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How to motivate your child with ADHD

Kid

Parent

Teen

ADHD

Neurodivergence

May 29, 2024

It can feel impossible to motivate your child to do something they would rather avoid, like math homework, especially when they are living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). That’s because children with ADHD often have difficulty staying on task, following instructions, or completing activities. 

To help you motivate your child living with ADHD, the team at Bend is here with our top tips to bring more focus into your home. 

How to help your child with ADHD to focus 

  • Create a calm environment. Of course, it’s difficult to focus in a chaotic setting. That’s why it helps to make your home as peaceful and predictable as possible. Limit things that can be distracting, like phones and loud toys. Turn off the television and monitor computer access. Clear out the clutter, add a soothing scent like lavender, and even try playing relaxing jazz or classical music in the background.

  • Provide clear communication. Give instructions that focus on one step at a time, both verbally and visually, clearly outline rules and expectations, and, if necessary, come up with a secret code so your child can signal to you that they need further clarification without feeling embarrassed.

  • Think short-term. Another thing to consider is that for many children, motivation is transient — meaning in the moment — in their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Enticing them with long-term rewards, like a trip to the toy store at the end of the month, may not fully motivate them. So think short-term, like an ice cream break after the homework session.

  • Break things down. Tasks that are long in duration can be overwhelming, so break them up into smaller, more manageable steps and provide breaks when necessary. For example, if they need to read for 30 minutes, allow them to read for 10, take a 2-minute break, and repeat.

  • Mix things up. Kids can benefit from variations in activities and movement. Try giving them the option to work on homework for 20 minutes, taking a 20-minute movement break, and then resuming homework is a great strategy.

Remember that motivation is different for all of us! What motivates you may not motivate your child. Do what you can not to bring a judgmental tone into conversations regarding their willingness to do homework. That does not mean being indifferent on boundaries. It simply means paying attention to how you respond to them and being empathetic to what they may be experiencing. 

Ask them questions about how they feel and be willing to agree that this is hard, while also encouraging them to explore creative or imaginative solutions to their motivation. And when they exhibit good behavior and positive choices, give them tremendous amounts of praise for a job well done!

Bend is here if you need us. We have a team of licensed practitioners that can help you figure out the next steps, along with day-to-day tools to help make life easier for you and your child, so feel free to reach out for diagnostic information and support.

Need help navigating ADHD or anxiety?

Learn to Bend.