KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON should be the mantra while trying to juggle all of the processes and routines we put in place to support organizational and academic success for our children. Parents want desperately to see their children succeed, and at times, we go to extreme lengths to put strategies in place, hire tutors, buy expensive learning programs, or create elaborate systems, all in the name of helping our children.
So, once in place, how do we keep all the balls in the air? How do we maintain the structures in an already busy and sometimes over-scheduled life? Dr. Peg Dawson, along with colleague, and internationally renowned expert on ADHD and executive dysfunction, Dr. Russell Barkley, would begin by summing it up in three words...Keep It Simple followed by another three...Share the Responsibilities.
In my opening paragraph I wrote about “juggle all of the processes and routines,” suggesting multiple and simultaneous processes and routines. If you can’t keep it straight and consistently employed, there is little chance your child will be able to remember them, and an even smaller chance he will become independent in their use. Too many new things at one time equal little change for the future. Start by assessing where the biggest hurdles arise for your child. Whatever the deterrent, start with a strong footing on which to lay the foundation, add scaffolding as you start to build, and focus on growth and consistent improvement that will make for a sturdy, long-lasting structure in the end. Get the picture?
Further, if the “we” in “we put in place supports FOR our children” is really YOU, stop for a moment. We really can’t do anything meaningful FOR our children and expect independence. Better we develop the plan WITH our child, other family members, and the school, should it require buy-in from them. Sharing responsibilities takes the weight of being creator, monitor, dispenser of consequence, and evaluator, off of one person, and makes a well-crafted, simple plan manageable, and ultimately, successful.
Don’t forget to celebrate along the way. If someone wakes up on their own with the alarm, celebrate! If the checklist you create together is acknowledged, celebrate! If someone remembers, when Mom forgets...Thank them, then celebrate! I love the quote by an unknown author:
Motivation only comes where success has been.
Whether the routines and rituals are built to support home or school, keeping in mind simplicity and a team approach to sharing the responsibilities will encourage motivation to work the plan on a daily basis, and set your child up for success.