The word “structure” is often thrown about a lot in different academic circles, notably when it comes to parenting children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but it’s essential to first define “structure” in a clinical sense before moving forward: A “structured” environment can be defined as one that is “organized and predictable,” so when there exists day-to-day routines and a daily schedule in place for children to follow, therein lies structure. Likewise, when house rules, expectations and consequences are consistently implemented and clearly understood by the child – and positively reinforced by the parent(s) – an environment that is “predictable” is created.
All children benefit from routines, and a great number of those kids boast the ability to structure things around themselves to develop good habits on their own. The situation takes on a different dynamic when talking about a child with ADHD, however, because of the ADHD itself – it must be understood that children suffering with ADHD grapple with the ability to regulate themselves (i.e. to stop indulging in certain behaviors while keeping their focus when a plethora of distractions are pulling them in different directions). This is precisely why teaching students with ADHD in the classroom becomes challenging.
The elements that comprise the core of ADHD symptoms typically lead to problems with self-control; as a result, children diagnosed with the problem require additional external controls (structured environment) in order to help them manage the symptoms. When these external controls are “built in” at home, there is a very good chance the child can experience more successes while teaching them good skills and habits along the way.