Every kid is going to face difficulties in carrying out some of the tasks they dread, from chores to homework. The challenge is only exacerbated when it comes to young people living with ADHD.
A powerful strategy for dealing with these predictable and reoccurring challenges is to have a toolkit on hand of various proven techniques. If your child struggles, for example, with breaking down a project to feel less overwhelming, you might consider the time-tested Pomodoro Technique.
The word “Pomodoro” itself is Italian for tomato and the term comes from a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. The technique emphasizes shortening the scope and intensity of a given project. By breaking down a daunting effort into much smaller and more manageable pieces, it quickly doesn’t look so insurmountable after all.
Say your child has procrastinated for too long on writing an essay. As the deadline looms, they begin to feel paralyzed by the fear of not completing it on time. But if they’re more accustomed to the Pomodoro Technique, it quickly becomes much less scary.
The writer Anne Lamott once gave a similar example in an anecdote about her younger brother during his school days. He had procrastinated on a huge book report on birds. He had three months to complete the assignment and now found himself overwhelmed the night before. His father sat down next to him and advised him, “Just take it bird by bird, buddy.”
Bird by bird. We can all do well to follow this advice.
Some ways to maximize your child’s time on a given task with the Pomodoro Technique:
- Decide on exactly what your child should aim to accomplish in a given stretch of time and hold them accountable with a timer. When it rings, time’s up. No matter what they’re doing in the task, they need to take a three minute break to go do something else, whether it’s get a glass of water or fitting in some jumping jacks.
- Use music to beat the procrastination habit; it fuels motivation for virtually any activity, especially exercise. You’ll be amazed at how fast time can fly with the right music pumping up the mood in the background.
What steps have you tried to make a large task feel less daunting? What has worked effectively for your child?