Organizing and time management are two of the hardest tasks for someone with ADHD. Just like we have to teach empathy with young children we have to teach them how to organize and prioritize.
When teaching kids to organize (since they really have no interest in this) you start with extrinsic rewards. This can be stickers, extra gaming time or money to get them motivated to organize or whatever the task is you want them to do. As they complete a task they will gradually start to learn that it feels good to have a clean organized room and then they will do it on their own to get that feeling.
I’ve actually spent hours in my son’s room cleaning out and organizing his toys. In education this is called scaffolding. You first start out with a lot of support and guidance and gradually provide less and less until they can do it all on their own. Kids have to see the process step by step before they cannot be expected to accomplish all the steps. I think sometimes as adults we forget (me included) that they are kids and we rush to get to the final steps and move too quickly.
By breaking the behavior or goal into steps children will be able to follow easier and be successful. It is very important to meet our kids where they are, not where you think they should be. I believe in high expectations, but they need to have the skills to go to the next level. If this is not intentionally taught chances are, they won’t do them.
For example, let’s say that your goal is to get your child to return their homework to school each day.
Step 1: Child brings their homework home. It should be in a folder that is organized. Don’t organize this for them. Take out all of the papers and ask them what to do with each paper. This will help them learn to “think” through the organizing process.
Step 2: Together set a time and place to do the homework. Ask them what they need to get it done and help them have it all gathered in one place.
Step 3: Mom or Dad checks over the work. This could be where you ask, “So what were you suppose to do here? What does this mean…etc. Let them TEACH you what they did. If you see a mistake don’t point it out rather ask questions that will lead them to discovering the mistake.
Step 4: When complete say, “Ok, now where could you put this so you won’t forget it in the morning?” Child places homework in the backpack while a parent looks on.
Step 5: There needs to be a trigger at school for the child to turn in homework. This might be written on the board, a teacher asking for it. Just something in the child’s routine that will remind them to hand it in. This can be decided with the teacher. And initially there may have to be a reward system set up until this behavior becomes a habit.
Remember, ask more questions and let your child take ownership of their learning and growing up.
Let me know if this works or if you have any questions about your child and dealing with ADHD or school in general. Val@ADDitudeCoaching.com.