Children ‘on the run’

Children who are constantly moving, are typically not observing, listening, hearing or fully understanding the world around them. Their learning and social emotional development is ‘at risk’ of not developing in the same way or at the same expected rate as their peers.

They often demonstrate a number of the following behaviours:

  • reduced imaginary play
  • poor play skills and social deficits
  • poor motivation to complete work
  • difficulty making and keeping friends
  • poor time management and organizational skills
  • a tendency to gravitate towards other students who have similar difficulties
  • a view of learning as difficult or unrewarding.

Some children who are constantly fiddling, fidgeting, moving or ‘on the run’ may ultimately be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Without thoughtful teacher and school-based interventions, these children can experience disruptions to learning and feelings of lack of worth as learning opportunities yield mixed or poor results.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

In Australia, ADHD impacts about 10% of male students and up to 5% of females and is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder for school-aged children.[1] Lawrence D, Johnson S, Hafekost J, Boterhoven De Haan K, Sawyer M, Ainley J, Zubrick SR (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents. Report ...continue For students with ADHD a range of practical strategies are needed to improve concentration, form a positive self-concept and belief that their abilities are valued, and learn that their behaviour can be managed through self-regulation and assistance from others.

While teachers are often familiar with strategies they can implement in the classroom to help children improve concentration and focus, they are often less familiar with strategies that children can use to self-regulate.  For example, in our ebooklet, Working with children who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (revised) we suggest practical strategies to assist the child self-regulate their attention and focus. These strategies include:

  • Encourage the child to use the flashlight technique where they switch on their ‘attention engine’ in their mind and shine a ‘virtual flashlight’ on the task, the teacher and the teacher’s voice to help focus their attention.
  • Carefully position a short strip of mirror tape on a 45-degree angle in front of the child at their work place as a self-management prompt. The mirror allows the child to see themselves move when they are distracted. Tell the child that each time they see their reflection move in the mirror it’s a reminder to direct attention back to their work. Monitor the mirror’s use to avoid it becoming a distraction in itself.

For further practical strategies and resources and to find out more about ADHD members can access the Psych4Schools ebooklet, Working with children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (revised). Non-members can access an excerpt of this ebooklet in the Free Resources section of the website, purchase the ebooklet from the website’s shop  or become a member.

Not a member, why delay? Join now, and benefit as a Psych4Schools member.

Murray Evely, Psych4Schools Psychologist

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