Managing ADHD In Daycare

Lots of preschoolers exhibit behaviors that have all the hallmarks of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They can't sit still, they're impulsive, they find it hard to wait in line, they interrupt during storytime, they're disorganized, they can't stick with a task and finish it, their attention spans are briefer than brief, and they can't take the slightest bit of frustration without blowing a gasket.

A Challenge

If, as a daycare provider, you have one such child in your charge, you're bound to find it a challenge. But often, there are many such children within a given group. Learning the strategies for coping with these children and their behaviors is crucial for everyone involved, including the other kids in your care.

One of the most important pieces of advice you'll ever receive is to limit negative remarks. According to child neurologist Dr. Sara J. Dorison, such remarks may lead not only to an escalation of symptoms in children with ADHD, but will also lead to a state in which the child feels anxious about the daycare center or preschool. Also, there is a tendency for teachers to make lists in their heads so as to make a full, very negative report of the ADHD child to his parent at the end of the day.

Instead, Dorison suggests abbreviating the report to a short statement with a positive ending such as, "Billy had a rough day, but I'm sure tomorrow will be much better." This type of statement lends an air of encouragement to the child and parents and helps them to know you're on their side. If there are other negative issues that must be discussed, send the details in a sealed note, or make a call to the parent; but never in the presence of the child in question.

Well-Timed Activities

Daycare providers should take a close look at the activities they schedule and make sure to include plenty of opportunities to develop gross motor coordination. Author Laurie LeComer, who wrote A Parent's Guide to Developmental Delays says that if gross motor activities are well-timed, they should enable the ADHD child to sit and focus during more passive activities, such as storytime.

Another important concept is to target only a couple of problem behaviors at a time. For example, if the ADHD child acts out in an aggressive manner, the daycare provider can sit down with the child and explain that angry hands can't touch. But if every behavior is targeted at the same time, the child will end up in a state of confusion and can't possibly comply with even a single demand. The only results will be frustration and an inability to cooperate. Start with aggression and then when this issue is resolved, move on to fidgeting, cleaning, and so forth.