Addressing Impulsivity and Hyperactivity in the Classroom

Manila Bulletin, November 8, 2009 | Go to article overview

Addressing Impulsivity and Hyperactivity in the Classroom


Most children with ADHD experience failure in school not only because of low academic standing, but because of “misbehavior” in the classroom. These so-called misbehaviors are usually results of an ADHD child’s impulsivity and hyperactivity.Children with ADHD are ruled by their impulses, hence, suddenly shouting in class or leaving the classroom without the teacher’s permission usually happen.An expert on the disorder says that “these kids live in the moment” and may therefore seem to be defiant of school rules and the possible consequences of their behavior. Some people may find them rude or unruly, but children with ADHD may not recognize that their behavior is already disturbing to others.Curbing Impulsivity in ClassroomTeachers do not always have to shout or call out a child’s name in front of the class when they are “misbehaving” in class. Here are some ways to help curb their impulsivity symptoms in the classroom:• Class rules. Teachers and students should agree on class rules. Use more explicit or specific terms, like saying, “Always raise your hand before you answer a teacher’s question” Instead of just ‘’Behave properly.’’• Consequences for breaking rules. It has been observed that a student’s behavior improves when they lose something of value to them after they break a rule in class. An example of this is the “Stoplight System” where a student will earn a reward for good behavior, but lose them for violating rules.• Immediate discipline. Children with ADHD have trouble anticipating outcomes. Hence, delaying consequence like staying after class may not work for them. It will be much better if consequences for misbehaviour (Ex. pushing another child on the playground) will be given immediately (Ex. have him sit out part of recess).• Visual reminders. In order to spare a child with ADHD from the embarrassment of frequent reprimands from teachers, both of them could agree on using a “secret gesture” as a signal for the child to stay in his/her seat or to stop disrupting their classmates.• Recognition and rewards. Acknowledging good behaviour is very important for children with ADHD since they usually get a lot of negative attention for their misconduct.This should be done with specific praise, like: “I appreciate how quickly and quietly you cleared your desk.” For older children, a simple “thumbs-up” sign or a pat on the back may work better since they may be embarrassed by compliments.• Scheduled activities. It would help a lot if an ADHD child’s schedule will be placed on a blackboard, with completed items erased or crossed out. This will give the child a sense of being in control of his/her day and some form of “accomplishment”. It is also important to give the child an advance notice if there will be any changes to the usual routine.• Frequent alerts. In order to ease transition from an activity to the next one, teachers can give the class a five-minute warning, and then a two-minute warning until the work is done. Students with ADHD who may have difficulty shifting from one task to another may be assigned special tasks, like collecting their classmates’ papers to help them maintain self-control.• Daily report card. This technique will provide the child’s parents and teachers a system to monitor academic and behavioral goals, aside from giving the child a chance to earn rewards. It works this way: the teacher records whether the goals (in terms of behaviour) were met, and the child takes home the report card everyday to show his/herparents. …

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