Tips to Limit Preschooler’s Screen Time

The exciting nature of screen time can trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that makes us associate screens with pleasure and therefore something we want to spend more time with. When the game stops, so does dopamine release and for some individuals this can result in irritability. 

Time spent in front of a screen is also time your kids are not spending engaged in other activities, many of which minimize behavior problems. 

Kids with more than two hours a day of screen time by the age of 5 are almost eight times more likely to meet the criteria for ADD/ADHD than youngsters who spend less than 30 minutes a day looking at a screen, according to a 2019 Canadian study in Plos One

The next time you’re tempted to use screen time as a sort of babysitter, think twice. You could be setting up your child for a lifetime of struggle. It’s best to limit your preschooler’s screen time to no more than 30 minutes a day. Here are three ways to limit your preschooler’s screen time. 

 1. Use parental controls. 

Tablets and smartphones come equipped with control options that allow parents to monitor and limit screen time. 

2. Set and enforce screen rules. 

No screens at the dinner table. No screens in the car. No screens before bedtime. Whatever rules you set, be sure to enforce them. This will help preschoolers develop a healthier relationship with their tech gadgets. 

3. Encourage physical activity. 

Take your child to the park, swimming pool, or activity center or sign them up for group sports so they can burn off energy while having fun and learning new skills. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain, and it boosts focus and attention. Kids who spent at least two hours a week playing organized sports were less likely to have behavioral issues. When ADD patients play sports, such as basketball, which involves intense aerobic exercise, they tend to do better in school. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  

10 Tips for Managing Your Child’s ADHD

A child with ADHD can place many demands on your time, energy and sense of competence. The constant interruptions, need for repeated instructions and close supervision can be taxing. The following strategies may be helpful. 

1. Clear rules and expectations 

Children with ADHD need regular reminders of the house and classroom rules so set clear targets for behavior and re-cap them at the end. 

2. Strategic praise 

Recognition of making the right choices will serve as a regular reminder of behavior expectations for a child with ADHD. Positive attention is powerful – “Catch them being good.” 

3. Immediate or short-term rewards and consequences 

Children with ADHD will benefit from immediate feedback for desired behaviors and likewise clear and proportionate consequences.  

4. Be persistent and consistent 

You may want immediate results, but that’s not likely. It can take months to see significant progress. When the boundaries are consistently applied the child will learn that you are in it for the long run and the relationship will form. 

5. Establish routines 

Children with ADHD get bored with routines but need them desperately, routines may include visual timetables on the desk and warning when the daily routine is going to alter. 

6. Create clear plans and checklists for lessons and unstructured activities 

Write these on their desks. A child will benefit from seeing the activities checked off and will feel a sense of accomplishment which also builds resilience in the learning environment. 

7. Use timers 

Timers are great for setting activities and movement breaks. 

8. Reward for going above and beyond 

Ensure that children have a personalized reward of their choice for completing their work or helping others in the classroom.  

9. Plan your learning environment 

Students with ADHD benefit from the learning environment having minimal distractions. Student and parent voice will help to establish the ideal environment for the child to access the learning. 

10. Empower 

Allowing a child with ADHD to feel empowered is a helpful step. Ask them where and how they think they will learn best.  

The promotion of self-regulation should be encouraged too. This can be achieved through a time-out card and identifying a safe space when environment becomes overstimulating or when the child feels dysregulated. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  

How to Get a Child with ADHD to Go to Sleep

Modify Medicines 

Trouble with sleep is a common side effect of ADHD medications (which are stimulants). To be sure your child can wind down at bedtime, ask their doctor about changing the dose, the timing of it, or the type of medication they’re taking. There are non-stimulant options that could work for your child’s ADHD. It may take a few tries to find the combo that works best for focusing during the day and going to sleep at night.  

Welcome the Dark 

You may have most of the lights off in your child’s room at bedtime, but does that make the room dark enough? Your kid’s body clock may need more of a nudge to know it’s nighttime. Unplug or cover any electronics that glow. Blackout curtains can help shut out extra light from outside. If your child will wear it, a sleep mask can also do the trick. 

Skip the Screens 

The blue light from the monitors on things like computers, tablets, and phones can trick your child’s brain into thinking it’s time to be awake. Limit screen use to earlier in the day and fill your child’s post-dinner hours with activities like board games, reading, or quiet play. 

