Helping Your Kids Keep Organized with Childhood ADHD

Helping Your Kids Keep Organized with Childhood ADHD

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic disorder that begins in childhood and often persists into adulthood. Inattention can create difficulty with organization, which can pose problems in school during childhood and the teenage years.

Problems with organization stem from problems with executive functioning in the brain (i.e., the level of detail and the time it takes to complete the task). Learning organizational skills can help a child or teen overcome this obstacle. It can also be helpful with the other symptoms of attention deficit disorder, such as time management.

The NYU Child Study Center notes that some children have difficulty with organization, though the deficits are more severe in children with ADHD. But learning organizational strategies early can prevent the symptoms from interfering with productivity. Parents can play an essential role by teaching the child different techniques and monitoring progress.

For example, the parents and child can make a schedule for homework with due dates, and leave space for checking off the assignment when it is done. A homework schedule helps with other symptoms of ADHD, such as hyperactivity and impulsiveness, as it keeps the child on a specific routine.

Parents can use the schedule to make sure the child submits his assignments on time, and see if there are areas in which he is struggling. When making the schedule, part of it should be kept open to review assignments, as careless mistakes are also a symptom of inattention.

Besides creating a method to keep track of assignments, the child or teen also needs an area to work where the number of distractions are limited.

For example, the child should have a consistent place to do homework with all clutter removed. The study area should also be quiet. The child can also create a storage area to hold important papers for school, such as a binder labeled for each class. Parents should also encourage the child to pack his bag at night to prevent school work from being lost or left at home. Experts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also say that the child should also clean his desk at the end of the day to help maintain organization; this also encourages the establishment of a daily routine.

Since inattention can make it difficult for the child to do complex tasks, caregivers can help break tasks into steps and write out each step. This exercise also helps the child learn planning and follow-through. Leave room on the list to check off when a step is completed. When taking notes, the child should leave the page margins open to add more information when reviewing the material.

Parents should also consider the use of a reward system, which reinforces the child’s new organizational skills. Here are some ideas for ADHD behavioral interventions for the home that work and have been proven effective.

Parents should remember that a child’s or teen’s behavior takes time to change — it’s not going to happen overnight. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks, which are usually temporary in nature. Help be a cheerleader and positive support for your teen or child. You may find the results encouraging and beneficial, not just for your home life, but for your child’s mental health as well.

Homework can be a source of frustration and difficulty particularly for students with ADHD. As a parent, you can help lessen that frustration by creating an organized and comfortable space within your home for your child to do homework. This might be a kitchen table, desk, or even a floor mat. The best space is one where your child can be near you or another adult but yet have minimal distractions.

With a designated homework space, your child can get into the homework habit each time they sit down to do their homework. Your child begins to associate that space with being focused and productive and learns how to organize and structure his or her time and thoughts.

The following tips can help you set up the space:

  • Involve your child in setting up the space to help figure out what works best for him or her early in the school year.
  • Make sure your child has all the necessary materials to do his or her homework (paper, binders, calculator, rulers, pencils, pens and erasers) and, if possible, an extra set of school books for home.
  • Color-coded folders or ones with different patterns are very helpful in reminding your child what goes where. Some students find it helpful to have a folder for completed homework assignments that travels back and forth to home and school.
  • A portable homework station like a basket with supplies can help when your child prefers to study on a floor mat, a sofa, or at a table near you.
  • Remove or minimize things that distract or cause stress, such as facing away from the doors and windows or removing the television.
  • Keep pets in another room.
  • If possible find an open space or accessible room with good lighting. Although some kids like to do their homework on the floor, having an uncluttered table or desk available is a good idea.
  • Pick the space so that you can keep an eye on your child but do not hover over your child.
  • Provide a timer or a silent clock to help your child know the difference between work time and break time.
  • Your child may work better with predictable background noise or music without words than complete silence. Try it out with your child to see what works.
  • Some children work better if they are able to stand or move around/walk while doing activities such as reading, memorizing, or being quizzed. Try it out with your child to see what works.
  • Check in throughout the year to see what’s working for your child and if the space needs to be adjusted to help your child work better.

