The most overlooked distraction is our thoughts. For those with ADHD it is often the biggest barrier to paying attention.
Efforts we make to lessen external distractions don’t work for tuning-out our own thoughts.
Music, TV, bright neon lights are distracting to most. For others, those are crucial to keeping focused. What works for the neurotypical brain does not work for the complex ADHD brain.
When you notice your kids distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds, quickly bouncing from one activity to another, or becoming bored quickly, what do you offer?
If you tell your kids, “Go study in your room where it is quiet,” you are not alone.
I did it.
I didn’t know better.
Other well-meaning parents and experts share this as an effective focusing strategy. It may be for some, but not others.
Why I thought “Study in your room where it is quiet,” was the secret sauce to focusing and getting stuff done.
- Works for me!
- Quiet is necessary to concentrate. I learned it in school.
- Her room has all the required ingredients for success with a desk, comfortable yet studious chair, good lighting, and a clock.
Why this recipe failed?
Things I don’t notice are my daughter’s bright, shiny attention stealers including:
- Colored pencils and markers. First, organizing them. Second, doodling.
- Fears. Specifically, fear of bugs. The bug on the window? Is it inside or outside? Cautious detective work could take hours.
- The chair. What was I thinking? A chair with wheels and spins. Nothing left to say about the chair.
- A clock. Another fear. Fear of time. Ever hear of time blindness? Daylight would turn to night and still no awareness of time.
- Stuck? Stopping to ask me for help? Mostly, the question was forgotten before she found me. Sometimes, she never found me because something more interesting grabbed her attention while en route.
Our New Improved Secret Sauce to Better Focus
The Kitchen Counter.
Smack-dab in the middle of the energy hub of the house. This is where she gets it all done. We don’t change a thing. The phone still rings. The TV in the next room is blaring.
Balancing the checkbook, working on the computer, making dinner, it didn’t matter what I was doing. Without realizing it, I became her body double.
A body double is someone who is present and passive with another, who isn’t doing the same task with that person or for that person. Their passive presence anchors them to the task at hand, helping them stay focused.
If she got stuck I was there to help. If I noticed frustration creeping in, I’d suggest a break, a glass of water or some fresh air.
The activity and noise is chaotic to me. For my daughter, the thoughts flitting frantically in her head is chaotic.
How do those with overactive minds control their distracting thoughts?
They focus on the external noise. it brings their racing thoughts to a screeching halt. The external noise drowns out their more distracting internal thoughts allowing them to focus.
The years parenting an ADHD child and Coaching other’s with ADHD, I’ve learned I don’t know how to fix it. ADHD can’t be fixed. It can be managed. Managing our kids ADHD makes sense, at first, for a period of time. It doesn’t make sense forever.
Get your kid involved in problem solving. Pause before telling your kid what to do. Ask your kid for ideas!
You’ll be amazed how many answers your child has when given the space to find them.
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