Raising a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an ordeal that can only be truly understood by those who’ve gone through it. Everyday life can feel like a whirlwind.
You told him to wash up and join the family for dinner, and he’s still cartwheeling from the couch to the coffee table, oblivious to your instructions. You may notice his backpack is constantly disorganized with school papers and notices.
When teaching organization to children with ADHD, the challenge can feel like a mountain to climb. With proven strategies to help struggling families, this blog will provide approachable ways to help teach organization to your child with ADHD.
Disorganization in Children with ADHD
He comes home from school, empties his backpack in search of something vitally important, and then marches off, leaving his things scattered everywhere, even though you’ve told him time and again to hang up his coat and bag when he comes home!
It’s normal if this frustrates you as a parent and if it often feels like you are talking to a wall most of the day.
It is also normal for children with ADHD to struggle with the symptom of disorganization.
It can be difficult, but before trying our strategies, you will need to try to let go of the anger and frustration. Your child might seem uncaring and unreachable. In reality, once he feels you’re trying to help and connect with him out of love and care, you are already halfway there or more!
ADHD Strategies for Organization
The real fun begins once you can approach your child with calmness and a plan. You’ll be able to enter the mind of your child, who seems so scattered and chaotic, and teach him or her some organizational skills.
6 Tips for Teaching Organization to Children with ADHD
- One directive at a time.
Try giving your child instructions with one directive at a time.
For example: rather than saying, “Please come inside, wash your hands, put your coat and bag on the hook, and then come and sit nicely by the table, and we will have a snack.”
Direct your child to hang up his coat and bag; once that’s complete, wash hands, and only then come sit and eat.
- Write it down!
When you write down your instruction to your child, it creates a visual and tactile cue to help them remember what exactly they were supposed to be doing.
- Teach your child to repeat the instruction to him/herself until it is complete.
For example: if your directive was “Please hang up your bag and coat,” teach your child to repeat to herself ‘hang up bag and coat, hang up bag and coat…’ until that bag and coat are on the hook! This is a skill that your child can implement in many different areas–both at home and at school.
- Provide necessary supplies.
For example: labeling drawers for different items, such as pencils, pens, paper, towel, bathing suit, etc., will help your child have a clear place to reach each item. At home, name tags for different siblings for a place to hang coats and put shoes away will help provide your child with a clear direction for organization.
- Ask your child’s teacher for scheduled organization time for your child.
Example: a regular time each day or week that your child can organize and clean out his or her desk at school. Your child will likely need supervision and guidance to complete this chore. Guide your child, working with his or her teacher, so that clear steps can be repeated again and again until habits form.
- Establish a reward system.
Example: a fun and simple sticker chart or chore chart on the refrigerator can do wonders for your child! This will give them a fun incentive when they complete an organizational task. If they earn enough stickers, let them choose how they’d like to spend time with you or pick out a new toy or book as a reward.
Tips for Children with ADHD
Coaching and guiding your child in strategies for organization can help your child establish positive habits that will carry them into adulthood.
At BLOOM, one of our missions is to ensure that each child attains the best possible results and can maintain the best possible performance from childhood to adolescence and into adulthood.
With online resources and easy-to-access online courses, BLOOM walks alongside parents as they help their neurodivergent children tackle the world around them. Discover BLOOM’s extensive array of courses, including Attention, Aggression, Anxiety, Impulsivity, Emotional Control and Regulation, and more.