Turn Off The Noise
This may sound obvious, but sometimes you just need to turn off the “noise”: the cell phones, the iPads, and anything else that goes “beep” in the night…and the day. I'm not calling for full silence – especially when our brains keep making all these loud noises on the inside – but a little noise reduction (literally and otherwise) can help everyone find a little more focus, and connect to each other better in daily conversations.
We are all living in an “interruption-driven” environment, and when you add ADHD and other executive dysfunctions to the mix, it can be incredibly difficult to stay focused.
So it's up to us to teach our kids the value of consciously turning off outside distractions so they can achieve their goals. Of course, it helps if we model it for them, ourselves.
Sometimes this is as simple as clearing off a desk before getting started on a project, or teaching your child to do that before studying for a test. Maybe it's verbally stating that you're putting your cell phone away during dinner. Or stating that you're going to turn off NPR when your child comes into the kitchen while you're making dinner.
Start By Raising Awareness
Other times it can be a lot more complicated. The idea is to raise awareness to the impact that distraction is having on our lives, so our kids can begin to recognize when it is interfering in theirs.
For example, one of my daughters came to me before exams one semester and asked us to change her Instagram password. She just knew that it was too distracting for her and she wanted to be able to focus on her studying, which was hard for her to do. After exams, we changed it back.
Now if we had changed her password without her involvement, there would have been a lot of screaming and crying. But because she had learned of the importance of minimizing distractions to set herself up for success, she actually came up with the idea herself – and that made all the difference.
Now, don't expect your teenager to volunteer this suggestion in the first week of practicing this strategy. But when you start small, by putting cell phones away during dinner, you'll eventually get to the pot of gold at the end of the… wait, no, rainbows are too distracting!