Additional Homework Tips:

  • Get your child a planner to record daily homework assignments and reminders.
  • Show your child how to file loose papers into specific folders (for example: math, reading, parent signatures, science, completed homework, and incomplete assignments).
  • Involve your child in setting up ways to organize their belongings, including the book bag, folders, binder, and assignments so they can keep track daily of their school work on their own.
  • Establish a designated homework time for each day (consistency is key!).
  • For younger children and older students who need extra help organizing, help them by going through their assignments with them. Show them how to read all the directions carefully:
    • Use colored pens or highlighters to highlight the main parts, questions, and instructions. Highlighters, colored pens, and sticky notes can also be used by the student to double check their own work.
    • Have your child re-read the assignments for better understanding.
    • Write important information down so your child can reference it again.
    • Divide big assignments into smaller ones.
    • Use a calendar to help plan for larger assignments this helps model how to plan and breakdown larger assignments.
    • Work on one section at a time.
    • Schedule 5–10 minute breaks to allow time for your child to move around and grab a healthy snack and drink to energize.
    • Work with your child to see when and how often breaks are needed.
    • Give positive feedback to show you are noticing his or her effort and perseverance.
    • Remain optimistic, patient, and hopeful. Take a break yourself if you need it.
    • Reward your child’s effort to continue trying his or her best with specific and concrete praise.
      • Instead of saying “good job,” say “I like how you kept trying even when the math problems became harder.”
      • Replace “you are doing great!” with something more concrete so they know what they are doing well “You went back to re-read the question to check your work that extra step was a great idea!”

      Dolin, A. (2010). Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools, and Solutions for Stress Free Homework. Advantage Books: Washington, DC.

      Low, K. (2014). Homework Help for Students with ADHD. About Health. Retrieved from:

      Zentall, S.S. & Goldstein, S. (1999). Seven Steps to Homework Success. Specialty Press, Inc.: Plantation, Florida.

      The information provided by CHADD’s National Resource Center on ADHD is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number NU38DD005376 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC or the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

      ADHD Symptoms in Children

      ADHD Symptoms in children include unusual hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness. While these behaviors are normal in children at times, children with ADHD have symptoms that are more frequent and severe.

      ADHD Symptoms: Hyperactive Kids

      • Fidgeting and squirming
      • Inability to sit still
      • Nonstop talking
      • Difficulty with quiet or calm activities

      ADHD Symptoms: Impulsiveness

      • Impatience
      • Difficulty waiting their turn
      • Saying inappropriate things
      • Interrupting others
      • Acting without regard for consequences

      ADHD Symptoms: Inattention

      • Being easily distracted
      • Difficulty focusing on tasks
      • Difficulty staying organized
      • Trouble completing homework or other activities
      • Struggle to follow instructions

      Clean Your Room! 8 Steps to Help Your Child Get and Stay Organized

      Clean your room! This single sentence is all but guaranteed to trigger a cascade of arguments in any family with an ADHD child. Kids with ADHD struggle with organization, and their apparent resistance to keeping their room clean causes tremendous stress and frustration for parents and kids alike. It's typical for a parent to send a child with ADHD off to clean his or her room only to check on him or her an hour later and find that nothing has been done. Or to have their child proudly announce that he or she has finished cleaning when in fact he or she has only picked up a handful of items off of the floor. Does he or she not see the mess? Does he or she not care that his or her parents are becoming frustrated and threatening to take away privileges if he or she doesn't clean up? Many parents start to wonder if the frustration and hassle is worth it. Maybe they should just pick their battles and let their child's room stay messy?

      If your child has ADHD and cannot seem to keep his or her room at least somewhat clean and organized, then there is a good chance that it&rsquos not simple defiance or lack of caring on your child's part. He or she might have a real weakness in skills related to organization. These kids get overwhelmed when asked to clean up a mess, they struggle to consistently put things away where they belong, or create a logical plan for organizing a space. While it can be tempting to ignore your child's messy room - and there is definitely merit in choosing to pick your battles &ndash your child will benefit in the long run if you help him or her learn the skills he or she needed to create and maintain a clean and organized room.

