Keep it simple.
We humans have this tendency to make things really complicated. As parents, we set complex reward systems in place and create long, detailed lists of charts and chores that we expect. On top of making things more complicated than they need to be, we also tend to get surprised when our kids (with limited executive function) have a hard time making things work.
Summer is a great time to keep it simple, to focus on one thing at a time, to set very clear expectations, but not too many of them at once. It's a great chance to give kids an opportunity to focus on something clearly and see some successes from it. And when we keep it simple, when we expect a little less of them but expect them to do it a little better, they tend to really thrive in that, and they feel the success.
So keep it simple this summer. Try not to pile too many tasks and chores on. Let them do one thing at a time, let them feel really good about it, and then move on.
And remember: success breeds success. The beautiful thing about keeping things simple is that you can see immediate results. More often than not, our kids need a good "win" under their belt, and when we help them achieve a little success, we can build on that. They'll be more willing to engage and try the next thing if they've already seen that they can be successful.
So search for little successes and 'catch them being good' to balance your kids' common sense of feeling 'wrong.' For example, if your child has cleared their plate to the sink but not into the dishwasher, thank them for clearing the plate before asking them to put it in the dishwasher.
And as an added bonus, when we take the time to celebrate the small victories, we begin to see the patterns in what our kids are doing well. That way, when we are looking for a solution to a challenge, we have some positive experience to draw from, no matter how small. Focusing on successes is a way of championing your children. If you believe in them, they are more likely to believe in themselves. If you don’t – well, what’s the message they’re getting?
A Special Note to Parents with ADHD
Having to constantly keep track of stickers, check marks, or smiley faces can be tedious and time consuming. And if we try to track too much at once, it’s a recipe for limited success and overall disappointment. For those of us who struggle with our own executive function challenges, it’s hard enough to find our keys, much less remember to check 26 listed items every night! So, look to create solutions that can be implemented quickly and easily, both inside and outside the home. Try having only 2 or 3 household rules that cover everything, and only Take Aim on one thing at a time. Keeping it Simple is a simple recipe for success.