Choosing After School Activities

Eileen Bailey Health Guide

    Although once considered a school day disorder, parents of children with ADHD will tell you that the symptoms do not disappear at 3:00 PM, when the school bell rings. ADHD impacts every aspect of children's lives. Homework, chores at home, social skills and activities outside of school are all affected by hyperactivity, inattention and impulsiveness.


    Planning activities your children can participate in often proves to be a challenge. Should your children play on sports teams? Would they be better off in social groups, such as boy scouts or girl scouts? Would individual sports, such as dance or martial arts be the best choice?

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    Parents need to understand both the symptoms of ADHD and their own child's personality to best choose an activity their child can succeed and thrive in.


    Team sports provide structure, physical activity and supervision. This type of activity provides physical and mental challenges and can teach social skills. However, all children do not do well in team sports. The competitiveness of team sports may be detrimental, especially to children that already suffer from low self-esteem. As children with ADHD are often emotionally immature, they may find it hard to relate to and get along with teammates.


    Individual sports can provide the same mental and physical challenges as team sports, as well as structure and supervision, but be less stressful. Some individual sports might include golf, swimming, dancing or gymnastics.


    Social clubs, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or 4H Clubs, offer structure, fun activities, creative outlets and community involvement. Often the clubs are small, allowing your child to make friends and be included in a small group. Club leaders can provide you with feedback on how your child is doing and may be able to help your child reach out to other children. These clubs can increase self-esteem as well as increase awareness of others less fortunate. They provide a sense of community pride and belonging.


    Martial Arts classes are also normally small in size and offer structure and support as well as teaching self-control, patience and providing a sense of belonging and achievement. Martial arts often help to increase self-esteem.


    Fine Arts Classes, such as those in your community that may teach music, art or drama are great opportunities for creative children. Many children with ADHD are creative and possess a vivid imagination. These classes can help to develop creative skills as well as provide a sense of belonging, achievement and pride.


    School sponsored clubs are often available for many different things. There may be music clubs, environmental clubs, drama, community improvement or reading. Look through the clubs offered by your school to see if any would fit your child's interests.


    Discussing your child's diagnosis, as well as their strengths and weaknesses with the coach, teacher or group leader beforehand is usually a good idea. It will allow them to provide feedback on the progress your child is making as well as what areas might be good to improve.


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    Whatever activity you and your child may decide on, keep track of their progress. Success in any area will help to increase your child's self-esteem and provide them with a sense of belonging to a group. These are areas often lacking in children with ADHD.





Published On: August 30, 2007