12 Ways to Help Kids with ADHD Get Things Done
They may understand the material and be capable of completing the assignment.
But “they often have significant weakness in their ability to get started, stay focused, plan and organize their work, monitor themselves to regulate their actions, and manage their emotions.”
Kids with ADHD may be up to 30 percent developmentally behind their peers — even though they’re of average or above average intelligence, she said. “It’s not a problem of knowing what to do — it’s doing what they know.”
They have an especially tough time completing tasks they find boring.
“Their brains are not as alert due to lower activity in the transmitters in the brain — dopamine and norepinephrine. They literally have a harder time paying attention or staying involved.”
But even interesting, enjoyable tasks can be challenging.
“Without a strong motivator, it’s hard for ADHD kids to get anything done — sometimes even if its something they really want to do.’’
Some parents make the mistake of trying to motivate their kids with threats and warnings or by taking things away.
Surprisingly, rewards don’t work either, “stress and pressure; even though it seems like positive pressure, kids often have a harder time thinking.” They end up shutting down.
Another common mistake is isolating your kids, restricting their movement and eliminating “distractions,” such as music. To kids with ADHD such distractions are actually helpful.
“It’s hard, but parents need to understand that their kids aren’t really avoiding work just to be rude or difficult, or disrespectful — they just don’t have a mechanism to get themselves activated.’’
However, parents can use various strategies to help engage their kids. Here are 12 to try.
1. Be radically compassionate.
Stressed the importance of practicing “radical compassion” with your kids. “It really is very hard for them to get activated, and then to focus, and then to sustain effort. That’s a huge amount of executive function required just to do one homework assignment.”
2. Focus on what really motivates them.
Again, motivation is critical for kids with ADHD. “There are five things that motivate the ADHD brain,” which are “novelty, competition, urgency, interest and humor,”
Also, focus on the individual things that motivate your kids.
3. Have them do something beforehand.
“Sometimes, let them do something fun before the homework, like read comics, and then get started,”
4. Work in bursts with breaks.
Let your child know they can work for a certain amount of time, and then get a short break. For instance, they might work for 15 to 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break.
“Your kids will often be able to concentrate deeper and work more efficiently in bursts.’’
5. Play sports while studying.
Play catch with your child as they review information. “Throw them a ball and have them throw it back when they know the answer.”
Or help them “learn spelling words or math facts while bouncing a basketball.’’
Movement in general is great for kids with ADHD. “A lot of these kids are kinesthetic learners, so they think better while moving.’’
6. Play games.
Playing concentration by printing two sets of flash cards and laying them on the floor.
7. Time them.
For instance, “set a timer to see how many spelling words a kid can write before the timer goes off.’’
8. Encourage their creativity.
Ask your child to invent a game to make studying more fun. “Let them be creative.”
9. Let them switch environments.
Let them do homework in different places.
10. Let them listen to music.
“Allow them to listen to music as long as it does not become their primary focus.’’ “Empower them to experiment with different genres to see what works best for them.”
11. Let them chew gum.
Any kind of chewing — including gum and crunchy snacks like carrot sticks — seems to help kids with ADHD concentrate better.
12. Seek an arrangement with their teacher.
“See if there are ways to modify the homework as needed by having an agreement with the teacher that gives you … some leeway as you see fit.’’
Your kids have already worked really hard during the day. “Many of the kids require extra time to get their work done — and extra time on homework is sometimes too much!”
If your child tried their hardest and worked a reasonable amount of time on their homework but didn’t complete it, sign a note informing their teacher. You might also inform the teacher of extenuating circumstances.
Completing tasks is really hard for kids with ADHD. Using various creative strategies can help.