untreated? That’s expensive. A
learning experience can be cheap if it happens earlier. So, we hope that they
blow it because they’re going to learn something
at the lowest cost possible. Another thing this step does for you as a parent
is it puts you in a very different place psychologically. Think about it. If you’re
hoping… If you are hoping and praying that they do what you just asked them to
do, what are you going to do? You’re going to remind them. Well, we call it reminding.
They call it something else. Probably nagging or ragging on me, right?
Doesn’t work. If you hope that they blow it, you’re going to step back a little bit
and you’re going to smile. When Mom smiling, kids are thinking. Make a note of that
somewhere. You’re smiling. Why? Because they’re going to blow it. And you’re okay
with that. We’ve got 2 more steps. So, I’m not going to leave you hanging. It puts
you in a different place psychologically and this is powerful as a parent. Let’s
go to step number 3. You let consequences and empathy do the teaching.
Consequences and empathy. Now, quick little gut check here as a parent. Most
parents aren’t willing to let their kids have consequences. And so they go to the
old 3 Rs of parenting. You know what those are? Rant, rave, and rescue
where you ball them out and bail them out. Check here first to make sure that
you are okay with them having the consequence. If you are really opposed to
your child having a particular consequence then you will bail them out.
So, make sure you’re okay with it because that puts you in that powerful smiling
position where it’s like, “You can do this or not do this. Either way, it’s really
fine with me.” And you smile. And they get nervous. Why? Because now they have to
think and thinking’s a little hard for them already. Because they have a hard
time focusing, remember? This is going to improve their focus because now we’re
talking about things that are to them. So, you let consequences happen
and then we wrap that in empathy. Not anger. Anger usually indicates that
you’re going to bail them out soon. Don’t go there. Empathy is where you
understanding care how they feel. Connect with them. They don’t want this
consequence. You’re okay with it but they don’t want it. See, that shifts the
responsibility over to those little shoulders. She is fully capable of
handling whatever consequence you just gave her. Yeah. She can’t. And you’re okay
with it. Powerful psychological tool. Now, let’s go to step number 4. Step number
4 is where you give the same task again.
Yeah. Maybe the next day or in a couple of days. You give them the same task
again. This creates a very powerful message to your child. It says to your
child, “I trust you to learn from your experience. I know you can handle this.
You’ve got this buddy.” Wow, isn’t that empowering? As opposed to bail on him out
when you ball them out and bail them out, the message they get is, “Oh, you obviously
can’t handle thinking for yourself. I’ll do it for you.” Really? Do you want to sign
up for that job long term? That’s going to be terribly exhausting. Let’s empower our
kids instead. Hope you found that helpful. My hat goes off to you as a parent. Thank
you for the good job that you’re doing raising the kids in our world. We’ve got
lots of other resources here on the positive parenting playlist here on the
channel. And if you haven’t checked it out yet, please go to where we have other amazing resources for you as a parent. If you’re
here on LinkedIn, just hit the share button. If you’re on YouTube, there’s a
number of ways to copy and paste that link into other applications. Please
share it with other parent.

18 thoughts on “How To Get A Kid With ADHD To Focus

  1. My son is nearly 3. He doesn't talk yet ( just repeating words he listens but no full sentences) he doesn't play with other kids at kindergarten. He can't stand in one place and has a hard time concentrating on a game, but loves music and songs. Is this ADHD?

  2. Thank you so much Dr. Paul! I can apply this to my kiddos even if they're not ADHD children. Awesome tips hands down. I love how u relate everything so we can understand instead of just taking the info because it comes from a professional. 🙏🙏🙏

  3. Awesome advice! My son teaches me every day how to be a better parent. His brain is just wired a little differently. As parents, adjusting our expectations to be realistic is a struggle. I liked your roof-building analogy. 

    I recently heard someone compare brains to an engine. Executive functions are automatic for most people, but his are manual. It takes a little more time, effort, and understanding to shift.

