That feeling of “Oh, I’ll just do it tomorrow”, otherwise known as inertia, is particularly strong among those with ADHD. Your child may show little difficulty at sticking to a task once they get going but, boy, it is often hard to get them going in the first place. Of course, no one is to blame here. As Anna Dafna, our most recent podcast guest, made clear, people with ADHD suffer from impaired executive functioning, a term which refers to processes such as planning ahead and organising one’s time. You can think of this difficulty with executive function like friction – for those with ADHD, getting started on a project requires that extra little push.
So, you can imagine that setting New Year’s Resolutions often proves tricky for children with ADHD. Nonetheless, it is an extremely beneficial exercise, as it trains their executive function and boosts their confidence as they prove to themselves that they can fulfil complex, future goals. That said, you can’t expect your child to do all the work, and you might be feeling a bit lost about how to give them the help they need. Luckily, we at Kanjo have you covered with our top tips on how to set New Year’s Resolutions for a child with ADHD.
1. Don’t begin writing the list on an empty stomach
This piece of advice is actually applicable to all of us, but it is especially relevant when it comes to helping children with ADHD. Like a car, the brain needs fuel to carry out complex functions at peak performance. And you want the best fuel – to go on with the analogy, you want your child’s brain to run smoothly, not trip and splutter. So, before sitting down with them to write up their New Year’s Resolutions, make sure they have eaten a nutritious meal, are well hydrated and have had plenty of sleep.
2. Don’t just set goals – plan how they can be achieved
Again, this is another useful tip for all of us, but particularly so for children with ADHD, who suffer acutely with planning and organising. Separating the planning from the doing can help immensely. You will find that your child will find it far easier to plan and then do, rather than plan and do at the same time.
3. Start small
Don’t go off to Everest before you can climb your local hill. This analogy rings true when it comes to goal-setting in children with ADHD. If you raise the bar too high, you are only setting them up for disappointment.
4. Remove obstacles to achievement
This tip is useful both when devising the list and when your child begins to carry out their new habits. Children with ADHD often struggle to disengage from a distracting environment, which makes carrying out new habits even harder. You can reduce that friction by decluttering your home and eliminating distractions like phones. For example, if their New Year’s Resolution is to take the bins out on a certain day every week, don’t leave dirty dishes around the house on that day. Help them by placing all the trash in one place, putting their phone away, and congratulating them upon their return. It’s all about the path of least resistance.