Executive Functions

Grease the Skids If Your Child Gets Stuck

Kids can get stuck without our support — so help grease the skids with these tips for helping kids with ADHD move forward smoothly.

A stack of clothes ready to go for the workday, allowing you to start the day strong and control your ADHD in the workplace.
A stack of clothes ready to go for the workday, allowing you to start the day strong and control your ADHD in the workplace.

Middle school kids with ADHD get stuck on certain tasks because they find it hard to prioritize or make timely decisions. Other kids can’t finish a task because they think it has to be done perfectly, when good is all that’s needed.

If your daughter gets stuck on things – getting dressed, say – because she’s not sure where to start, here are strategies to help move her forward:

  • Have her choose her outfit the night before, so that she isn’t racing the clock to get to school on time. The stress will contribute to her shutdown.
  • List all the steps for getting dressed on a piece of paper or poster board: 1) Check weather for appropriate clothing choices 2) choose top 3) choose bottom 4) find underwear.
  • Have her write down the steps, in sequence, for getting dressed: 1) Put on underwear 2) put on top 3) put on pants 4) get socks on 5) get shoes on.
  • You might find that color-coding her clothes – reds in one section, whites in another – will make decision-making easier.

If she gets stuck with other chores, use these same strategies to help her break it down into steps.


Perfect Is Overrated

Some ADHD children overthink things because they fear that they will make a mistake. Their perfectionism protects them from being criticized if they don’t finish an assignment. If perfectionism prevents your child from completing homework, try this:

  • Reassure him that everyone makes mistakes, and that it’s a necessary part of learning. Give him examples in your own life where you made mistakes, survived, and moved on. One tip to break the fear is to suggest he look at this first stab at homework as a practice run.
  • Work with him on approaching homework one step at a time instead of thinking about the big picture: 1) Pull out homework 2) read instructions 3) focus only the problem you’re working on 4) ask for help if you get stuck.
  • Write down sayings to take the pressure off: “Done is better than perfect” or “Good enough is fine!” or “What is the worst that could happen?” Show him that “the worst” isn’t bad.
  • Make sure your child is getting optimal treatment for his ADHD. Sometimes, medications trigger anxiety in kids, causing them to worry about things.