      1. Keep it simple. Avoid creating a complicated organization plan where multiple steps are needed to put away a single item. For example, avoid boxes with lids that stack on top of each other. Stacking boxes may seem like a simple solution, but in reality they require your child to complete multiple steps including taking down a number of boxes, lifting and replacing lids and replacing boxes in a neat stack (phew!). So, instead aim for clearly labeled, unstacked, lid-free bins that your child can toss things into with one step.
      2. Reduce the clutter. The fewer things your child needs to keep organized the more likely he or she is to keep his or her room clean. See my previous post for tips on helping your child get rid of stuff that they no longer need.
      3. Create a clean room checklist. While the phrase "clean your room" seems like a very clear statement to most adults, many kids don't actually know what this means! To them cleaning their room may literally mean just picking up a few items off of the floor, or shoving their clothes into their closet or tucking them away under their bed. Clearly define the meaning of "clean your room" by creating a clean room checklist. This checklist should be specific. For example: (1) all items are picked up off the floor, (2) clean clothes are on hangers or folded in drawers, (3) dirty clothes are in the hamper, (4) toys and books are in their spots on the shelves, (5) trash is in the trash can.
      4. Tackle only one section or checklist item at a time. The overall task of cleaning a room is overwhelming for most kids with ADHD. So, break it down into smaller chunks by asking your child to clean just one spot in his or her room (e.g., put away all of the toys that are in front of the bookshelf) or to complete one item on the checklist. Then, when they complete that task have them tackle another.
      5. Do it together. If your child hasn't been able to clean his or her room on his or her own so far, then he or she might need you to help him or her with the process until it becomes routine. Helping your child clean and organize can also help you identify and correct pitfalls in the organization plan that might otherwise derail your child.
      6. Take pictures. Take pictures of the organized space and attach them to your checklist. This will give your child a visual reminder of what a clean room should look like when he or she is finished. You can take before and after photos too so your child can see the progress he or she has made!
      7. Don't aim for perfection. Avoid setting the cleaning bar so high that it&rsquos out of reach for your child. Think about what your child's room looks like now and his or her current ability to keep things organized. What would you consider to be a reasonable, modest improvement from the current situation? That's where you should set the bar. Then once he or she has achieved that goal, consider aiming for a higher level of organization.
      8. Pile on the praise. Remember that the task of cleaning a room is hard for your child. Praise his or her hard work and his or her effort. Let them know how proud you are! The more you acknowledge his or her effort the more likely he or she is to clean his or her room again.

      Helping your child learn the skills he or she needs to keep his or her room clean and organized will definitely take some effort and planning at the start. But over time both you and your child will have fewer arguments and less frustration, and your child will learn skills that he or she will use for a lifetime.


      Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.


      Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit

      This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.

      5 Steps to Dealing with Difficult ADHD Behaviors

      Step 1: Accept That ADHD is Physiological

      You can’t begin to correct your child’s difficult behaviors until you acknowledge this truth.

      Children with ADHD largely struggle with executive functioning – the brain skills we all need to function in our daily lives. They include the ability to sustain attention, to organize and plan, to recall information, and to control emotions, among other skills. The prefrontal cortex – where attention, emotions, and behaviors intersect – is also implicated in ADHD.

      Children with ADHD are also about three years behind their neurotypical peers in terms of brain development, meaning that they are often asked to function at higher levels than their brains can manage.

      It’s these circumstances that bring about difficult behaviors that are often out of a child’s control. What’s more, these behaviors will still appear no matter how well-versed a child is in the consequences. Harsher punishments will not make a dent.

      Punishing a child with ADHD for difficult behaviors is ineffective and counterproductive because they don’t have the luxuries of regulating their emotions and behaviors like a neurotypical child would. Punishment only results in them feeling guilty and ashamed for what they couldn’t control. The guilt and shame can turn into frustration, defiance, and emotional outbursts — and they often do.

