Helping ADHD Children Adapt to Change

It's hard enough for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) to get organized and stick to schedules. Can ADD/ADHD kids also learn to adapt to change? Try these tips to help your ADD/ADHD child learn to adjust when routines change.

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Creating -- and Disrupting -- Routines at Home

Keep daily routines. Children who have trouble dealing with change are comforted by routines and feel less stressed when they are followed.

Give extra support for homework assignments that are open-ended. Some kids genuinely don’t know how to approach the tasks. Getting them started, or sitting with them to provide guidance when they get stuck, may be enough.

Reduce the complexity of tasks. Inflexible children panic when they think they won’t remember everything they have to do, or when they think they won’t succeed at what they’re expected to do. Breaking tasks into smaller steps will reduce the panic.

Use visual cues when changing a routine. If your child won’t be coming home straight from school during the next couple of weeks, have him draw pictures of the changes -- he might go to soccer practice or take guitar lessons first -- and arrange them to show the new schedule.

Disrupt the schedule in fun ways. To get kids used to unexpected change, introduce small changes into their schedule. Most kids are happy to go out for an ice cream sundae on a school night.

Give them coping strategies for changes that cause them the most upset. This could be as simple as counting to 10, walking away from the situation, or asking a specific person to intervene.

Give your child a script for unexpected change. Role-play the situation, with you playing your child, to show him how he can talk himself through it. Then have him play himself. Give him positive feedback about how he handled the situation. Practice role-playing briefly several days in a row, so that your child can learn the process.

Helping ADD/ADHD Children Build Routines and Adapt to Change

Top 10 Routine Builders: Organization Help for ADD/ADHD Children
Morning Routines for ADD/ADHD Children: Rise and Shine for School
Teaching ADD/ADHD Students: One Teacher's Success Story

Children--especially those with ADHD--do best when they have predictable routines to follow. Claim your free digital copy of A Routine That Works for an example. Plus, get email updates with more great ADHD parenting tips.

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