ADHD:Managing Forgetfulness

by Brenda on June 22, 2007

Here are some specific ideas for managing the common things that kids with ADD/ADHD forget:
Homework assignments: a planner is a great idea, and good preparation for life in general. See the post from last time regarding using one.
Another idea is to involve the teacher(s) in the process, if they’re willing. At the end of each class period, have your child stop by the teacher’s desk for a couple of seconds - just long enough for them to check the planner and initial it. You could also implement something similar with a friend from each class who’s willing to help, assuming of course that the friend is reliable.
At the other end of the homework spectrum is the frustration of doing the homework and then losing it before class. The best solution to this is a series of solutions.
Of course, you’re going to start by making sure the work is actually being done. You could initial either the planner or the homework itself as a checkpoint. Next, find a “vehicle” for completed homework; usually a special folder reserved just for that purpose. Make sure the homework goes in the folder and the folder goes in the backpack - that night, not in the morning.
If this is an especially bothersome problem for you, you might want to add in one or two extra steps: make a copy of the homework before you put it in the folder, and then either email or fax the homework directly to the teacher.
Chores: if your child is having trouble remembering to do chores, give it some thought before you go looking for solutions.
First, are there too many chores on the list? Kids with ADD can be easily overwhelmed by a long list. Can you break it up so that some get done on different days? Or maybe you could take some away temporarily and then add them back as they get used to the routine of doing the ones they have.
Maybe all that’s needed is a different way to remind them. Maybe a tape they play a little at a time, cards in a stack, or folded notes they pull out of a jar instead of a list. Second, is this really an ADD problem, or just a kid who doesn’t want to do chores? I don’t have to tell you what to do if that’s the case.
Verbal instructions: if the problem is forgetting to do all that you’ve asked them to do, maybe you’re giving them too much at once.
For instance: go upstairs and get your dirty clothes out. Sort out the white clothes from the others, then get just your jeans and heavy shirts and bring them downstairs and put them in the washing machine. That’s too much at once.
Break it down into smaller steps and give them a little at a time. My son, who’s almost 23, still needs this kind of help if I send him to the store for a few items. We go over the list a few times (he won’t take a written list), and we always count how many items he’s buying. (Remember, you’re getting 6 things.) Sometimes, if several of the items start with the same letter, we’ll call attention to that: you need 6 things, and 3 of them start with “B”: bananas, bread, and butter.
Use the word “remember” instead of “don’t forget”. It’s a subtle thing, but using a positive instead of a negative helps the mind remember.
Use humor whenever you can. Taking the nagging out of the equation seems to help. I’ve left little notes with clues like a treasure hunt to remind my daughter to do something, or posted pictures of the cat everywhere when she needed to change his box, and it worked. If you can get a smile and a chore done at the same time – wow!
That’s all I can think of at the moment. If you got a problem you need a solution to, let me know. We’ll see what we can come up with. By the way - you could always ask your kid for his ideas.

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