      The true meaning of the word “discipline” is to teach, not to punish. Teaching helps to shape behavior positively so that difficult, impairing behaviors are less of an issue.

      So how do we change problem behaviors and teach better ones without punishment?

      Step 2: Be a Detective, Not a Judge

      All behaviors serve a purpose. Problem behaviors are representative of an unmet need and, in ADHD’s case, can be due to impulsivity.

      Rather than act like a judge and issue punishment to your child after a problem behavior occurs, it is better to put on your detective cap and try to decode the root or cause of the behavior. Determining the unmet need behind your child’s difficult behaviors will give you the chance to meet the need and decrease the chances that the problem behavior occurs again.

      Problem behaviors can broadly be divided into two categories:

      • Chronic behaviors, which tend to happen at the same time and in the same situations. (e.g. refusing to go to bed or to wake up temper tantrums after getting off video games.)
      • Impulsive behaviors (e.g. your child hitting their sibling or having a meltdown out of the blue.)

      The next time a problem behavior occurs, take note of all its surrounding factors and context. You’ll come to find that your child’s most difficult behaviors can be traced back to these common causes:

      • They don’t know how to start the task and may not know how to ask for help.
      • They don’t understand the task and the finish point. If you tell your child to clean their room, they may not know what ‘clean’ looks like.
      • The task is too difficult. If your child is unwilling to do homework, for example, it might be that the work is too challenging, or that there’s too much to work through organizationally.
      • They need a transition time. ADHD is associated with time blindness. Telling your child they have five minutes left before stopping their video game is futile. You’ll have to “show” them what five minutes looks like so they can really understand.
      • They are overwhelmed with too many instructions and can easily forget multi-step tasks. They will need large projects ‘chunked’ up.
      • They could not control their impulsivity.
      • They are ashamed of their behavior (especially if they lied).

      Avoid assuming that the problem behavior is because your child is lazy, defiant, or because they simply want to “cause trouble.” No one, not even your child, wakes up with the intention of having a bad day.

      Step 3: PREP Your Child

      Once you’ve truly thought through the causes behind the problem behaviors, you’ll have to PREP your child to replace the bad behavior with a better one, or at least decrease its severity. PREP stands for:

      • Peaceful moment: It’s much easier to deconstruct problem behaviors when your child is calm and tensions aren’t running high.
      • Request good behavior: Ask your child open-ended questions to guide them to better behavior. If they are being disruptive during dinner time, for example, calmly ask them to remind you of the family rules. (Do we throw food? Do we interrupt one another?)
      • Explanation from your child: As your child answers your guiding questions, it will reinforce the information in their brain, allowing them to be more mindful of the situation.
      • Praise: Notice your child’s efforts toward better behavior and do your best to ignore problem behaviors (so long as they are not dangerous). Your approval and enthusiasm can be a great motivator to your child.

      Step 4: PREP Yourself

      It’s not easy to keep your cool as your child engages in difficult behaviors. At the same time, if we show them that we are annoyed, frustrated, and dysregulated, we are modeling these behaviors to them.

      As parents, we tend to skip checking in with ourselves and making sure we are at our best to handle tough, stressful situations. To be a good behavior detective and undo unhelpful notions of parenting, we need to be level-headed and fully present. We must PREP ourselves, too:

      • Pause before you react, and practice mindfulness frequently.
      • Recharge often and engage in self-care.
      • Evaluate situations where your child’s problem behaviors occur before you…
      • Proceed with next steps

      Step 5: RE-MAP Your Parenting

      Once you’ve prepped your child and yourself, you’re ready to RE-MAP what parenting and disciplining your child is really about:

      • Regard your child with an unconditional, positive assumption that they want to do well.
      • Externalize misbehaviors. Remember that the behavior is not their fault – it is caused by a brain difference.
      • Mistake Acceptance. Learn to view misbehaviors as mistakes. Provide your home as a safe place to make those mistakes so that they can be used as learning opportunities to PREP your child about what to expect next time. . Children with ADHD field lots of negativity and criticism every day. We may hardly ever stop to notice their efforts to fit into a neurotypical world – because it’s behavior we expect and typically do not reward. Praising your child often, even for the little things, will go a long way.

