Self-Regulation in Children With ADHD

Developing Self-Regulation In Children With ADHD

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Self-Regulation in Children With ADHD

Developing Self-Regulation in Children With ADHD

So, your child has been diagnosed with ADHD. You want to help them learn skills to manage their symptoms and thrive, but where do you start? Self-regulation is key. Monitoring and controlling our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is crucial for success in life, and self-regulation skills need to be actively taught and practiced. The good news is that parents can use proven strategies to help develop self-regulation in children with ADHD. Keep reading to learn what self-regulation is, why it’s so important for your child, and how you can support them in building this vital skill one step at a time.

Understanding Self-Regulation Challenges In ADHD

As a parent of a child with ADHD, you know self-regulation doesn’t come easily. Kids with ADHD struggle to control their impulses, focus their attention and manage strong emotions. The good news is these skills can be developed with your support.

Understanding Self-Regulation Challenges

ADHD makes it hard for kids to stop and think before they act. Their brain has trouble balancing the brake pedal and gas pedal. They may blurt out answers, touch everything in sight, or need help waiting their turn.


Emotional regulation is also tricky. Your child may get frustrated, cry or tantrum frequently, or have trouble calming down. They live in the moment and have difficulty considering the consequences of their actions.


Finally, sustaining attention and following through on tasks requires a major effort. Your child’s mind may wander frequently, and they struggle with tuning out distractions. Starting and switching between readings can take time and effort.


The key is understanding these challenges, setting clear rules and routines, using positive reinforcement, teaching skills directly, and being patient. With compassion and support, you can help strengthen your child’s self-regulation step by step. Every small improvement will help build their confidence and independence. While ADHD won’t disappear, strategies and tools can help your child thrive.

Self-Regulation in Children With ADHD

Self-Regulated Strategy Development: A Research-Based Approach

Self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) is backed by over 30 years of research showing it helps kids with ADHD improve their self-control and learning skills. As a parent, you can support your child in developing these strategies in several ways.

▶ Providing structure and routine
Establishing a regular schedule or routine for your child can help make self-regulation more automatic. Things like consistent wake-up/bedtimes, meal times, homework times, and recreational times. Within these routines, give your child opportunities to make simple choices to start building their self-regulation skills in a supported way.


▶ Teaching specific strategies
Work with your child’s teacher or therapist to identify 2 to 3 key self-regulation strategies to focus on, like managing distractions, monitoring progress, or asking for help appropriately. Explain the strategy, model them yourself, and provide opportunities for your child to practice them. Offer guidance and reinforcement to help the techniques become second nature.


▶ Giving reminders and encouragement
Even with the best structure and strategies, kids with ADHD sometimes struggle. Gently remind your child of their processes and coping skills. Encourage and help them get back on track. Your support and patience can make a world of difference.

With time and practice, self-regulation strategies can become habits. Helping your child develop these foundational skills will set them up for success now and in the future. The rewards of improved focus, control, and independence will be well worth the effort.

Practical Tips To Help Your Child With ADHD Self-Regulate

As a parent of a child with ADHD, helping them develop self-regulation skills is one of the most important things you can do. Here are some practical tips to help your child learn to self-regulate:

  • Teach organization and planning. Help your child map out a plan to start and finish tasks. Show them how to organize their space, schedule, and materials. Practice these skills together.
  • Offer reminders and redirection. Gently remind your child of the rules and steps required to complete a task. Help redirect their attention back to the task at hand. Provide encouragement and positive reinforcement of their efforts.
  • Set clear rules and routines. Establish daily practices and schedules to provide structure. Explain your limitations and the reasons behind them. Be consistent with consequences when those rules are broken. Routines and rules help build self-control.
  • Model self-regulation strategies yourself. Demonstrate how you plan and organize your time. Talk through how you stay focused on difficult tasks. Explain how you monitor your behavior and emotions. Kids often mimic their parents’ habits and skills.
  • Provide opportunities to make choices. Give your child choices in appropriate situations. Help them think through options and consider consequences. Making good choices is a skill that takes practice. Offer guidance and feedback along the way.
  • Praise your child’s efforts. Provide positive reinforcement like verbal praise, high-fives, and rewards when your child demonstrates self-regulation. Their motivation and ability to self-regulate will grow with your support and encouragement.

With patience and practice, self-regulation skills can be learned and improved. Helping your child with ADHD develop these skills will set them up for success at home, in school, and life. Stay positive and keep working at it together, one day and one strategy at a time.

Self-Regulation in Children With ADHD


Start with understanding what self-regulation is and how it applies to your child. Then, focus on strategies like scheduling and routines, minimizing distractions, teaching organization, and time management. Most importantly, be patient through the process. Self-regulation is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. But with your support and encouragement, your child can better manage their attention, emotions, and behavior. Keep at it and stay positive. Success is absolutely within reach.

Chat with Themba Tutors today.
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Meet Craig Selinger, the passionate owner behind Themba Tutors, a renowned practice specializing in executive function coaching and tutoring. Together with his team of multidisciplinary professionals, they bring their extensive knowledge to numerous locations: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as well as offering remote services. As a licensed speech-language pathologist in the state of NY, executive functioning coach, and educational specialist with an impressive track record spanning over two decades, Craig has professionally assisted thousands of families. Craig's proficiency encompasses a wide spectrum of areas, including language-related learning challenges such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening. He is also well-versed in executive functioning, ADHD/ADD, and various learning disabilities. What truly distinguishes Craig and his team is their unwavering commitment to delivering comprehensive support. By actively collaborating with the most esteemed professionals within the NYC metropolitan region – from neuropsychologists to mental health therapists and allied health experts – they create a network of expertise.
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