If you have a child with ADHD, it may feel like you should get a gold sticker (or two!) just for getting your kids up, dressed, fed and out the door in the morning. These simple, ordinary tasks that other families seem to take for granted may completely zap you and your child of energy and enthusiasm for the day.
The good news is that there are ways to help lessen your struggle – making schoolwork and everyday tasks more manageable. Here are a few curated tips to help things run more smoothly in your home and perhaps build your child’s confidence and feelings of accomplishment at the same time.
Dr. Joshua Essery, PsyD at Clarity Child Guidance Center stresses that prior to implementing any new strategies at home to first confirm “… accurate diagnosis and ensure that the difficulties are, in fact, due to ADHD and not a learning disorder or another mental health condition.” Dr. Essery emphasizes simple actions like “getting a clear schedule, organization, minimizing distractions and providing time intervals for long tasks,” are key when looking to improve your daily routine. We will go a little more in-depth on each of these recommendations below.
Parenting approaches that include clear and concise instructions help your child succeed. One technique to articulate your expectations is through a task chart. EmpoweringParents.com finds using a chart for morning, afternoon and evening tasks to be a very valuable strategy. These charts come in a variety of shapes, sizes and levels of depth. You may benefit from personalizing the chart to your child’s likes. As an example, some people add daily rewards, like extra LEGO® time, for a good day’s work. For reference, check out http://www.wonderfulwilly.com/daily-chart.htm
For many ADHD children, structure is vitally important. While one child may be able to work out math problems while watching TV, petting the dog and munching on popcorn, this type of “studying” won’t do for a child with an attention deficit. A clean workspace with only the items needed for the task at hand will help minimize distractions and interruptions. To ensure their focus is easier to maintain, make sure your child’s workspace is in a designated area with little noise and activity as AdditudeMag recommends. Dr. Essery points out that this is just one of many “environmental changes,” you can make at home, “so the child can function optimally.”
A little color can do wonders for your child’s organization and productivity. Many ADHD children are visual individuals and respond well to vibrant colors. Color coding folders and binders for specific classes and projects can help you and your child prioritize what needs to be done and when as AdditudeMag recommends. You could also color code according to the urgency of the assignment or project. Red being the most urgent, yellow items are tasks you have a little more time on and green are those projects that you can look at in a day or two.
Let’s face it; long assignments can be intimidating and overwhelming. Even for adults and children without ADHD. When things are broken down into manageable chunks, it makes the unapproachable, approachable. Tell your child that if they work continuously for 10 minutes, they can have play/free time afterwards. This cycle may need to be repeated a couple of times to finish up the day’s work. However, using a timer, instead of trying to force through and finish in one sitting will help elevate your child’s motivation. Dr. Essery also points out that, “sometimes one-on-one attention with prompts is also essential.”
By implementing these simple environmental changes, you should see some positive changes with your ADHD child’s task completion, and hopefully, your overall stress level as an ADHD parent or caretaker. If you are still having difficulty with homework and project and task completion, you may need to seek out professional help.