How to Build Routines that Help Children Battling ADHD
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often have difficulty paying attention to tasks and are easily distracted. A firm and engaging schedule of routine tasks, with achievable goals, gives children with ADHD a system to aspire to and, in doing so, supports them with a coping mechanism.
This inability to focus on assignments that such children struggle with often leads to them making lackadaisical mistakes and producing school work that looks like it has been done without care or interest. They are easily distracted by the environment around them, and this restricts their ability to sustain any type of concentration for a prolonged amount of time.
The result of these traits leaves children who have ADHD struggling with schoolwork, home life and, as they grow up, a difficulty to settle into work. They can become disruptive and impatient as they try to cope with the instability of their rapidly changing focus. The inappropriate behavior that often follows is born out of their frustration in trying to overcome this mental obstacle.
A routine, in writing
A popular method to help children learn to focus is to give them a concrete routine to follow, preferably in written form. This schedule should list all the tasks a child needs to complete in a day. The plan gives them a guide to follow; something for them to return to in order to get back on track on if they lose focus.
Having those expectations in front of them, in writing, gives them a plan to follow and motivates them with a sense of achievement when they have completed their day’s tasks.
A parent or guardian could set tasks such as household jobs, table setting, dishes, and tidying up for example. Introducing fun treats if they complete all their tasks gives them a fun goal to work toward and a further sense of achievement if they reach it.
The tasks also empower the child with a sense of responsibility. With responsibility comes the fear of failure, a motivation in itself to stay focused and not suffer the guilt of defeat.
Short term goals can be rewarded with small and frequent nutritional snacks or free time outside to relax and let off steam. Both of these rewards help break up the daily routine in a fun and motivational way.
Small rewards given often help make the list of tasks not seem so daunting and the treats give the child a trickle of motivation to get them through the day.
To aid the implementation of a schedule of routine tasks it is a good idea to remove potential distractions from the environment that the child is in. For example, turn off the television or radio, close the blinds on a window, and remove mobile devices and make sure the devices are off or at least silenced. An environment free of distraction enhances and encourages the child to concentrate on the tasks on the schedule.
Creating a distraction free environment and implementing a schedule of routine tasks, is a sure way of building the confidence of a child with ADHD and teaching them skills that will aid them throughout the rest of their life.
HelpGuide.org offers valuable parenting (and many other) resources, including parenting tips for dealing with common ADHD challenges. Take a look at the HelpGuide article here.