Establishing house rules can help relieve stress for the whole family.
Weekday mornings and evenings are hectic for any family. If your child has ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, these frantic times may have even more challenges.
Children with ADHD generally have deficits in executive function: the ability to think and plan ahead, organize, control impulses, and complete tasks. For example, they may dilly-dally when they should be getting dressed, or maybe they can’t find their homework because they didn’t put it away the night before. “This is where parents can really come into play and help them,” says Preeti Parikh, MD, chief medical officer at HealthiNation and pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Establishing house rules, structure, and consistent routines can not only help alleviate these stressful moments, but they’re also very important to help shape the behavior of children with ADHD.
How to Build a Healthy Weekday Routine
Because your child may have trouble with executive functioning, you may take over as the executive while your child gradually acquires these skills over time.
1. Organize your home. “Limit how much stuff is in the room, because clutter can cause a lot of distraction and anxiety and feeling like you don’t have things in control,” says Dr. Parikh.
2. Have a home for your child’s things. If your child has specific places for his or her schoolwork, toys, and clothes, he or she is less likely to lose them. “Have a place in their bedroom where their backpack will be and their homework assignments will be,” says Dr. Parikh.
3. Help your child stay on task with checklists. “Every Sunday, come up with a plan for the week and go through what is due this week,” says Dr. Parikh. “The more they have an understanding of their schedule and the structure that’s in place, the better.”
Also important: It is good to avoid too much idle time, but a child with ADHD may become more distracted and “wound up” if there are too many after-school activities. “Trying to find the balance is important,” says Dr. Preeti.
4. Encourage your child to do activities that they enjoy and can do on their own. The goal is to teach your child to do things independently.
5. Praise and reward your child’s efforts—not just results. Offer kind words, hugs, or small prizes for good behavior or reaching small goals. “So if they got their homework done on time and they’re getting to bed on time, you can praise them and say, ‘Great job keeping to the schedule!’” says Dr. Parikh.
“Initially, when you start creating the structure and daily routine, especially if you’ve never had it before, you may get resistance, backlash, and frustration, but stick with it,” says Dr. Parikh. “In the long run, once everyone gets used to it and you get into this routine, you’ll see it makes everyone happier and feel much better.”
Dr. Parikh, a board-certified pediatrician affiliated with The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, is HealthiNation's chief medical editor.
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For children with ADHD, one of the biggest
hurdles is executive function.
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Meaning they can't really complete
tasks or get things done, focus enough.
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So this is where parents can really
come into play and help them.
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One area is environmental changes.
00:00:24,152 --> 00:00:29,450
So making sure the house is set up in
a way to help promote organization.
00:00:29,450 --> 00:00:34,042
Limit how much stuff is in the room
because clutter can also cause a lot
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of distraction and anxiety and
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just more feeling like you
don't have things in control.
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Have a place in their bedroom
where their backpack will be,
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where their homework assignments will be,
and so that's one area you can work on.
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The other area is helping them
with checklists and to-do lists.
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So every Sunday, come up with a plan for
the week, and go through what is due this
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week, what tests are coming up,
what after-school activities.
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Because the more they have
an understanding of their schedule,
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and there's a structure in place,
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Because then they see, okay,
I'm home at 4 o'clock.
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I have to get my homework done because
at 6:00, I have soccer practice.
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And also creating that schedule for not
just homework and after-school activities,
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but also helping them know what
mealtimes will be, brushing their teeth,
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taking a shower.
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Having all those to-do checklists can also
help, especially with young children.
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You also don't want to have too much free
time for them, or too much overscheduling.
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So try to find the balance with your
child to see where they actually
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have the perfect fit.
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Because you want them to be in activities
because it brings confidence if you find
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activities that they're good at.
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And also being positive and praising
your child when they do simple things,
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and smaller goals.
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So they got their homework done for
the night on time and
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they're getting to bed on time.
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You can praise them and be like,
great job of keeping to the schedule.
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Initially, when you start creating
this structure and daily routine,
00:02:00,960 --> 00:02:05,261
especially if you've never had it before,
you may get resistance and
00:02:05,261 --> 00:02:08,814
some backlash from your children,
00:02:08,814 --> 00:02:12,502
But just stick with it
because in the long run,
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once everyone gets used to it,
and you get into this routine,
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you'll see it makes everyone happier and
feel much better.
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Behavior Therapy for Children with ADHD. HealthyChildren.org. (Accessed on August 23, 2019 at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/Behavior-Therapy-Parent-Training.aspx)