      Re-mapping in Action

      How can we use these parenting principles to address common situations at home?

      Behavior Problem #1: My child doesn’t want to do their homework

      • Prep your child
        • Check that they have everything they need for the assignment and that they understand what is expected of them.
        • Break up the homework to smaller chunks and provide breaks.
        • Talk to teachers about reducing the homework amount.
        • Regard: Assume your child wants to do their homework.
        • Externalize: Know that ADHD and other factors make it so that the task is the problem, not your child.
        • Mistake Acceptance: If your child doesn’t finish homework even if you’ve prepped them fully, accept this turn of events and move on. Learn from it and collaborate with your child on what might work better next time. Know that this is not the end of the world. (Things rarely are.)
        • Praise: Even if your child didn’t finish the assignment, recognize how long they spent working on the task.

        Behavior Problem #2: My child refuses to stop playing video games

        • Prep your child
          • Make sure they have clear guidelines around when they should stop playing.
          • Build in transition times.
          • Use a Time Timer or another visual aid to help your child see the passage of time.
          • Understand how video games work. Consider having your child stop after a segment or level attempt is completed as opposed to a specific time.
          • Regard: Your child doesn’t want to disobey you – they just really enjoy the video game.
          • Externalize: Your child may have trouble stopping due to the dopamine rush he’s getting with the game.
          • Mistake Acceptance: If they stopped playing well after you asked them to, ask them what happened and what can be done next time to make the transition off of gaming easier.
          • Praise: Even if they didn’t stop at the agreed-upon time, recognize if they were closer to the stop point than last time if their tantrum didn’t last as long, etc.

          Parenting a child with ADHD often involves a full reassessment and overhaul of everything you thought you knew about discipline. In following these steps, remember that it will take time to address problem behaviors, and that there will be mistakes along the way. Prep yourself as best as you can, but don’t be afraid to own up to your errors and apologize to your child and to yourself. At the same time, keep problem behaviors and situations in perspective – a messy room or missing homework is not the end of the world. In the end, it’s most important to create a happy, safe, and supportive environment for your child.

          The content for this article was derived from the ADDitude Expert Webinar Discipline with a Twist: How to Manage Challenging Behavior Problems in Children & Teens with ADHD [podcast episode #353] with Merriam Sarcia Saunders, LMFT, which was broadcast live on May 6, 2021.

          ADHD and Children with Hard Histories

          I love to spend time with my kids–I truly do! But can I also say that I often find myself dreading the experience of doing homework with my children? While I suppose it i s necessary , homework is not on my top ten list of “most fun family activities” and I’m guessing that I’m not the only parent that feels that way! However, when you are parenting c hild ren with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ), doing schoolwork can quickly shift from annoying ritua l to painfully frustrating .

          Why is schoolwork so difficult from children with ADHD ? Consider some of the hallmark symptoms of ADHD :

          • Difficulty paying attention , keeping on task, and following through
          • Trouble getting organized, leaving tasks unfinished, forgetfulness
          • Fidgeting
          • Avoidance of tasks that require sustained mental effort
          • Lack of focus, daydreaming
          • Low tolerance for frustration
          • Emotional turmoil
          • Trouble waiting their turn, interrupting

          Talk about a recipe for an unpleasant schoolwork experience! Naturally, the above symptoms lead to a great deal of frustration when trying to complete a task that requires child ren to control impulses, pay attention, and complete educational tasks that probably don’t hold their interest s . This video gives some tips on strategies you can utilize with your child to help with ADHD-affected schoolwork woes . K nowing the specific symptoms of ADHD helps us develop empathy for our children’s struggle s . So much of the difficult academic behavior needs to be reframed within the context of the ADHD diagnosis. We need to remind ourselves that it’s the disorder making the work difficult, not the child. Seeing ourselves as a member of our child ren ’s ADHD care team (rather than disciplinarian s ) when working on school tasks helps us not to feel at odds with our child ren , even when the behavior s stretch the bounds of our patience.

