The symptoms of ADHD generally first appear in children aged 3-6 and the average diagnosis occurs about age 7. It is challenging enough to be a child in the confusing world of today, but imagine being a little one who has a raucous party going on inside his or her head most of the time. As a parent or caretaker, you can create an atmosphere of organization for the ADHD child in your care. Even when the orderly surroundings are unwittingly dismantled by that child, organization can be restored until it becomes the norm. It is wise to teach your child about organization and order early on, as it will become a useful coping mechanism for them in adult life. Here are some suggestions to help your youngster experience the calmness of structure in their world.
Set Realistic Goals & Break it Down
Support your child in being successful by setting achievable goals. Then break it down into smaller pieces. Say you want to organize the abundance of books and games in your home. Tackle only the books first and then on another day work on the games.
Make it FUN & Interactive
Nearly any task can be more enjoyable when everyone is involved and it is infused with an element of playful fun.
This one is probably sage advice for any parent, but even more so for the parents of children with ADHD. Everyone will experience greater success when the goals are realistic and attainable.
Prepare the Night Before
Whether it is a play date, a school day, or an outing, having everything ready the night before will avoid chaos and craziness the next day.
When your child does well in organizing, even in some small way, re-enforce that desired behavior with a special treat, a hug, and even an enthusiastic “Atta girl” or “Atta boy”.
More Tips for School-age ADHD Kids:
Have Ample School Supplies on Hand
In case your child forgets those much-needed supplies at school or at home when needed at the other location, have extras on hand. Also, it is a good practice to keep duplicate copies of school notices, permission slips, and the like.
Write Down Assignments
Coordinate your efforts with the teachers and make certain all homework assignments are in writing, including the due dates. Keep a copy at home for supportive follow-up.
Visual Filing System
Those with ADHD are typically stimulated visually. Use this trait to your advantage by helping your student create a filing system with bright cheerful folders. You might even do this for the wee ones. Bright stickers on folders could grab their attention. For older kids, add symbols and colorful art that is appealing to their age group.
How Much Time?
Encourage your son or daughter to allow substantially more time than they would initially allocate for those homework projects. Help them form realistic time frames for their projects.
Sequential is Good
It can be extremely helpful for ADHD kids to learn how to think sequentially, which does not come naturally for most. Do activities and play games that move in both forward and backward sequencing.
Old-school giant desk blotter type calendars can be useful for tracking upcoming events, appointments and, of course, homework assignments. A large calendar style whiteboard can also be used. Again, the visual clues are a great stimulus.
Make it a habit to help your child clean out and re-organize their backpacks and notebooks in preparation for the next school week. For older students, urge them to do the same thing with their school lockers.
Be a Cheerleader
Even if you are seeing only baby steps of progress in your child becoming more organized, share the accolades. Positive reinforcement will very likely generate even more positive behavior.