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Take on sports! Thinking about getting your kid involved in a summer sport, but worried about the effects his ADHD may have? Teaching a child with ADHD can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Recent research from Longwood University has revealed the secret to keeping kids with ADHD engaged is keeping them active.

If your child has ADHD, it’s worthwhile to get them involved in sports. By taking certain steps when coaching kids, parents can ensure extremely effective results. Dr. Matthew Lucas, a professor of physical and health education at Longwood University, has offered up some tips to ensure your child’s success.

1. Give clear, concise directions: Children with ADHD often have difficulty with details. The solution? Maintain eye contact to hold their attention, and give clear, concise directions with as few details as possible.

Dr. Lucas says: “Get down to their eye level and start slowly. Start a basic game of catch, and after a few times, say ‘after catching the ball, run to the base.’ After doing that a few times, instruct them to catch the ball, run to the base and back. Keep building onto steps once you know your child has caught onto the previous instructions.”

2. Simplify the steps: Trying to explain the complex rules of baseball to a child who has difficulty paying attention can sometimes lead to frustration. Skip the struggle and instead break the game down into chunks. Make a game out of running the base paths or having a catch.

Dr. Lucas says: “Sports are a basically a bunch of little activities done together. Done separately, these activities can be fun and easy to understand. Playing a game of ‘horse’ instead of a 5-on-5 basketball game can be an uncomplicated way to get your child moving and introduce them to organized athletics.”

3. Provide encouragement: As any parent of a child with ADHD knows, kids get bored—and frustrated—easily. Parents who focus on the positive things can help their kids put the focus on fun.

Dr. Lucas says: “Praise, praise, praise! Consistent encouragement is essential. If your kid gets frustrated, try something different. Staying positive will keep them interested.”

4. Be consistent: Mixed signals are often difficult for children with ADHD to understand. They need to know what’s expected and how to play the game right, or they will get confused and frustrated.

Dr. Lucas says: “Be sensitive to the fact that you know how to play the game and they don’t. If you’re teaching an organized sport, start by teaching the fundamentals and sticking to the basic rules. If they already know the boundaries, they’ll be more likely to have fun!”

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