Every stage of life is defined by developmental milestones that are shaped or complicated in some way by the symptoms of ADHD.
In children, ADHD symptoms and traits like hyperactivity, distractibility, and impulsivity can influence behavior and performance in the classroom, with friends and family, and out in the world.
Below is an overview of the ADHD experience in childhood, including essential skills, parallel ADHD-related challenges, recommended treatments, and positive parenting strategies from experts that apply to all aspects of this stage of life.
ADHD in Children (6 to 12 Years): Challenges and Solutions
Developmental Milestones in Childhood
In grades 1 through 6, students work to build a rock-solid academic, social, and emotional foundation in the following areas:
- Reading acquisition and comprehension require sitting still and focusing consistently, a hurdle for children with ADHD.
- Learning math facts and operations may be thrown off track by distractibility and boredom. This results in careless mistakes like missing digits or skipping steps. Frustration follows.
- Understanding and following social contracts are harder with emotional dysregulation and poor perspective-taking skills. Children with ADHD often interrupt teachers and classmates, find it hard to keep friends, and act out in anger.
- Learning to follow multi-step directions — from morning routines to homework assignments — calls on a child’s executive functions, which are weak in the ADHD brain.
- Building organization skills happens through observation and practice, often a challenge in households where one or more parent has ADHD.
ADHD in Children: Positive Reinforcement Strategies
Positive reinforcement is particularly powerful at this stage of life. When elementary students constantly face punishment and disappointment from parents and teachers, their confidence and self-concept are destroyed. Set a time to discuss undesirable behavior after the immediate, stressful moment has passed. Clear, consistent goals and rewards make a world of difference at this age. Try these strategies:
1. To boost early language skills, align your child’s reading material with his passions and interests. Use graphic novels and audio texts to build a love of books, and engage in the material by asking questions to build his critical-thinking and comprehension skills. Watch the film version of a just-finished book and discuss the differences.