Procrastination is a common problem that affects many children whether they have ADD/ADHD, executive function deficits, or not.
Many kids struggle to start and finish tasks and have difficulty managing their time effectively. This often leads to stress, lost motivation, reduced self-esteem, and poor academic performance.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, many children with ADD/ADHD also have difficulty with executive functioning. This includes the ability to plan, organize, and manage time effectively. As a result, they may struggle to prioritize tasks and may have difficulty starting and completing them. This can lead to chronic procrastination, where tasks are consistently delayed or avoided until they become urgent or too difficult to complete.
Chronic procrastination can also affect other areas of a child’s life, such as their relationships and their ability to participate in extracurricular activities.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that parents and caregivers can use to help children with ADD/ADHD overcome chronic procrastination. Here are some tips to get started:
Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps.
One of the main reasons children with ADD/ADHD and poor executive functions procrastinate is that they may feel overwhelmed by the size or complexity of a task. Breaking tasks down into smaller, manageable steps can make tasks feel less daunting and more achievable. For example, instead of writing an essay all in one sitting, break this down into smaller steps. This might include writing the outline, researching the quotes, writing a draft, and rewriting the final draft.
Create a schedule or routine.
Those with ADD/ADHD benefit from structure and routine. This helps manage time more effectively. Creating a system that includes specific times for homework, chores, and other activities helps kids stay on track and avoid procrastination. It also sets an expectation, which in turn can help create habits.
Use visual aids.
Visual aids such as calendars, to-do lists, and timers can be helpful. These tools can help one stay organized and focused. They also provide a visual reminder of what tasks must be completed. Students should be encouraged – even incentivized – to keep a daily calendar of their assignments and responsibilities to help them stay on task.
Distractions are procrastination’s best friend. Do what is needed to limit whatever can distract attention from the task. Remove cell phones, and close down unnecessary screens on the computer.
Get professional support.
If chronic procrastination continues to be a problem despite using these strategies, parents may want to seek professional help. An executive function coach or experienced tutor can develop a personalized plan that addresses procrastination and other ADD/ADHD symptoms.
Kids that have ADD/ADHD are often challenged with procrastination. Understanding how they work together provides an opportunity to learn and develop skills, tools, and strategies that will be helpful to them, not only as a student but also in their adult lives.