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The Freeze Game

Hyperactive children do not sit in chairs very well. For young children with ADHD symptoms, sitting quietly in a chair can be a nearly impossible task. However, just like most behaviors, sitting in a chair can become a learned behavior. This means that with practice, children can learn how to do it.

This technique works with the most hyperactive child to the moderate or mild child with ADHD symptoms. It will not work when a child is engaged in a temper tantrum or experiencing rage.

This technique is best played as a game. The game is seeing how long the child can sit in a chair without moving. This game can be played four times a day or a minimum of once a day. Try to play the game every day of the week, until mastery has been achieved. Mastery is the ability to sit 20 minutes without moving.

For children with severe problems, the game initially may only last five seconds. Instruct the child to sit still as long as possible without moving a muscle.

Step by Step: The Freeze Game

1. Explain to the child the nature of the game. The rules are being able to sit in a chair without moving. The only movement allowed is comfortable breathing and normal blinking of the eyes. All finger movements, eye movements, fidgeting are outlawed. Some parents may wish to allow eye movements without head movements.

2. Have a timer or watch with a second hand. When the child begins to be frozen, start the clock.

3. When the child moves, stop the clock, record the time, and end the game. If two people are playing, the first person to move loses. If more people are playing, the last one to move, wins.

4. Next time the game is played, the goal is to beat the previous time.

5. At first only give verbal praises.

6. With time, you will need more rewards. Use rewards that the child really enjoys and that you do not mind giving.

7. Play the game often (four times per day is fine at first), once a day when the time exceeds 10 minutes. Play the game at least five out of seven days.

8. Keep playing the game, always trying to beat the previous record. The game ends when the child can reach 20 minutes on a regular basis. Rewards should be high when the amount of time gets towards 20 minutes.

9. Every six months, play the game again starting with step one and ending at step nine. This helps the child maintain the ability over time.

Exercise: The freeze game.

Time: no more than 20 minutes.

Recommended Frequency: four times a day at first, once a day when ability is 10 minutes or more.

Pretest: participant is unable to sit still longer than 5 minutes

Mastery: participant is able to sit still for 20 minutes

Equipment: a watch or timer or stop watch

Additional comments: Best to do this game when the child is not taking medication or coming off their medication (e.g., in the evening). If the child is responding well to the medication, there will be no need for the freeze game. If the child is not responding well to the medication, the freeze game should be helpful.

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