 
Focus on Food Choices 

What and when your child eats (or drinks) can affect their sleep schedule. A bedtime stomach that’s too full or too empty can make it hard to start snoozing. So, can snacks and drinks packed with caffeine. Skip soda, tea, and chocolate in the afternoon and evening. 

Stick to a Schedule 

A nighttime routine can help ease your child toward sleep. A regular order of events at bedtime will help train their body and brain that sleep comes next. Write your plan down, with the help of your child. That’ll make sure you’re both on board (and help babysitters know the drill when you’re away). 

Move More 

A body that exercises daily sleeps better at night. Anything that gets the blood pumping and muscles moving works.  

Build in Bath Time 

A soothing soak in the tub might be just the trick to tire your child out. After they get out of a warm bath, their body will start to cool off. That can make them feel sleepy. 

 
Set a Wake-Up Time 

It’s easier (most of the time) to get a kid out of bed than to get them to fall asleep. Keep your child’s wake-up time the same every day, including weekends, so their body gets in the rhythm of the same sleep hours. 

Stifle Sound 

It’s likely your child’s bedtime happens before the rest of the household hits the hay. Block out extra noise that could distract your kid from dream time. White-noise machines create soothing static that can mask other sounds. Earplugs can also work for kids more sensitive to noise. 

 
Address Anxiety 

About 25% of kids with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder. That can make a child’s mind race and prevent it from drifting off. Talk to your child’s doctor about whether that might be part of their sleep problem. They might suggest other therapies or strategies. 

 
Head Off Homework Early 

Schoolwork often causes stress, which can delay sleep. Help your child organize their time so they can finish their work early enough that bedtime can stay the same. Try using checklists and a specific work area to help them stay on task. 

 
Maybe a Sleep Supplement 

Melatonin is a hormone your brain releases at a certain time of day to tell your body it’s time to go to bed. You can buy it in pill form and take it before bedtime to treat insomnia or other sleep problems. Experts are still studying the long-term effects of using melatonin, but they consider it safe to use in kids. Ask your child’s doctor if it might work as a sleep aid. 

Relaxation Techniques 

Brain and body calming methods can help some kids. Breathing exercises and guided imagery are two ways to slow down a racing mind and jittery limbs. Ask your doctor to help you find ways to show you and your child what to do. 

 
Choose the Right Time for Bed 

Be sure your child’s bedtime is setting them up for good sleep. Figure out how many hours they need based on age: 

Two-year-olds and younger need 14+ hours. 

Preschoolers need 10-13 hours. 

Kids under 13 need 9-11 hours. 

Teens need 8-10 hours. 

Count backward from their wake-up time and start there. Some kids do OK with less than the average and may go to sleep faster with a later bedtime. 

Your doctor can help find out what works best. 

 
Rule Out Other Things 

Sometimes ADHD isn’t behind sleep problems. If you’ve tried good strategies without success, think about seeing a sleep specialist. Your child could have: 

Asthma 

Allergies 

Sleep apnea or another disorder that disrupts rest. 

Snoring or pauses in breathing can be signs of a sleep struggle other than ADHD. 

Why Does My ADHD Child Not Listen?

When it comes to ADHD, you shouldn’t automatically assume that your child does not listen. They, in fact, might, though, it might appear that they don’t. Alternatively, they could hear and understand and decide to act defiantly instead of obeying. Ultimately, there could be several things going on. Let’s look at some of the most common possibilities. 

🟣 You don’t have their full attention 

For a child with ADHD, their mind often jumps from one focus point to another. If nothing specifically grabs or demands their attention, their mind quickly moves to the next thing. To make your ADHD child listen, do everything you can to request and maintain their full attention. 

🟣 They don’t understand what you are saying and can’t process the information 

Many children with ADHD might struggle with verbal commands because they do not learn best in an auditory setting. If processing is an issue, change your approach and possibly try to explain what you want through demonstration. You could also try to write out instructions or use pictures or drawings. 

🟣 They are being willfully defiant 

In response to defiance, if you want to make your ADHD child listen better, you can try a few things. First, you may want to explain the consequences of their actions again. If they still choose not to obey, you should carry out the consequences. You can’t back down, though, or change the results from what you had said. By doing that, your child might believe they have won the encounter and choose to continue to be defiant in the future. Instead, you should do what you said and carry through on the consequences. Hopefully, they eventually will learn to obey to receive positive results instead of negative ones. 

