Five Focusing Hints – A Preview

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help your child pay attentionHere are some of the helpful hints from Focus Pocus – 100 Ways to Help Your Child Pay Attention.

7. For multi-step tasks, have kids pair a task to a finger. If you want your son to pick up the bathroom, empty the trash, feed the dog, then sweep the front porch, have him ‘put’ one task on each of his fingers. Then have him count back to you – as he holds up the first finger, he says, “Pick up the bathroom.” On second finger, he should say, “Empty the trash.” This will help him remind himself, and ensure that he heard you in the first place.

13. Pick your fidgety child to be the ‘server’ at dinner. Give them the honored task of refilling drinks, grabbing the serving fork for the green beans, getting the ketchup from the medicine cabinet – er – refrigerator, mopping up spills, and serving dessert. This is a great time for your child to acquire some valuable life skills, too. Don’t forget to express your thanks.

32…..NOTE: The fight isn’t worth it. If you have to fight with your child to get dressed – dress them yourself. It takes 60 stressless seconds. (They’ll learn how to tie their shoes before college, and if not, they can wear flip flops!) We always fought over making beds. Consider using a sleeping bag instead of sheets – a trick still used by our two who have moved away. Or consider leaving their bed unmade – a trick our other two still do at home.

48. Ask for explanation. If you ask, “Do you understand?”, a child will almost always answer “Yes.” They may want to please you, they may think they understand, or they may just want to be done with homework, but they may not really grasp what they have learned. Instead of asking if you were understood, ask your child to explain the concept to you.

61. Take a picture of the assignment board. Most kids have cell phones, and many kids have camera phones. Get permission for kids to be able to take a picture of the assignment board. Or the teacher can take the picture and then email it, upload it a webpage, or even Tweet it to parents. This is a lot easier than trying to type in assignments on a teacher website.

73. Teach a child how to flow with a conversation. Your child abruptly changes the subject because she is not really listening to a dinner conversation. Stop her, and ask your daughter what was being said before she spoke. Chances are, she can tell you – she heard, but didn’t attend.
She must be taught to recognize that although she is talking, she isn’t participating in a conversation. Ask your daughter to make an appropriate following comment. Explain that it’s important to have a conversation – one person talks, then the other person answers, then another person until the subject is finished.
For example: Ron: Today at school, this kid threw up all over the floor in gym class.

Joe: I won the race in PE today.

Mom: Joe, what did Ron just say?

Joe: Ummm. (Looks to the ceiling to recall.) Some kid threw up in gym.

Mom: What’s the next sentence in that conversation?

Joe: Could you see what he ate for breakfast?

Welcome to my life!

PS Don’t miss the special offer of getting Focus Pocus with a bonus copy of Waking Up from the Homework Nightmare! (This offer is now expired, although you can now get both books at a reduced price.)

About Kayla

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys, three of whom have been formally diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD. When she started “Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?” in 2002, her sons were ages 8 through 14, when her life was a “progression of dirty laundry, lost homework, misunderstood Algebra, and a whole lot of love and fun”.

Connect with Kayla online Google+


  1. http://Raquel says

    Both my children have ADHD. One is inattentive while the other is more the Impulsive type. The morning routine in my house was a nightmare and I just couldnt make it work. My son could not get through any of the routine steps of getting dressed brushing teeth or going to breakfast with out constant reminders and my daughter couldnt get through the routine with out constant talking and movements. It finally dawned on me that 1 childs ADHD was clashing with my other childs ADHD.
    My son cant focus as it is but when you add his hyper sister to the mix we just couldnt get anywhere. So, I started waking just my son up. Alone. I helped him get through the routine in quiet. Just me and him. Once he was 100% complete and ready to sit down to breakfast I would then wake up his sister. I walked her through the routine and by the time she was ready to eat, my
    son would already be done and ready to go. I realized that when you have more than 1 child in the house with ADHD, asking them both to accomplish the same tasks at the same time is almost impossible. So I now, instead of sending both kids up to get dressed I will send 1 child up and wait until he is done and then send the second child up. It worked for me. Its worth a try if you have more than 1 child with ADHD. They function much better with out the second child distracting them. Now we have time for lifes liittle glitches and issues that may arise inevitably. Im not late for work when its time to find a shoe. Now we can look for the shoe and still be on time because we have eliminated 90% of the usual chaos by getting each child 100% ready early.

    • What a great way to handle things! I love the quote, “I realized that when you have more than 1 child in the house with ADHD, asking them both to accomplish the same tasks at the same time is almost impossible.” My thought was – try explaining this to someone who hasn’t been there done that!

      I know it’s a lot more trouble to get up earlier – twice as early – but it has certainly paid off for you in the result. Love this!

  2. http://Raquel says

    I would just like to add that the routine goes so much smoother this way, that I dont have to wake up THAT much earlier. Instead of giving both kids the same 45 min to get ready I now give each child their ‘own’ private 30 minutes with me to get ready. They dont need as much time with my individual help and attention. They actually get through the routine faster and smoother. Ive only added about 30 minutes to my morning and I’ve eliminated a whole lot of screaming, groundings and horrible mornings. Now my kids have time for that second bowl of cereal and I can stop and tie a shoe at the door if I have to. I hope this helps!

  3. http://micki801 says

    This is a great idea. I have two boys (9 & 12) with ADHD and I myself have ADD. This is a recipe for disaster on school mornings. The solution that has worked for us is that I get up an hour early and give them their medicine thenwe all go back to sleep (most of the time). When we get up and hour later their medicine has kicked in so that they are much easier to deal with and it provides for a much smoother morning. The only downside is that they don’t want to eat as much, but they are healthy and I believe the trade off is worth it! It took a long time to figure this out, so I hope this will help someone else. : )