Coaching Organizational Skills To ADD/ADHD Children

Overcoming the Biggest Roadblock to Young Success
Guest blogger: Dr. Steven Richfield

Illustration courtesy of Phillip Martin

Of all the struggles associated with ADD/ADHD, organizational problems create the greatest havoc in children’s academic lives.

Forgotten or misplaced homework assignments, lost supplies, poor long term planning, and underestimating task demands are a few of the typical traps that sabotage school performance.

The resulting stress imposed upon family relationships, coupled with the damage incurred by the child’s self-esteem, makes it vital that children learn ways to overcome the organizational chaos so typical of ADD/ADHD.

Parents wishing to coach organizational skills to their ADD/ADHD children can benefit from the following strategies.


Education and Information

Educate your child about the practical challenges imposed by ADD/ADHD.

Many children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD hold only a simple understanding of their condition. Labels such as “focusing problem” or “being too hyper” don’t begin to capture the interferences with managing the demands of life.

Consider the following explanation: “ADD/ADHD pushes people off the path of getting things done. It can block you from taking the time to write down a school assignment, or place a homework sheet in the right place, or remember to do it, or to file it away once it’s completed, or to hand it in the next day.”

Point out how these examples have surfaced in your child’s school life but assure them that there are ways to control for these troubles.

Explain how to control ADD/ADHD interferences 

Explain how controlling ADD/ADHD interferences is similar to developing a “personal navigational system.”  

ADD/ADHD children are often unaware of how random events, such as dropping a pencil on the floor, can open up another thought pattern in their mind and steer them far away from picking up important cues in the classroom.

  • Expose how you have witnessed this at home, and emphasize how distracting habits push them off track, and therefore must be minimized.
  • Describe how ADD/ADHD causes people to drift off course and ignore the signals that teachers send to students about what is important to remember for tests/quizzes or to include within written assignments, etc.

Pinpoint how they can prompt themselves

Pinpoint how they can prompt themselves at different times of the day to mentally check up on their self-management.

Suggest that they silently ask themselves, “How’s my steering and have I stayed on track so far?“

  • Stress how their rush to leave a class once the bell rings or to speak with a classmate rather than carefully listen to a teacher’s last minute instructions will cause them to ignore critical organizational cues.
  • Help them develop a list of those times during the day when  “organizational check points” would be especially helpful.
  • Do the same for the home and encourage them to practice drilling themselves until these check-points become routine.

Coach Planning

Coach them about the importance of planning and thinking in advance.

ADD/ADHD cultivates a mindset that focuses upon present wishes and whims rather than future responsibilities and commitments. Children need help developing a view of the road ahead in life.  Here is one way to approach this critical need:

“By remembering to ask yourself three questions throughout the day,
you can make life run more smoothly:

Help them assimilate the following three questions by prompting them at pivotal points while they are on their “life road.”

(1) What do I have to remember to do today?
(2) Before I leave this place, do I have everything I need?  and
(3) What’s coming up in the next few days that I need to prepare for now?”

Dr. Steven Richfield is a child psychologist in Plymouth Meeting, PA. He has developed a child-friendly, self-control/social skills building program called Parent Coaching Cards now in use in thousands of homes and schools around the world.

His new book, The Parent Coach: A New Approach To Parenting In Today’s Society is available through Sopris West ( 1-800-547-6747) He can be contacted at director at (use the symbol) (or 610-238-4450). 

CLICK HERE To learn more about Parent Coaching Cards, read more parenting columns, or review the press kit to The Parent Coach

 see also:   Coaching Tips For Parents Of LD & ADD/HD Children


More ADD/ADHD Resources on this site:

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Articles in the ADD Overview series:

Articles in the Attention series:

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

2 Responses to Coaching Organizational Skills To ADD/ADHD Children

  1. Pingback: The Balancing Act: Managing Multilevel Marketing and your ADHD Child

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