Secondly, if you find that negative consequences have little effect, you might consider seeking out professional help. Many individuals with ADHD also have Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD. ODD is a separate disorder in which a child willfully and persistently opposes the authority of others. If you continually have concerns about your child’s defiance, this might be the underlying cause. 

Making your ADHD child listen can be a difficult task. You don’t have to be alone in figuring it out, though. While it might take time, you can learn to communicate in ways to make your ADHD child listen. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog 

How to Smooth Transitions and Avoid Meltdowns

Turning off the TV, leaving the playground, giving back the iPad, or ending a play date — any of these may provoke a tantrum. Why? Many children with autism and ADHD have difficulty moving from one task to another, especially when they must stop an enjoyable activity. Behavior intervention strategies can help smooth the transitions. 

  1. Define Expectations 

Clearly identifying your objectives and setting attainable short- and long-term goals are the first steps to any behavior change plan. 

Let’s take the LEGO example. The expectation may be: When the time comes to shift to another activity, my child will comply when he is asked, without resisting, crying, shouting, or throwing things. 

  1. Create a Schedule 

A written or a visual schedule can help your child follow the order of events for a specific time period. But posting a schedule does not automatically mean your child will follow it. Checking off the events in a schedule should be accompanied by positive reinforcement. 

  1. Reinforcement 

Once you have thought of possible reinforcers for your child (you can create a visual depicting the reinforcers for your child to see), try simultaneously presenting the reward as the transition time is occurring, before your child can resist. Besides offering tangible items, positive reinforcement should also include behavior-specific vocal praise. 

If your child already starts to fuss when the announcement is made to start a new activity, don’t promise the reinforcer. It is very important that the engagement in a challenging behavior never results in receiving a pleasurable item or activity. Reinforcers should only follow desired behaviors. As transitions are consistently paired with reinforcement, the new desired behavior can become more of the “norm.” 

  1. Plan 

Prepare in advance to reap the benefits from your intervention plans. Know how you will present the transition, what items or activities will be effective reinforcers to motivate a successful transition, and how you will respond if your child does not go along with the shift in activity. 

  1. Give Choices When Possible 

Offer options to help your child with transitions. You might say, “Do you want me to help you clean up, or do you want to do it by yourself? It is almost time to leave for baseball practice,” “We are ready to finish TV time and have lunch.” It also helps to see things from your child’s perspective. If a game is just about to end, or there are three minutes left on his TV show, be flexible when possible. 

When a parent’s emotion run high, the child’s emotion will, too. Demonstrate the behaviors you want your children to engage in. Urging a child to “Come on, hurry! We are going to be late,” can have a negative effect. Stay calm and steady. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog 

Ideas to Help Improve Executive Functioning in Kids

If a child has Executive Functioning Disorder or delays, it does not mean that all the skills and tasks are negatively impacted. A child may be delayed in one skill or all skills. 

Since there are many other diagnoses associated with EF skills, such as, ADD, ADHD, ASD, and Traumatic Brain Injury, many tend to look at the larger diagnosis and not look through the EF lens. This can lead to missed opportunities to assist a child with gaining independence and confidence. Often a child may be called “lazy”, when in fact they have EF difficulties and are unable to plan out how to do something. 

Here are some great tools to help a child that may be experiencing EF difficulties: 

1. Rationale: When a child learns new skills, provide the rationale behind them or things like planning for the task might feel like a waste of time. 

2. Outline steps: Support the child by defining the steps involved in tasks ahead of time to make a task less daunting and more achievable. 

3. Use aids: Use tools like timers, computers, iPad, or watches with alarms. 

4. Visuals: Prepare visual schedules and review them several times a day. 

5. Provide 2 types of information: Provide the child with written (or visual) instructions as well as oral instructions. 

6. Create checklists and “to do” lists, estimating how long tasks will take. Use checklists for getting through assignments. For example, a student’s checklist could include items such as: get out pencil and paper; put name on paper; put due date on paper; read directions. 

7. Use calendars to keep track of long-term assignments, due dates, chores, and activities. 

8. Improve working environment: Assist the child to organize their workspace and minimize clutter and distractions. 

9. Establish routines to try to consolidate skills and memory of what needs to be done. 

10. Cut and paste projects requiring multiple steps in which they must complete tasks in a sequential manner. 

11. Mind mapping to assist the child to get ideas down on paper strategically. 

12. Games: Planning and problem-solving games such as puzzles or games like ‘Go Getter’ (River & Road game). 

13. Lotus diagrams: Use lotus diagrams with the child to help with structuring thoughts on paper whilst creating clear expectations as to how much to write. 

