Chores for ADD children
are the key to their success

The idea of expecting chores for ADD children might seem overwhelming and unrealistic, but I beg to differ. It's very important for easily distractible kids to have consistency and structure.

Click here for strategies to organize clothes. In general, though, here's a specific example with my 6 year old. Awhile ago I created a chore chart that included his evening chores. After dinner, he's supposed to put his plate in the dishwasher and clear off the bench. Then he's supposed to get his jammies on, put his clothes in the dirty clothes basket, brush his teeth, check the tidy-up basket and check his cleaning zone . When I think about it, that's a lot chores for ADD kids to manage independently. I would set the timer for 15 minutes and tell him (and his brothers at the same time so everyone's working together) to do their evening chores.

Night after night I would be surprised and frustrated that he would start his chores but then get side tracked and start playing with something, or even just lie on the floor and sing. Seriously? Here's how it would go down:

    Me: "What are you doing??"
    Him: "I don't know."
    Me: "Why aren't you doing your chores??"
    Him: "I don't know."
    Me: "Do you remember what you're supposed to be doing right now??"
    Him: "Ummmm huh?"
Night after night. What's the definition of insane? When you keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? That was me. Sooo, I tried a different tactic. Instead of setting the timer and doing something myself (getting on the computer or even doing chores of my own in the kitchen) I shadowed him to keep him focused. All he needed was a gentle guide and my modified expectations. If you have one like my precious little guy, here are other ideas that might help you:

Chores for ADD kids: 8 Tips for success

    1. Sympathize, don't blame
    Understand that your child isn't getting distracted on purpose. Read that again. Your child isn't getting distracted on purpose just to annoy and frustrate you. Your child simply has a different way of approaching the world and would benefit from more support from you, so give it to him/her.

    2. Prioritize your goals
    Create a game plan and figure out what's important in your family for your ADD child to contribute, and of course this will depend on the age of your child. Dressing himself? Clearing his plate? Putting his shoes away? Choose some tasks that would have the most impact on your household and start there. Remember to start small and choose the few most important tasks that will make a difference.

    3. Break the task into small parts
    For an easily distractible child, sometimes a task can seem overwhelming in it's parts. Chores for ADD kids need to be simple. A chore like "get dressed," should be broken down into "put shirt on," "put pants on," "put shoes on," etc.

    4. Make it easy to succeed
    When tasks are manageable, it not only helps your child stay on task; it also creates lots of little opportunities to succeed and feel good about the accomplishments.

    5. Supervise your child
    Don't blow this off! This is probably the most important step. Many ADD kids need almost constant support, or "scaffolding" to find success in chores and other multiple tasks. Even though it's more work and time for you, it's important to guide your child. If an extra ten minutes of your time will ensure completion and success--and also lessen your frustration and stress--then it's time well spent. 6. Don't expect independence too quickly
    Your child's success hinges upon your realistic expectations. It takes an average adult up to thirty days to establish a habit -- and that's with daily practice! Your easily distractible child might take a lot longer to become independent, so don't rush it and make sure you are there to guide him.

    7. Celebrate success!
    Remember that doing multi-step tasks is a challenge for your youngster! When he or she starts to do well, acknowledge their effort with verbal praise. You might even consider an occasional treat or outing to motivate your child.

    8. Reinforce with your reward chart
    Write down the few tasks on a reward chart so there is a visual reminder of your expectations for the child and for you. Chores for ADD kids should be simple and clear, so consider using a picture chore chart so kids can easily see what's expected of them.

You may already know that minimizing screen time is even more important for these special little ones than for other kids, so please limit tv and games. You also may be aware of the important link between behavior and nutrition, and the importance of avoiding artificial ingredients, sugar and (of course) caffeine. My youngest son presents some attention deficit disorder characteristics, so I feel your pain.

ADD kids present unique challenges for themselves and for the people around them. Stop battling and start working with them! Scaffolding chores for ADD kids helps them to become more responsible and teaches them to overcome some of their natural ADD challenges. Give it a try!

What is your biggest frustration right now?

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