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ADHD: Tips for Increasing Self-Control in the Classroom

written by: Mayflor Markusic • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/5/2012

The dilemma that teachers face in the inclusive classroom is to reduce classroom disruptions caused by the hyperactivity and impulsiveness of ADHD-diagnosed students. The only recourse for the teacher is to help increase the special students’ self-control. Here are some tips.

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    Teaching Tips for Promoting Self-Control

    A common symptom of ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the combination of hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Due to this symptom, the ADHD-diagnosed student can not focus on the lesson, forgets the tasks required, and can eventually disrupt the whole classroom. Unlike regular students, the misbehaviors of these students are not premeditated or intentional. They are inundated by impulses that are caused by their medical disorder. Physiologically, these impulses can be controlled by medications provided by the psychiatrist. Socially, these impulses can be controlled by a determined teacher. Here are some tips that will be useful to the teacher in increasing the special students’ ability for self-control.

    • Use timers – The timer can be a simple kitchen timer or a bell. The purpose of the timer is to separate the time periods allotted for specific tasks. In the beginning, the time periods should be brief – about five to ten minutes. Then, as the ADHD-diagnosed students demonstrate successful focus and self-control, the duration of the time periods can be increased.
    • Set very short term goals – The term of goals can be an hour, half a day, a day, a week, or a month. The short term goals break down the steps of a long range plan. The short term goals are also more attainable than one semester or annual goal. To solicit the involvement and help of parents, the teacher should inform parents of these short term goals. To accomplish the goal or finish a task, the teacher should provide continual reinforcement. Then, once each goal is achieved, the teacher should give recognition or rewards.
    • Commend the specific desirable behavior – When an ADHD-diagnosed student demonstrates a desirable behavior, such as staying on the task longer or submitting a complete assignment, the teacher should avoid stating a general approval. Instead, the teacher should mention the specific desirable behavior that was commendable. This will encourage the special student to repeat the same behavior.
    • Don’t hold the whole class accountable for the misbehavior of one student – If the ADHD-diagnosed student ends up disrupting the whole class, the teacher should avoid making the whole class suffer for the disruption. The special student will be beset by feelings of remorse, guilt, and distrust. The rest of the students will find it even harder to accept and welcome the ADHD student in their midst.

    The above tips work best in elementary inclusive classrooms but these can be modified so that these can be utilized in middle school and in high school. If faced with a new or confusing situation, the teacher should always be guided by good classroom management principles.