14. Block building: Get the child to copy block designs from a picture or a 3D model. 

15. Drawing: Draw a picture as a model. Then draw an incomplete version of the same picture and ask the child to finish the picture to make it look like the model. 

16. Practice goal setting with the child (e.g., Help the child to set attainable goals that are well-defined). Break goals down into smaller steps and talk about alternative approaches with the child. 

17. Recall games that require the child to recall information such as Memory: “I went to the shops and bought a…” 

18. Multi-tasking: Practice doing several activities at once (it may be helpful to number the activities) to encourage the child to learn to shift from one activity to another. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog 

Praise Is Important for Children with ADHD

Praise nurtures your child’s confidence and sense of self. By using praise, you’re showing your child how to think and talk positively about themselves. You’re helping your child learn how to recognize when they do well and feel proud of themselves. 

Giving your child words of praise is like offering him a ticket out of the fear and self-doubt that plague him. 

The key to effective praise, the kind that is transformative rather than simply pleasant — is placement. If you applaud everything your child does, your praise sounds phony and loses its power. If, however, you withhold acclaim for only those occasional moments, you may lose the chance to draw out more from a child than he knew he had in him. 

And what if your child does little to deserve praise? Help him to succeed, to go beyond himself. Praise is especially important for children who have ADHD because they typically get so little of it. They undergo testing and are expected to feel grateful for constructive criticism. 

Children with ADHD carry buried treasures and hidden talents that must be excavated to be developed. Praise is one of the best pickaxes in this important mining expedition. 

A reward is a consequence of good behavior. It’s a way of saying ‘Well done’ after your child has done something good or behaved well. It could be a treat, a surprise or an extra privilege. For example, as a reward for keeping their room tidy, you might let your child choose what’s for dinner. So, when you praise or encourage your child’s behavior and then reward it, the behavior is more likely to happen again. 
 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog  

Strategies for Strengthening Communication with Your Child

Parenting a child with ADD or ADHD is a challenge. Communication is essential and communicating with a child who has attention or sensory challenges can be difficult. Below are strategies for strengthening communication with your child. 

1.Recognize when your child is hearing you and paying attention. Most people require eye contact to know that they’re being heard. However, a child with ADD or ADHD has a mind that is operating at a fast pace. They may not be able to make or maintain eye contact with you. This doesn’t mean that they’re not listening. On the contrary, many children fidget with objects when they’re listening. Pay attention to your child’s cues. 

2. Give them short and simple directions. Children are easily overwhelmed. When you’re teaching them something or asking them to perform a task, give them step-by-step instructions. However, don’t lay out all the steps at once. Give them one or two simple steps and then move on once each step is completed. 

3. Create communication strategies. You may need to get creative when trying to communicate with your child. For example, introduce a ‘listening ball.’ Instruct your child to hold the ball or toss it from hand to hand while they listen to you. You can also use visual cues to indicate what you want or need your child to do. When it’s time for bed, show them a picture of a bed or give them the stuffed animal that they sleep with. 

4. Give them choices. Children learn to quickly tune their parents out, especially when they perceive that you’re talking at them rather than to them. However, when you give your child a choice, it’s easier for them to listen. They often allow themselves to slow down and weigh the choices so that they can make the most appealing decision. For example, when it’s time for bed you might say, “It’s time for bed. Which pajamas do you want to wear tonight – the red ones or the blue ones?” 

5. Use visual aids. Children with ADD and ADHD respond to visual aids. Instead of telling them what they need to do to get ready for bed, create a poster with a series of pictures demonstrating the steps.  

6. Talk softly and remain calm. As you become agitated or raise your voice, it can stimulate your child. This is the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish, especially if they’re already agitated or upset. Speak quietly to your child and remain calm. If they’re throwing a tantrum or are agitated, step away and engage in a quiet activity that they may find interesting. Build a tower with blocks, color, or work on a puzzle. Your calm can and will influence them. 

7. Explain your expectations. When your child knows what is expected of them and what they can expect, they tend to behave better. Rewarding positive behavior also supports future cooperation. 

Raising a child with ADD or ADHD requires some creative parenting. Learn your child’s cues and triggers. Observe their learning style and support that style in your communication. If you’re struggling, join a support group. Sometimes talking to other parents can help you not only cope but you can also pick up some new tips. 
 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog