The ability to set a goal and to work toward it without being sidetracked is critical to an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) child’s success at school. A first-grader can complete his classwork to get to recess. A teenager can earn and save money over time to buy something he wants. This is one of the last executive function skills to mature, and parents and teachers often become impatient with kids as it develops. Until goal-directed persistence kicks in, youngsters will be influenced mostly by the here and now. If a child hasn’t grasped that homework affects report card grades, which affect the college he will attend and the job he will get, then he will be drawn off-task by anything of immediate interest.
Reaching Goals in the Classroom
Ask students to set small, achievable goals. “I’m going to see if I can finish my math paper with no more than two mistakes” or “I’m going to keep my hands to myself in line on the way to lunch.” The specific goal is less important than the act of setting it. Help kids make early goals small and realistic, so they can experience success.
Demonstrate goal-setting. “Today I’m going to work on noticing when kids are working well,” you might tell them. “Can you catch me doing that? Why don’t you give me a thumbs-up when you hear me making a positive comment to someone about the work they’re doing?”