Many hyperactive children have been turned off to sports because of poor early experiences in organized sports and PE classes. The negative attitudes engendered early must be turned around because of the benefits of fitness and the enjoyment that comes from participating in sports and recreation. Carefully chosen activities can be therapeutic as well as enjoyable. The judicious use of medication before these activities can enhance successful participation, particularly by improving the ability to be coached and team play.
Some tips to help manage the behavior of ADD or ADHD students:
- Objectively identify what problems are the biggest impediments to the child’s learning. These may not be the most annoying behaviors or the ones you would most like to correct. Make a chart. List the behavior, when it most frequently occurs, what triggers it, and how disruptive it is on a scale of one to ten, and, for each problem, list at least one strategy for eliminating or changing the behavior.
- Look at the way you and other instructors treat the child. By looking at the way you teach and the class environment, you may be able to eliminate some undesirable behaviors quickly.
- Demonstrate behaviors that you want the child to follow like not speaking when others are speaking, putting equipment away after using it, talking in a polite quiet voice, and not being overly critical.
- If a child is struggling with learning or remembering a skill, partner him or her with a responsible older child or an assistant instructor. Remind the older child that his or her job is to be a role model and a helper.
- Try keeping track of the amount of positive and negative feedback you are giving the child in class. Look for areas to praise so you do not come across as mean or nagging.
- Give an ADD child specific action messages and instructions. The child does not grasp the subtlety of a statement like “Hanging on the stretching bar is dangerous.” The child also does not translate “Pay attention” into “Stop hanging on the stretching bar and get back in line.” If you want the child off the stretching bar, tell him or her exactly that.
- There is a temptation to “bribe” children with ADD into good behavior by lavishing them with material rewards for every good behavior. Simple rewards are best, such as praise in front of the class or the child’s parents, a simple “thank you” or “good job” that is well timed, or the opportunity to hold a special position in class.
- If a child is not performing a specific behavior such as sitting still, try using a “when…then” sentence like “When you sit down and stop talking, then I’ll explain the rules of the game we’re going to play.” Always use when, not if, because when implies that child will do something while if implies that he or she has a choice.
- Resist the urge to use ADD as an excuse for the child’s behavior. If you exempt a child from punishment, responsibilities, and expectations because of ADD, you are doing the child a disservice.
- If you want an ADD child to listen to you, try speaking slowly, quietly, and briefly. It also helps to make eye contact before beginning to speak so you know you have the child’s attention.