Thursday 6 September 2018

Helping my son to focus on what he is doing

There is sometimes a misconception that kids with ADHD can't focus on anything.  With our lad at least, this isn't always the case. Anthony can actually super focus on some things of his choosing. Often his biggest challenge is being able to focus on the task at hand, on what he should be doing especially if it's something he's not interested in.
Obviously this can be challenging at school and focussing on his homework has been a long standing challenge that often just didn't happen in our home.  We do various things to help him with focusing on his education.  Anthony started on medication to help him last year and this has helped but he still needs more assistance and his medication isn't active in his system all the time.

He still has to be able to focus on eating his dinner, listening to instructions and even going to the loo without forgetting what he is supposed to be doing or getting distracted. This means he has his medication when he's not at school. But there's plenty of other things that can also help.


When Anthony is doing his homework we try to cut out all distractions for him.  It's not always easy - we have three kids and one who uses an iPad a lot of the time, but if there's a TV or radio on, or even a loud game happening nearby then he struggles to focus.  It's the same the rest of the time too.  So if I'm expecting Anthony to eat his dinner he doesn't like to be distracted from it and can become frustrated when he is.  This often means we have relatively quiet meal times - at least if we want them to be finished in the next hour.

Furniture, organised areas and even decor can play it's part too.  There's thing to do to help Anthony with his homework area and there's plenty of information out there for parents of kids with ADHD on how to set up your child’s environment so that it is conducive to them focusing.

Intense bursts

In productivity research, many studies have found that short bursts of intense activity is the best way to get things done, and remain focused throughout the day. For instance, the Pomodoro technique which suggests you set a timer, working for 20 minutes, then taking five minutes rest… as this is the optimum way to work.  It's worth thinking about this when I want Anthony to do something.  There's simply no point in setting him a task or something to do that's going to take more than 15-20 minutes unless I help him break it down into different jobs. Anthony doesn't 'do the dishwasher', first he empties in, then he fills it again.

Similarly, some people find taking their child away on intensive breaks, away from their normal environment, a good option.  In the same way Anthony needs pre-teaching, repetition and recapping to really get concepts, being all about a topic but looking at it in short bursts can work.  For instance some parents considered choosing to study English in Ireland as a way to ensure the child engages and stays on track.

Routine and Time sets 

That said, whilst these intense bursts of activity, such as breaking free from daily routine by taking a trip can be helpful, it’s vitally important your child has an element of routine in their lives as this leads to a sense of stability that helps focus. If they feel unorganised and distracted due to not having a solid routine, may struggle to focus on their what they should be doing and it could lead to emotional issues down the line.

The important thing is to find a balance, as few people like such a strict routine there’s no flexibility, but having a set time, where they sit at a particular spot and get on with their homework - we find making it dedicated 'focus time' very helpful. Having a period of time for doing a job also helps Anthony focus on the job in hand instead of the focus being to finish it as quickly as possible so he can do something else that's actually acting as a distraction.

For example, Anthony may be asked to put his clothes away but as he's actually thinking about getting back to playing on his PS4, he may complete the task poorly.  He may even just forget what's he's doing and go back to his PS4 game.  By giving him a specific time to do tasks that is realistic and routine, he focuses on doing the task and not what he will do next.  A set of visual cards can also help focus on what his current task is.

Have you any tips to help kids focus on what they should be doing?

1 comment:

I read all your comments and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and our readers. I welcome any feedback on my posts and you can always contact me directly. Thank you.

Have a look at our most recent posts:

@rainbowsaretoo Ann H on Google + rainbowsaretoo pinterest rainbowsaretoobeautiful bloglovin Instagram rainbowsaretoobeautiful