  4. I have a 13 year old who is been on Stimulants since he was 9. It has helped him achieve his full potential academically and socially. He is a straight A student who has deep understanding of human behavior. When I was struggling with him initially, what helped me most was taking a step back and letting him face the consequences of his actions. It helped me keep my sanity. I 100% agree with your technique s. Than you got sharing

  5. thank so much!!!love wat url do!N tnx also for the webinar for coaching!Keep it up!Well done!well wishes for the year n years to come 👸🏻🤴🏻💫🙏🏼💎🌈📖🥗

  6. Question: (I was assumed ADD or ADHD as a kid. No meds were ever given though. Through 17-23 I self medicated with speed. Now I'm 30 & clean & I've stayed clean.) Is it possible the brain can change? Speed once calmed me down. Then other times sped me up. Now I'm a normal functioning sober person. How can I have changed so much with ability to focus.

  7. Thank you Dr. Paul for your videos, I love checking up on whats new.
    I´ve been wondering if you have made a video on kids with ADHD and autism spectrum? I have a five year old who was recently diagnosed with those disorders and sometimes I struggle handling him when he gets frustrated. Perhaps you could point out to me a video that explains that disorders combined together, or if I can find it on your playlist.
    It is an inspiration to watch your videos.
    Best regards from Iceland.

  8. What should I say or do when I’m constantly reminding my child who is 10 yrs old and has ADHD to behave according to school expectations and she does not do what she should be doing? Examples would be focusing on getting assignments done on time, and following through with tasks. She is also a very talkative kid! These are issues we’re dealing with and it’s difficult to parent at times. I should mention she is on medication for her ADHD. What to do?

  9. Hi dr paul!
    I really need your advice.
    My son is 7, hes in grade 1. The curriculum is pretty full on, he has always had learning issues, for example he only understood how to name colours at age 4. Theres no way he will learn something when he isnt ready, for example i tried to teach him letters from age 4 and he just couldnt get them until he was 6 and a half. He is reading now, but gets confused with b d g (i was the same and i was told i was dyslexic). Credit to him though, hes learning two languages.
    He does great with a lot of study, he has exams in school and gets great marks with a lot of study. All of this is not a concern to me just a bit of background.

    My problem is that sometimes he will know some thing then completely forget the entire concept. For example he is learning numbers to 99 and he knows them all. Writes them all fine. He then has to answer questions like "what number comes before/after 50" or "what number is 2 bigger than 50".
    He was doing this fine, answering it all right, telling me how happy he was when hed get the tricky ones.
    Then suddenly he forgot the whole concept. I ask him what comes after 49 and he tells me 59. What comes before 50 and hell tell me 40.

    He does this wirh other things too. Ive noticed that with some things if i leave it and let him sleep and we try again the next day he remembers it all again. With thr maths i think im going to start from square 1 again.

    Ive noticed that if he needs to memorize something he does better if its something he can visualise. Eg. He needed to know the boardering countries to our country and he retained them when i showed him the map and he read the names of the countries and read the words "north south east and west" next to them. Then when id ask him the question i actually saw him reading the words from his mind as if he was looking at the picture of the map in his mind, sounding out the letters.

    I know u cant diagnose him, but should i be concerned? I know he has learning difficulties so i try to give him the extra attention that i didnt have as a child. Or is there more to it that i need to be aware of?? It blows my mind and im tell him "you knew this!!! U know how to do this we were doing it fine all week"! And i know hes giving it his all too.

    Thanks for taking the time!

  10. Dr Paul, my son is in 6th grade and he doesn't take any meds for ADHD. His academic us pretty bad no matter how much help he got from school. He does very sloppy jobs , just get the hw done that's why teachers gives him low grades. He doesn't want me to help him at all, but his older sister helps him sometimes. Recently, he told me he doesn't really have friends because he doesn't do well at school. I want to ask you how i can help him improve his grade to C. I just can't imagine if he fails most of the class except P.E. At home, he does some chores too, very hard working boy. But when it comes to school work he doesn't want it, i don't want to push him too much on homework because he told me he hates school.

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