          But there’s another interesting angle of this issue to consider. According to a study by the CDC in 2015, children in foster care are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Many professionals in child welfare or who have fostered or adopted from the child welfare system have begun to recognize and be troubled by the overwhelming percentage of children in care that are diagnosed with ADHD. Could it be that the effects of childhood trauma could produce similar symptoms to ADHD, or ultimately lead to an ADHD diagnosis? Dr. Nicole Brown, while completing her pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, took note of the fact that many of the children who were diagnosed with ADHD also lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and chronic stress were common. She began to investigate further and saw something significant: trauma. She noted an overlap in the symptoms of complex developmental trauma and ADHD. The behaviors that stem from trauma could be mistaken for inattention. A dditionally, i mpulsivity could also be attributed to the fight or flight response in overdrive.

          Dr. Brown analyzed the results of a national survey about the health and well-being of 65,000 children and made some interesting findings. She discovered that children who had been diagnosed with ADHD had also experienced significantly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. In fact, children that had experienced four or more A dverse C hildhood E xperiences (ACEs ) were three times more likely to utilize ADHD medication.

          While the data is fascinating to be sure, it has been determined that there is limited scientific proof that trauma leads to ADHD. Some of the children in the referenced study could have been accurately diagnosed as having ADHD. However, the overlap of symptoms between trauma and ADHD is compelling. Dr. Brown’s discovery is an important one and should lead to careful screening for trauma by medical professionals in the process of evaluating for ADHD.

          What does this mean for us parents and caregivers of trauma-affected children who have been diagnosed with ADHD or are exhibiting symptoms of the disorder?

          We need to keep in mind that trauma symptoms can bear a strong resemblance to ADHD symptoms and that both issues can be present at the same time. We need to continue to focus on earning secure attachment with the children in our care. As our children experience felt safety and secure attachment, new neural pathways in their brains begin to form. The chronic fight/flight/freeze response that had been the default setting of their trauma-affected brains begins to ease and neurological healing can take place! You – the secure, loving adult – can help your child heal. That’s why Chosen exists – to help children heal from trauma by strengthening their families!

          We have been where you are in our own experiences raising children. Whether you are dealing with the daily struggle of completing schoolwork due to your child’s ADHD, or you are dealing with trauma behavior in other forms, please reach out to us. We are ready to help!

          Talk With Teachers

          Meet to talk about your child's needs and goals, and see what they can do to help them in class. This might include letting them sit in the front row and away from doors and windows. That can help them avoid distractions and stay focused. The teacher also can better see if they need a little help. Ask for access to the schedule. You may want to get a second set of books to keep at home too. Also, discuss varied teaching methods that can keep your child interested.

          Working as a team helps. It shows your child that the most important adults in their life have their back. Here’s how to build a winning parent-teacher team:

          Have face-to-face talks. Set up meetings early in the school year to talk about how ADHD affects your child. It’s different for everyone, and your kid’s situation is unique. Stay positive. Instead of talking about their problems, focus on what helps them. So avoid saying, “He never listens.” Replace that with something like, “I find that Johnny pays more attention when we’re in a quiet space and he looks me in the eye.”

          If you have any educational reports or plans, share copies with the teachers.

          Keep in touch. Check in regularly in person, by email, or by phone and ask about your child’s behavior and how they’re doing with schoolwork. Find out how much homework the teacher plans to assign each night. You may want to ask for extra help to make sure your child can finish all of their assignments, or for extra time on tests.

          Check teacher websites for upcoming tests or big projects. Ask for the teacher’s advice on how best to help your child organize and prepare well ahead of the due dates. This can head off a last-minute meltdown for you and your child.

          Be tactful. Choose your words carefully so you don’t put a teacher on the defensive.

          Instead of: “Why aren’t you helping Johnny finish his class assignments in school?”

          Try this: “I’m concerned that Johnny needs to finish classwork at home. Is there anything we can do to help him work more quickly at school?"

