Set Up Routines

Time Management
Set Up Routines

When working with a child with ADHD success often comes from setting up routines and sticking to them. It helps establish consistency and expectations. Many times your ADHD child may know what needs to be done, but has a hard time prioritizing the tasks at hand.

It’s important to understand that it takes time to set up routines that are consistent. Normally, changes in behaviors take 21 to 30 days before they become habit.

Think about a routine that you tried to establish for yourself. If you were successful, it’s probably because you established the routine, executed on it, and were consistent.

So let’s just say you’re setting up a morning routine for your child. As it stands now, things are chaotic in the morning, always looking for the lost shoe, homework left in the bedroom, teeth rarely brushed, etc. To establish a consistent routine, you may want to start with a checklist. It may look something like this:

√ Eat Breakfast
√ Get Dressed
√ Brush Your Teeth
√ Make sure everything is in your backpack

Keep things simple. Set your child up for success. If your checklist includes too many things—like make your bed, make your lunch, etc.—and your child doesn’t have time to do them, you’re setting them up for failure.

It’s important to understand that a checklist is designed to successfully get them to the goal, which in this case is getting ready for school.

Since mornings are hectic, it’s not recommended that you overload it with chores that can be done after school. Just focus on what is needed. The only other thing you may want to add is:

√ Watch TV when 1-4 are completed.

You’ll be amazed how quickly and efficiently the list gets completed.

To learn more about establishing routines in conjunctions with cognitive attention training for people with ADHD, register for our webinar.

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Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

It is commonplace for everyone to make New Year’s resolutions, however, adults with ADHD can experience frustration by not following the “list” of their resolutions for the following year.

In an effort to eliminate that frustration and improve the likelihood of keeping your New Year’s resolutions follow a simple process throughout the year.

Although New Year’s resolutions are “Life Changing” start with a simple task, such as cleaning out a closet, taking a ten (10) minute walk each morning, or organizing your important papers.

Make a list of your resolutions and each day keep notes under each item. Reflect on the event and memorialize your activity which relates to a success. As you progress you will believe you can achieve the goal and you will! Don’t rely on an excuse to avoid the resolution, such as, I must go shopping, it’s raining outside, and I just want to sit down! Each time you consistently undertake the resolution you change your behavior and success will follow.

By starting with small tasks, you will experience success by following through each day, next year your resolutions can be more “life changing” as you have experienced success in completing your New Year’s Resolution of the past year.

This is a process and you will build your confidence from your past year’s achievement!

Play Attention can help you develop the skills you need in order to reach your goals this year. Be more focused, more productive, and more successful in 2017 with Play Attention. Attend our webinar to learn how to get started.

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Happy Holidays!

The excitement of tearing open gifts under the tree, the anticipation of visiting family and friends, staying up late to see if there really is a Santa – all of this can be overwhelming to the average child. It’s especially overwhelming to a child with ADHD. All of these holiday events can easily turn from joy to tears in a matter of moments. There are strategies you can employ to make certain all stays calm and joyous….

“Children with ADHD thrive with consistency.  They work well in a structured environment.  With the disruption of daily schedules, your child may suffer in school and their behavior at home may be disastrous.  Children that are normally hyperactive may become even more so. Children that are distracted easily will find it even more difficult to stay focused on the mundane school tasks.  Children that are impulsive may find their impulsiveness increase.  For some parents, this change in behaviors can begin as early as October and last well into January. 

For children that have a hard time socially, this time of year may be especially difficult.  Their classmates may make plans to get together with friends over the winter break from school. For the child that does not have many friends, this may make them feel even more isolated.  Family gatherings may be stressful if your child does not yet have the social skills to act appropriately, or they may spend the day feeling left out and alone.  Some parents complain that fights with siblings increase as well during the holiday season.

Parents must deal with their own commitments and responsibilities during this time as well as help their child cope with the daily stress the holidays bring.  Parents can end up frazzled and frustrated, impatiently waiting for the season to end rather than enjoying this special time of the year.”[1]

“To help keep sanity a part of your holiday routine, there are a number of tips that parents can incorporate into their daily life:

1)      Maintain routines as much as possible.  Sometimes this can be very difficult with the many activities that are going on. Schedule events around your child’s schedule. Bedtime routines and times are very important; children can cope much better with a good night’s sleep.

2)      Make up a holiday calendar to keep up in your kitchen. Make sure you include school events such as holiday parties and assemblies. Use the calendar to keep track of visits to friends and relatives, as well as times you plan to do holiday shopping.  Use the calendar to help your child know what is coming up and talk with them about your expectations during these events.

3)      Be proactive in your approach. Think about what problems may develop and determine if your expectations fit the situation. If necessary, shorten the time of a visit with friends or relatives. Talk with your child before each event about what to expect and what your expectations are. Be prepared with extra snacks or extra clothing that you know your child will like.

