10 Ways to Build a Healthy Routine
Kids with ADHD do best with structure and routine — this is a fact. But it’s also true that kids resist and fight structure when it’s new. To build up the skills your child needs to follow a healthy daily routine, follow these 10 rules.
Need help setting up routines for your kids? Follow our checklist to create easy-to-follow structures that help your child grow and learn.
1. Give specific instructions. “Put away the toys on your carpet on the shelf in the closet.” Be consistent — if the toys are stored on the shelf one night, they should be put there every night. Children need to know precisely what you expect.
2. Assign tasks that your child is capable of doing on his own. Success builds confidence. The goal is to teach your child to do things independently.
3. Involve your child in discussions about rules and routines. It will help him understand goals and teach him to accept responsibility.
4. Write down routines as sequences of tasks (two to five items only), and post where easily visible (refrigerator, bathroom mirror). Review lists regularly with your child.
5. Be realistic about time. Make sure you’ve set aside enough time for the child to complete his homework, clear the dishes, and get out the door in the morning. If the original time frame is leaving you five minutes shy, add five minutes.
6. Expect gradual improvement. It takes time to change old habits and form new ones.
7. Praise effort — not just results. If your child set the table but forgot napkins, acknowledge that she’s trying. Reward good behavior more often than you punish bad.
8. Allow for free time in daily routines. Kids — and adults — need downtime.
9. If your child isn’t taking to the routine, seek help from a counselor who specializes in ADHD. A pro can help get you on track.
10. Stay focused on the long-term goals. Above all, don’t give up!