          Don’t take things personally. You may get calls saying your child’s disrupting class or not paying attention. Don’t lash out at the messenger. Instead, say that you know your child often is a handful, and talk about solutions to the problems. Simple things like changing where they sit or giving them directions one task at a time may help.

          Keep teachers in the loop. If you start or change ADHD medication, tell the teachers and administrators. They can watch for side effects and let you know if medication seems to be helping. Also, let them know if there’s a big change at home -- like a divorce or death -- since these kinds of things can affect any child’s behavior.

          Set shared goals. Many ADHD symptoms affect your child inside and outside school. If following directions is a problem, brainstorm with the teacher about ways to help them stay on track that you can use both at home and in the classroom. Using the same tools creates a link between school and home.

          Be organized at meetings. Parent-teacher conferences are usually short, so come with a list of questions so you don’t forget to ask something important. Organize report cards, test results, and teacher notes in a binder so they’re at your fingertips.

          Pitch in. Attend back-to-school night and volunteer to chaperone a field trip or help in the library. That will show the teacher and your child that you’re plugged into the school. And you’ll get a first-hand look at how your child interacts there.

          Say thank you. When a teacher goes the extra mile to understand and help your child, write a simple note showing your appreciation.

          It’s also a good idea for your child to have a schedule for the day, and a written behavior plan -- which encourages positive actions -- posted on a nearby wall or on their desk.

          Does Your Teen Have ADHD? Help Your Child Stay on Track in School and in Life

          Fact: For the child with ADHD, the teen years are doubly hard. That’s because all the adolescent problems—peer pressure, the fear of failure both in school and with peers, low self-esteem—are harder for the ADHD child to handle. The desire to be independent, to try new and forbidden things—alcohol, drugs, and sexual activity—are ways that many teens with ADHD self-medicate. Given this, you may wake up one morning to realize that the household rules that have been working for years seem to no longer apply.

          Know that now, more than ever, rules should be straightforward and easy to understand. Clear communication between you and your teen with ADHD is vital. Make sure they understand the reasons for each rule. In other words, when a rule is set, it should be clear why the rule is being established. Sometimes it helps to have a chart posted in the kitchen that lists all household rules and all rules for outside the home (including social behavior and school).

          When rules are broken—and they will be—respond to this inappropriate behavior as calmly and matter-of-factly as possible. Use punishment sparingly, but let your teen face the consequences of his or her actions. Even with adolescents, a time-out can work, though you might want to call it something different. Impulsivity and a hot temper often accompany ADHD a short time alone can help.

          Know that as your teenager spends more time away from home, there will be demands for a later curfew and use of the car. Listen to your child’s requests, give reasons for your opinion, and then listen to his or her point of view and negotiate. Communication, negotiation, and compromise will prove helpful.

          I believe parents can help their teen with ADHD function successfully by coaching them in the following ways:

          • Help your child get in the habit of using a daily planner for assignments and appointments. Kids with ADHD have a harder time than most adolescents keeping organized and together. Get a good daily planner and work with your child to make sure they are following the school schedule and tasks listed.
          • Teach your child to make lists. Making lists is a great way for your pre-teen or teen to be organized and develop stronger self-esteem as they check off each completed item.
          • Help your child keep a routine. This particularly helps kids with ADHD to rewire their thinking patterns through daily training.
          • Set aside a quiet time and place to do homework. More than most, adolescents with ADHD need time to unwind and get away from outside stimuli. A quiet, uncluttered space will help their brain function and cognitive ability and gives them the energy to focus.
          • Role model being safety-conscious. Kids with ADHD are more prone to accidents and injury. Make sure that you make safety a top priority in your house. Wear seat belts, use protective gear for sports, etc.
          • Encourage your teen to talk about problems with you. Low self-esteem issues are prevalent among kids with ADHD. Keep the lines of communication open and listen to what they have to say.
          • Make sure your child with ADHD is getting enough sleep. It is critical for those with ADD and ADHD to get enough sleep each night in order to function. Talk with your child’s doctor about the appropriate amount of sleep for your child.

