Worried No More
For adolescents with ADHD, the transition to middle school can mean a whole new world of anxiety. These tips will help ease the junior-high jitters in the classroom and out.
Anxiety stems from things you can’t control — and there are plenty of those in the life of a child diagnosed with ADHD. A middle-schooler may dread going to school because he feels lost in class and is afraid the teacher may call on him. He worries that he might blurt something out to a classmate and be sent to the principal’s office-again. Riding the school bus brings more anxiety. He walks to the back of the bus, never knowing whether someone is going to make fun of him.
Your child may be as tall as you now, but, inside, he is a scared kid. How can you help him overcome anxiety in school and with friends?
Make a list of your child’s talents and passions. Parents can tell me negative things off the top of their head: Their son is lazy, messy, unmotivated, and he talks back. But what does he love doing? What is he good at? Nothing eases anxiety in a child more than doing something he enjoys.
Have a teacher or mentor give your child a job that uses his talents. This gives your child’s brain something to focus on, instead of thinking about things he cannot control. Let’s say your daughter loves to doodle and draw. Have the art teacher ask her to design posters for the upcoming school play. Your budding scientist can help a science teacher with chemistry experiments. Instead of coming to school anxious, he will look forward to showing off his abilities.
Slow down your lifestyle. Navigating middle school is tough. Kids feel new emotions, deal with the opposite sex, and try to find their place. If you are rushing around at home, this will create even more anxiety. Plan downtime, and say no to extra activities.
Invite kids to your house. Teach your child to build friendships in the safety of his home. Invite three or four kids over to do something your child enjoys — having pizza or playing a video game. If your child has a social group of his own, he can walk the school halls knowing that someone has his back.
Arrive early for new activities. When going to that new tae kwon do class, it can be intimidating to walk in after other kids have already formed a social group. Arrive early, so your child can get acclimated and feel settled.
To discuss this topic with other parents, visit the Anxiety and ADHD support group on ADDConnect.