Changing activities can be hard with an ADHD kiddo. Their brain often sees time as ”now” or ”not now” Emotional regulation and impulse control can be a challenge. Here are some tips on how to achieve successful transitions with ADHD kiddos.
Plan WITH them
Kiddos with ADHD are often very smart. However, they lack the executive function skills to plan successfully. As a parent, sometimes it’s easy to just direct traffic rather than explain the process. However, kids with ADHD need lots of practice for life skills they will need as an adult. Knowing what is coming also helps them be more cooperative when it is time to change tasks.
AFTER I have consumed some coffee to start my day (night shift problems), I will often plot out the day with my kiddos. I make sure they (and I) know the required tasks that must be accomplished. If they have things they want to do, I let them know where that might fit if they accomplish ”must do” items first. Check out my post on positive rewards for time management here. This is also a good time to explain WHY a task must be accomplished if there is any objection. Make it positive if possible. Explanations like we shower because we want to smell good for our friends. Things may seem self explanatory, but a reminder that there is a good reason sometimes really helps. This helps eliminate later arguments when time is of the essence.
Keep it positive
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Some days, especially when we’ve been out of normal routines, it feels like I’m having to constantly nag to get anything done. I don’t like it, and neither do the girls. This is where things like this responsibility chart can be handy. Check out my post on how we use it with positive rewards here. Short term goals such as a short desired activity if time allows can be helpful too. Rather than fussing at them, I can just remind them of the desired activity.
Use visual cues for passing time
I often use this visual timer with Little Bit, particularly when we are on a tight schedule. She can see the time passing, and it is easy to point to the timer rather than reminding her how much time has passed. We also use this shower timer to help keep things on track in the water. It’s amazing the amount of creative games can occur otherwise.
Give a reminder
Particularly when changing from a desirable activity to a required activity, a reminder change is coming helps the ADHD brain make the transition when it is time. The exact timing of the reminder isn’t that important. However, bringing them to awareness that time is passing and a change of activity is coming allows them time to prepare for a transition.
Getting their attention
I have seen coaches get frustrated with Little Bit for not paying attention. They may have to call her name a few times before she responds. She has not idea they are even talking to her because her mind is elsewhere. Check out my post here on information for the coach of an ADHD athlete. Understanding what is going on in their brain helps communication be more successful. For Little Bit, it helps if I touch her gently and get eye contact to make sure she knows I am talking to her. It is important to do this the first time, with the reminder of upcoming change.
Avoid negative triggers
A little planning to ensure your kiddo doesn’t get too tired or hungry goes a long way. If those negative triggers are met, cooperation is likely to be less. I keep lots of non perishable snacks in the car at all times to have if schedules get off track. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to meeting happiness triggers regularly.
Have your grounding toolbox available when transitions are still hard
Check out my post here on grounding with senses. Wether its not possible to follow some of the tips here, or if its a particularly difficult change in activity, sometimes transitions are still hard. Even on the go, I keep a few things on hand to ground Little Bit is needed. Small items such as this pop-it bracelet, or this diffuser bracelet can help redirect out of control emotions. I carry some basic oils with us most of the time in this handy carrying case. Check out my post here on some of my favorite essential oils for ADHD.
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The content in this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is merely opinion based on personal research and experience.