4)      Determine rewards and consequences for behavior prior to the holiday season and be consistent throughout.  Be sure to provide directions and instructions in small chunks and be sure to maintain eye contact while you are talking with your child. Let them know what the consequences will be if their behavior does not meet your expectations and what rewards will be. (Rewards can be simple such as staying up to watch a favorite television show or receiving a treat during shopping.)

5)      Be understanding of the extremes of children with ADHD. They may not be as reasonable in their demands, or their impulsiveness may lead to making more requests for gifts. Take time during the holiday season to talk with them about helping those less fortunate and add the purchase a gift to donate to other children to your shopping list. If you cannot afford to donate toys, find locations in your area that make up food baskets and donate some time to help make up or distribute food baskets to needy families.”[2]

“6)      Make sure your child understands that there are different rules in different households. When visiting friends and relatives, let them know ahead of time what behavior is expected in that house. If you are visiting a relative that does not have any children and normally has items out that can easily be broken, talk with your child before you enter the house. You may also want to shorten visits if you see that your child is not handling the situation well.

7)      Think about the invitation you have received before accepting. Is this a place you and your children will feel comfortable and accepted? Is this a place where you can gently excuse yourself for a short time to allow your child a few minutes of down time to calm down if they need it?  You do not need to accept every invitation; it is okay to politely decline if it is in the best interest of your family.

8)      When visiting friends or relatives at mealtime, ask ahead what the menu will be. If there are not any foods your child will like, bring along dinner for them or make sure to feed your child dinner before you go. Your child will be much better behaved if they are fed.

9)      When opening gifts, set rules ahead of time. Tell children that no toys are to be opened until all gifts are open and gift wrap is thrown away. This may cut down on toys being broken before they are even used or items accidentally thrown away with the gift wrap.

10)  Take time to have down time at home with the family. It is important during this season to remember and cherish your own family. Plan nights for your family to stay at home either preparing for the holiday or simply spending time together. Taking time out for ‘family movie night’ can do wonders in letting everyone catch their breath and stay focused.”[3]

“There are really no hard and fast rules that will guarantee ‘perfection,’ but making plans ahead of time will give parents a better sense of control over the unexpected holiday stressors.

It is also important to know your own limits, and take care of yourself so that the kindness and patience of the season will not be spread thin. Remember the simple rules of structure, clarity, and positive incentives can go a long way in helping you to make your holiday season calm and bright! “[4]

Incorporate Play Attention into your holiday season and bring in the New Year with cheer and joy. Attend one of our FREE webinars:





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ADHD & Sleep: During the Holidays

Holiday Time Management

Can’t get them to sleep because they’re too wired during the holidays? It’s important to take a few minutes at the end of the day to sit in a quiet spot and talk about how the day went. Take that same time to review the schedule for tomorrow. Remember, fewer surprises mean smoother days to an ADHD child. You can review the day’s schedule (both successes and failures) verbally and visually. Post successes on the fridge.

Doing this on a regular basis may seem a chore for both of you at first, but adhering to this will settle their minds for a full night’s sleep and get them prepared for the following day. Additionally, it teaches them effective time management while helping you maintain your sanity!

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ADHD Adults: Start Pre-Planning for the Holidays.

ADHD Adults: Start Pre-Planning for the Holidays.

Tis the Season . .

When we think of the holiday season, we think of merriment and cheer, but for some adults with ADHD, this is not always the case. The shopping, the wrapping, the planning – all require organization, which can be a challenge to adults with or without ADHD.

The following is a compilation of great tips and tricks to stay organized, be efficient, and simplify this “holidazed” time of the year!

“Don’t forget that you set the tone for your home. Pace yourself and take well-deserved breaks!

List 1: Holiday Traditions

Create family memories by first holding a family meeting to discuss each person’s favorite traditions. It’s what you do, not what you buy, that’s important, so don’t overlook small but significant family rituals. This list might include:

Buy one new ornament for the tree
Keep favorite holiday music going in December
Hold a cookie baking session with the kids
Take holiday photos
Stock up on hot cocoa mix for Sunday evenings

List 2: Holiday Menus and Recipes

Plan to fix your family’s favorites – this is not the time to experiment!
Plan each course for the major holiday meals
List all the recipes you will use, noting the cookbook each is in and page numbers
List the ingredients you’ll need for each dish
List any specialty ingredients that you can’t get at the supermarket
Make a baking ingredients shopping list

List 3: Gifts

Break up your shopping by buying one or two gifts online each day. If you purchase from catalogs, place orders well before December 10 – to ensure that items are still in stock and to avoid express shipping fees. Make a shopping list that details for each person on the list:
Whether you will make or buy the gift
What you’re giving (keep homemade presents simple)
How much you can spend
The store or catalog where you’ll buy the gift. If you’re ordering online or from a catalog, write down the Web site and tracking number
Whether the present has been wrapped
Keep your receipts (in an envelope)

List 4: Dates to Put on Your Calendar

Fend off procrastination by reviewing this list each week.
Deadlines for homemade gifts
Shipping deadlines (mail early!)
Date to mail cards
Departure dates (if you’re traveling)
Arrival dates (if people are visiting)
Party dates
School, religious, office, and volunteer functions “[1]

“Louise Kurzeka, Minneapolis-based organizer, has three additional suggestions to help everyone make the most of their time and get the best use of their available space using practical, sustainable strategies.

