6 Essential Time Management Practices for Kids & Teens with ADHD
Time management can be a challenge for kids of any age, including elementary, middle, and high school students. Learning to balance homework and studying with extracurricular activities and other daily obligations can be difficult for children and teens, especially those who have been diagnosed with ADHD.
For kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, managing time effectively can feel almost impossible. Even daily tasks like doing their homework or cleaning their room may seem overwhelming and be the source of stress.
Children and teens with ADHD may get distracted easily, forget the current task, or lose track of time. They may underestimate how much time an activity will take them or spend too much time on one task while neglecting other obligations. They also often struggle with procrastination and organizational skills, which can lead to a lot of frustration.
However, teaching your child time management practices can make tasks less daunting and lessen the stress for everyone in your household. It is so important to equip your child with the skills and tools necessary to manage their time effectively. Helping your child develop these skills can help foster independence and allow them to gain confidence in their own abilities - which can be really valuable for children and teens with ADHD!
Teaching and developing these skills early on also sets your child up for success in adolescence, a time when they have even more responsibilities to manage. You can help your child or teen with ADHD develop stronger time management skills by using some of the tips and strategies mentioned below:
1. Make a To-Do List Each Day
Sit down with your child and make a list of everything they need to do during the day. This includes sleeping, eating meals, going to school, doing homework, completing household chores, attending extracurricular activities, and more. Together you can discuss how much time they will need for each task and how much time they will have left once those tasks have been completed. Having all of these things written down can make it easier for your child or teen to remember what tasks they need to complete.
One of the best ways to keep track of a to-do list is by using a planner. Check out this ADHD Planner for Kids by ADHDorganized that's designed to make your child’s life easier and more organized!
2. Create a Weekly Schedule
While a simple to-do list might be helpful to some kids with ADHD, others may need even more structure. An unplanned day can seem overwhelming to a child with ADHD, so creating a set schedule or routine can prove to be extremely helpful.
At the start of each week, begin by making a list with your child of everything they need to do and the time they think they need to complete it. Then, using that list, create a weekly schedule. Write down everything - from the time your child gets up until the time they go to bed - filling in when they are at school, doing their homework, eating meals, and when they have set activities like sports practices, music lessons, or doctor appointments. Remember to schedule in time for breaks and fun to help balance out responsibilities!
3. Organize Work Spaces Effectively
Many children with ADHD struggle with organizational skills, which can make completing a task extra difficult. Helping your child organize their work space can help eliminate distractions, which will ultimately help them manage their time better. Head to OfficeMax or Target to stock up on color-coded organizers, storage bins, and folders to keep their homework and assignments neatly tucked away in one place.
Don't forget to schedule a time for them to organize their space - or add it to their weekly to-do list!
4. Estimate Attention Span
Underestimating how long a task may take to complete is a common struggle for children and teens with ADHD. In addition to keeping a schedule or to-do list, you should also have your child document the estimated time and actual time each task takes them. For example, before cleaning their room, ask your child how long they think the task will take to complete and keep note of that estimation. Then, track the time it actually takes for your child to finish the task. If the two times are drastically different, you can sit down with your child to discuss why they think that discrepancy might happen and what they can do to manage their time better. Distractions are definitely something that can cause procrastination or add extra time to the task at hand, so identifying and eliminating those is a good first step!
Pro Tip: If cleaning their room just seems like too much of an overwhelming task, try helping your child break the activity down into smaller tasks with breaks in between.
5. Set Time Restrictions
While you and your child may have created a schedule together, you might find that they aren’t using that time to complete the tasks they need to. One way to help combat this issue is by sticking to the start and end times you agreed on for each task. Set a timer for each activity and make it their goal to finish the activity before the timer runs out. Remember to reward their success to help incentivize future positive behavior!
There are also ways to set time restrictions for other kinds of activities. For example, if your teen tends to be really slow in the morning and miss breakfast before school, you can tell them: “The kitchen is open at 7:30 am and closes at 7:50.” This way they know that there is a set amount of time that they have for breakfast and they can use that to plan the rest of their morning accordingly.
6. Help Your Child Better Understand and Manage Their ADHD
Another way that you can support your child is by helping them understand and manage their ADHD symptoms. Just by recognizing their own behaviors better, they can learn to manage their time better. With the right tools, kids can learn to think about their ADHD more positively and see it as an asset.
This Thriving with ADHD Workbook is filled with easy exercises to help your child with the many facets of ADHD - from self-control and organization to focus and time management - so they can flourish in all areas. The book provides an overview of ADHD, as well as skill-building exercises and action-oriented learning for the benefit of your child.
While that workbook is designed specifically for 7-12 years olds, there are also workbooks that exist for teens too!
The BHIP Executive Functioning Workbook is designed by child psychologists to help all middle and high school students, but can be particularly helpful for those with ADHD. The book can be used to improve time management, planning, and organizational skills, while also eliminating negative habits like procrastination.
Check out this glowing review from Dr. Caren Glassman, M.D., Board-Certified Pediatrician, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
"Dr. Burgess walks us through a step-by-step program to advise professionals and parents in helping children and teenagers to help themselves. Thank you Dr. Burgess for again breaking down a complex topic into easily understood and incorporated techniques!"
7. Find a Tutor who is Specifically Equipped to Help Kids with ADHD
Experienced ADHD tutors can provide the individualized, one-on-one attention that your child may not be receiving at school. These tutors can also help kids with more than just exam prep and homework - they are trained to prepare students with the tools and strategies they need to manage their daily tasks, organize their schoolwork, and resist distractions!
At Exceptional Mindset Tutors, our mission is to help kids with ADHD and other forms of neurodiversity THRIVE in both school and life. Our tutors incorporate mindfulness into every session - a practice which has shown to reduce stress and improve time management skills.
To get personally matched with a tutor that's right for your child, schedule a free consultation call with us today!