          One last word of advice. Although your child most likely has been evaluated periodically through the years, adolescence, with its raging hormones and physical changes, is a good time to have your child’s doctor do a complete re-evaluation of their health.

          Set up a Homework Station

          Kids with ADHD need a predictable routine for homework. Set up a special spot where your child does homework every day. Make sure it's away from pets, siblings, and noisy distractions, like the TV or the front door. Keep it stocked with pencils, paper, and any other supplies your child might need. But be careful not to overstock. Extra pencils and pens can become distractions.

          An alternative to nagging

          First, we recommend that parents work hard to avoid yelling at kids or nagging them, because this only works temporarily—while using firm but pleasant requests helps kids to be more cooperative immediately and in the future. Rather than catching kids’ mistakes and providing harsh requests, we recommend changing directives into “positive prompts.”

          What are positive prompts? A positive prompt is simply a pleasant request with some honest encouragement. Children are really no different from other people—they like to be treated with respect and good manners. A request starting with “please” and followed by “thank you” when the task is completed makes children more willing to do as they are asked.

          This may sound Pollyannish, but respecting children and praising their efforts does lead to improved behavior, as noted in the work of experts such as Russell Barkley, an expert on ADHD, and Alan Kazdin, the former president of the American Psychological Association. My research team has found that parents using positive prompts, and teaching children new skills in managing their lives at home and at school, can help children to grow into more responsive, responsible kids.

          Our studies show that even the kids who struggle the most can improve. In fact, children with the greatest deficits in organization, time management, and planning made large improvements that contributed to two wonderful outcomes: Their school work advanced, and the parents and children experienced significantly less conflict. Critically, in one large study, the benefits lasted into the next school year.

          How can you start building improved organizational skills with positive prompting? It’s quite simple. Here are some of the guidelines we recommend.

          This essay is adapted from The Organized Child: An Effective Program to Maximize Your Kid's Potential—in School and in Life (The Guilford Press, 2018, 206 pages).

          1. Move close to your child. Don’t yell a prompt from the bathroom to your kid’s bedroom. If you do, your child is more likely to ignore you, making this a wasted reminder.

          2. Get your child’s attention. Make eye contact! If they are texting or playing Minecraft, they won’t hear you.

          3. Ask for one thing at a time. If you give your child multiple reminders at once, odds are that she will forget at least one of them. Focus on what’s most important for that day.

          4. Be clear. “Please put your homework folder in your backpack” (vs. “pack up”).

          5. Use a positive, encouraging voice. It’s difficult, we know! But try your best to keep the frustration out of your voice. Try taking three deep breaths (and a slow sip of coffee) before speaking.

          6. Don’t nag! When you nag your child, especially about something you’ve nagged him about before, it is quite likely that all your child hears after the fifth or sixth time is “blah, blah, blah.”

          7. Stick with the present forget about the past. “Please pack your lunchbox” (vs. “Let’s see if you can remember your lunch today, unlike yesterday”).

          As your child becomes more comfortable with a specific behavior, fewer prompts will be needed. But don’t taper them off until you notice a change in your child’s behavior. Prompts and praise are useful until the behaviors become habitual. Too often, parents expect kids to get it right the first time, but waiting until the behavior is ingrained is key to success.

          After you become skilled in using positive prompts and praise for simple tasks, you can learn to encourage higher-level organizational skills in your kids, too. After determining what they need to manage their routines and handle the organizational demands at school—such as writing down assignments, getting the right materials and books home and back to school, and improving time management—you can use positive prompts and careful guided instruction here, as well. Parent-child interactions are critical to teaching lessons that stick with children, putting them on a path to success.

          We all want to help our children be more organized—and we want to maintain our close bonds. Using positive prompts is one of the ways to do that. By understanding how to prompt positive behavior in our kids, we can preserve our peace of mind and theirs.

          The tools for turning rough mornings into pleasant ones are in our hands.

          Watch the video: Τι γίνεται στο μυαλό ενός παιδιού με ΔΕΠΥ In the mind of a child with ADHD (May 2022).