29 August 2023

Supporting Students with ADHD and Anxiety in the Classroom: A Mom's Strategy for Success

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red apple fruit on four pyle books
red apple fruit on four pyle books

As a mother of a child with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety, my journey through the educational system has been both challenging and rewarding. Over the years, I have learned invaluable lessons about how to support my child in a classroom environment. In this article, I'd like to share my experiences, insights, and strategies for helping children with ADHD and anxiety thrive in the classroom.

Understanding ADHD and Anxiety

ADHD and anxiety are two common neurodevelopmental disorders that often co-occur. ADHD is characterized by symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, while anxiety is marked by excessive worry and fear. These conditions can significantly impact a child's academic performance and overall well-being. To support children with ADHD and anxiety in the classroom, we must first understand these conditions.

Build a Supportive Network

One of the most important lessons I've learned as a mother is the importance of building a strong support network. This network can include teachers, school counselors, therapists, and other parents who may have similar experiences. By establishing open lines of communication, we can work together to create an environment that is conducive to our children's success.

Effective Communication

Clear and open communication is essential when dealing with a child's ADHD and anxiety. Informing teachers and school staff about your child's specific needs and challenges is crucial. Share relevant information, such as your child's diagnosis, any medications they may be taking, and any specific triggers for their anxiety. I found it helpful to create a "User Manual" for my child, detailing their individual needs and preferences.

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

In many cases, children with ADHD and anxiety may benefit from an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). These plans outline the specific accommodations and modifications that a child needs to succeed in the classroom. Work closely with your child's school to develop an IEP that addresses their unique challenges and strengths. This document can serve as a roadmap for teachers and support staff.

Encourage Self-Advocacy

Teaching your child self-advocacy skills is a powerful tool in helping them succeed in the classroom. As my child got older, I encouraged them to communicate their needs to teachers and peers. This fosters independence and helps build confidence.

Classroom Strategies for ADHD and Anxiety

Now, let's explore some classroom strategies that have proven effective in supporting children with ADHD and anxiety.

Clear Routines and Visual Schedules

Consistency is key for children with ADHD and anxiety. Teachers can help by establishing clear routines and providing visual schedules. Knowing what to expect each day reduces anxiety and improves focus.

Break Tasks into Manageable Steps

Breaking assignments and tasks into smaller, manageable steps can help children with ADHD and anxiety feel less overwhelmed. This approach also aids in maintaining focus and motivation. Teachers can use visual aids, checklists, and verbal reminders to facilitate this process.

Seating Arrangements

Where a child sits in the classroom can make a significant difference. Children with ADHD often benefit from sitting at the front of the classroom, away from distractions. On the other hand, some anxious children may feel more comfortable sitting in the back to avoid the pressure of being in the spotlight. Work with the teacher to find the best seating arrangement for your child.

Sensory-Friendly Environment

Creating a sensory-friendly classroom environment can benefit children with ADHD and anxiety. Soft lighting, fidget tools, and noise-cancelling headphones (we love these Zohan Headphones https://a.co/d/iUnbtpo) are just a few examples of accommodations that can make a difference. Consult with your child's teacher to explore these options.

Flexible Breaks

Children with ADHD may need frequent breaks to release excess energy and maintain focus. Incorporating short, structured breaks into the daily schedule can be highly beneficial. These breaks can also help anxious children relax and reduce stress.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can be a powerful motivator for children with ADHD and anxiety. Praise, rewards, and recognition for their efforts can boost their self-esteem and overall performance. Teachers should provide specific, timely feedback to acknowledge their accomplishments.

Peer Support

Encouraging peer support is another way to create a nurturing classroom environment. Children can be taught to understand and help their classmates with ADHD and anxiety. It promotes empathy and inclusivity, reducing the stigma associated with these conditions.

Managing Anxiety in the Classroom

Managing anxiety in the classroom is a multifaceted challenge. Here are some specific strategies to help children cope with their anxiety:

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Teaching children mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help them manage anxiety. Breathing exercises, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation can be incorporated into the daily routine. These 100 Daily Mindfulness Cards are amazing and quick! https://a.co/d/3Lsrx7H

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

Incorporate social-emotional learning into the curriculum to help children understand and manage their emotions. SEL programs promote self-awareness, empathy, and responsible decision-making, all of which can reduce anxiety. This Little SPOT of Emotions Plush set is fun a great learning tool! https://a.co/d/ccpbqLI

Stress-Reduction Strategies

Teachers can help children develop stress-reduction strategies, such as time management and organization skills. Providing resources and guidance for managing workload and deadlines can be invaluable.

Safe Spaces

Having a designated safe space in the classroom where a child can retreat when feeling overwhelmed is essential. This can be a quiet corner with soothing sensory tools (meet Twiddle, the anxiety plush! https://a.co/d/gw65FWO) where they can take a break and regain composure.

Peer Support

Encouraging peer support is beneficial for both ADHD and anxiety. Children can be taught to recognize when a classmate is experiencing anxiety and how to offer assistance, such as finding a teacher or counselor.


Supporting children with ADHD and anxiety in the classroom is an ongoing journey that requires collaboration, patience, and creativity. As a mother, I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact of effective communication, individualized education plans, and classroom strategies. By working together as a team, we can create a nurturing and inclusive environment where every child has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their unique challenges.

man and woman sitting on chairs
man and woman sitting on chairs

My hope is that this article serves as a valuable resource for parents, teachers, and educators, and that it encourages us all to continue learning and growing in our efforts to support children with ADHD and anxiety. Through compassion, understanding, and the implementation of these strategies, we can make a significant difference in the lives of these remarkable young individuals.

Supporting Students with ADHD and Anxiety in the Classroom

Anxiety and ADHD often go hand-in-hand. Proven strategies on how we can help children be successful in school.

8/29/20235 min read