There are Only 5 Motivators for People with ADHD

Important Note:

This is a quick tip summary of a more detailed article explaining the function of Motivation and its importance to kids with complex challenges. Motivation is one of the most essential concepts for parents to grasp in our community. Please take a few minutes to review the more in depth article here. For more on how to use motivation as part of a coach approach to parenting, get your copy of The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety, and More.

When kids face challenges with executive function, finding motivation for anything and everything that “needs to get done” is critical. It's not just something nice -- its really essential. Without motivation, executive function-challenged brains lack the “just get it done” button required to activate, stay with, and complete a task.

There are basically five things that motivate the ADHD brain (though NOT everyone with ADHD is motivated by all of them). Just remember: PINCH (P.I.N.C.H.).

  • Play (Humor/creativity)
  • Interest
  • Novelty
  • Competition
  • Hurry Up (Urgency)

When you identify ways to motivate your kids, it really works. For example, we had one family whose entire routine changed when they started waking up their 3rd grade son with tickling. It wouldn't work for all kids, but this kid NEEDED the FUN (humor), the arousal energy (urgency), and the connection with his dad (interest) in the morning.

Also, when kids identify how to motivate themselves, it sets them up for long-term success. They have a lifetime to manage their complicated brains, and the sooner they learn to use motivation for their own benefit, the better!

So, accept that they need motivation to take action. Learn spelling words or math facts while bouncing a basketball; set a timer to see how many spelling words a kid can write before the timer goes off; put a gummy bear at the end of each page of a text book (my teenagers prefer it at the end of each paragraph). Make a game out of ... ANYTHING! Sometimes, you might even let them do something fun BEFORE the homework, like read the comics and then get started. If it helps them get started, you'll find it might even motivate you!

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