Children (and adults) with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often have difficulty completing everyday tasks. These tasks, such as washing the dishes, cleaning your room, and putting away the groceries, are often referred to as ‘simple’ tasks. ‘Simple’ does not necessarily mean ‘easy.’
The tasks that are often hardest for people with ADHD to complete are those that are perceived as purposeless, too abstract, boring, unrewarding, repetitive, and time-consuming. For example, someone with ADHD may struggle to put their laundry away because it feels like it would take a long time, be disinteresting, and be purposeless, as they would just have to put the clothes away all over again the next time that they do laundry.
Those simple, everyday tasks are, unfortunately, part of life. It is important to try to identify and problem-solve through the ‘stuck points’ that get in the way of completing these tasks.
Here are some possible stuck points and strategies to help move past them:
- If a task feels boring or repetitive, try listening to music or a podcast or talking to someone on the phone while you complete the task.
- If a task feels like it would take a long time, set a five-minute timer, and see how much you can get done before the timer goes off.
- If a task feels too abstract or overwhelming (e.g., cleaning your room), write out a step-by-step list to make the task more concrete.
Another strategy includes turning the task into a game. For example, if your children are struggling to put their toys away, start a race to see who can finish faster. Lastly, the concept known as ‘body doubling’ may be helpful for someone with ADHD. Body doubling involves having another person near you, likely working on their own task, while you complete your task. Having someone else in the room may keep you on task, make the task more pleasurable or less overwhelming, and make the time go by faster.
The key to problem solving through stuck points is to identify the specific stuck points and strategies that would work for you and your children. While you are brainstorming, try to be creative, open-minded, and nonjudgmental. The ‘right’ way to do something is the way that works for you.