How To Combat ADHD in Kids Using a Timer

by Guest Blogger on June 7, 2012


Children who have ADHD often have a difficult time waking up in the morning and staying on task throughout the day. They often become overwhelmed when they are given several sets of instructions at the same time and are easily distracted. Using a timer can help them schedule their tasks, estimate how long each task will take, take breaks without being distracted and schedule their most important task for the time of day they are most productive. 

Alarm Clock

A timer is more useful to children who have been diagnosed with ADHD than an alarm clock because it can be set to go off at certain intervals until it is disabled. Children who suffer from ADHD commonly get up when their alarm clock goes off, but return to bed as soon as it is quieted and continue sleeping until much later in the day. Having a timer that sounds every five or ten minutes helps to ensure they will get out of bed and start their day at the right time.

Time Tasks

Knowing the amount of time it takes your child to complete a certain task is very important so that you can schedule enough time in your day to complete every task on the list. Children with ADHD commonly underestimate the amount of time it takes them to complete a simple task. Using a timer to gauge the amount of time the task actually takes helps you to be realistic about what your child can accomplish. It is a good idea to add about five minutes to your estimated completion time so that there is a slight buffer. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control and allowing extra time means that the rest of your schedule won’t suffer because one or two tasks took too long to complete.

Schedule The Day

One important element of time management is following a schedule. Most people sit down either in the evening or the morning and make a schedule for the following day. It is best to write down the schedule because it helps you remember everything that is listed. Many parents sit down with their child in a quiet room and talk about the events of the following day. This is a good time to talk about things that are overwhelming to the child and make adjustments to the schedule if necessary. Use the estimated completion times you got by timing the tasks to create a schedule that works for you and your family.

Break It Down

It is important to break tasks down into steps so that they don’t become overwhelming. Tasks like cleaning a bedroom may seem easy to understand, but a person with ADHD needs to have it broken down into steps such as vacuum the floor, put the books away and take out the trash. You can use a timer to give them five minutes to complete each task before moving on to the next.

Focus on a Single Task

Most people who have ADHD have trouble focusing on one task at a time and are easily distracted. Give your child who is suffering from ADHD a single task to complete and set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes for the task to be completed. You will probably need to stay with the child and make sure that they stay on task. Slowly leave the area for a minute or two at a time until the child is able to focus on a task without help for 20 minutes. Minimize distractions and don’t give them any new instructions until the task has been completed.

Prioritize

People usually have various amounts of energy throughout the day. Some people are morning people that are most active and alert in the morning, while others are night owls that aren’t naturally productive until afternoon or evening. You can’t always schedule classes and appointments when you want them, so do your best to make schedule changes when you can. Pay attention to your child’s natural rhythm and do your best to schedule the most difficult tasks for the time of the day that they are most productive. Talk to your child about what is most important to them. Lessons or classes that you are willing to cut out of their schedule may be vitally important to them.

Time Breaks

Just as timing the tasks your child completes is important, it is also important to schedule breaks in their day and set a timer so that the break doesn’t end up taking over the rest of the day. Downtime should be scheduled about every two hours and it is a good idea to make sure there is downtime in the schedule immediately following any tasks that are particularly difficult or draining for your child. Breaks should be about 20 minutes every two hours. Allow your child to choose their own activity for break time, but make sure they will be able to hear the timer when it is time to move on to the next activity.

Reward System

Rewards are a great way to motivate children who are struggling with ADHD. Make sure you have set clear expectations about when they will receive a reward and what the reward will be. Some parents use stickers or gold stars on a chart so that their child can see when they are getting close to earning a reward. It is best to use a favorite activity or special toy as a reward rather than food. Most children look forward to spending time with family and friends, so family trips to the zoo, museum or amusement park make great rewards. You can keep the reward chart next to the timer that you use for activities to emphasize the link between good time management and rewards.

About the Author

OnlineClock.net are the creators of free web timer software. They offer a wide range of internet timers that work right in your web browser, requiring nothing to download or install. Stop by the Online Clock website today to try using a web timer today!

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