A Gathering Place – Whether you’re having all the relatives over for Christmas eve dinner or just a few friends for a caroling party, start by designating a big tub or laundry basket as the gathering container for items you’ll need. By gathering items as you go and having just one place to look for them, you’ll be ahead of the game on the day of your big event.

Mad Money – Budgeting the dollars and cents of holiday spending can ruin anyone’s mood. But you’ll go from mad to glad if you simplify the process. Start with a sturdy business size envelope where you can list your gift recipients. Next to each name, pencil in the dollar amount you would typically spend on a gift for that person. Add up the amounts and compare the total to your checkbook balance. Are you within your budget? Go back to adjust the amounts as needed so you don’t end up with a post-holiday money-hangover!

Wrap it up – Hiding gifts, remembering where they are and digging them out to wrap them at the last minute is a lot more work than just wrapping them as you go. Commit to wrapping gifts as you return from each shopping trip. To make this job easier, decide on a place in the house that can serve as a gift-wrap center; a corner of the basement, a spare bedroom, even the formal dining room (comes with its own wrapping table!) Choose a place out of the main traffic areas. If needed add a card table so you’ll have a raised flat surface to use for wrapping. Stand wrapping paper rolls upright in a new garbage barrel or large pail. Place gift bags and tissue in one of the larger sized Ziploc plastic tote bags. Use another for bows, ribbon, gift tags, scissors and tape. The see-through bags make for a quick search for what you want and need. Unless you really enjoy the art of gift-wrapping, ditch the flat paper wrap. Bags are much faster (and reusable, so they’re environmentally friendly.)
Making just a few changes in how you handle common holiday chores can leave you with more time to enjoy the spirit of the season with the special people of your life.”[2]

We at Play Attention realize the holiday season can be a very stressful, overwhelming time of the year. Do you wish you could talk to someone who knows what you’re going through?
Simply call 800-788-6786, to schedule a free consultation with one of our experts. Tell us what day and time will work best for you to take about 15 minutes that will change your life. Our team of specialists have over 20 years of personal and professional experience with attention challenges. We will discuss your needs and provide you with a solution that will work best for you.

Remember Play Attention is a fantastic “Healthy Holiday Gift”! Give your loved one a gift that will last a lifetime – improved attention and a successful future![3]


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Thanks ADHD!

This Thanksgiving week, we get together with our families and give thanks for a variety of things.  Many of us in the Play Attention family live with ADHD, so we wanted to know what makes you thankful for ADHD.  We polled our clients and this is what we heard: 

1. I think having ADHD makes me incredibly creative – Mary, 22 year old college student

2. My son has ADHD, and he has a huge sense of humor.  He makes me laugh every day – Lilly, mom of a 14 year old son

3. I find at work I am more successful because I am able to think outside the box.  Thanks ADHD! – Richard, 46 year old software engineer

4. In my practice I specialize in working with ADHD adults. I find my clients to be extremely passionate about the people and causes they hold dear – Dr. Zhang, Psychologist

5. My closest friend and old college roommate has ADHD. We have been friends for over 20 years. I treasure her quirky personality and (slightly exaggerated) stories about her life adventures – Gwen, Vice President of Play Attention

6. Although many people say the risk taking behavior of a person with ADHD is a negative. I have found it to be a positive.  I have had many more exciting experiences and traveled to more places than many of my peers – Jillian, 30 year old photographer

7. I teach gifted and talented 6th and 7th graders. Many of my students have ADHD. These students never stop surprising me with their ingenuity. When given an assignment where you only think there is one possible end result, they tend to produce results you never considered! – Roman, Public school teacher

8. My daughter and I both have ADHD. It has given us a common bond that other fathers and daughters do not have. This bond has strengthened our relationship, and I cherish that – Bill and Melissa, Father & Daughter with ADHD

9. I am an ADHD life coach. My clients are extraordinarily resilient. Life continues  to be challenging, and they never give up  – Maria, ADHD Coach

10. ADHD gave us Jim Carey, Will Smith, Lisa Ling, Justin Timberlake, Mary Kate Olsen, Cammi Granato, Josh Freeman, & Bubba Watson – The Wells Family (Mom, dad, 2 daughters, and 1 son all living with and loving our ADHD.)

Play Attention
We Transform Your Mind. You Transform Your Life.
Call Now! 800-788-6786

Attend our FREE informational webinar to learn more. Register Here.

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Take Care of Yourself … First

You love your bright, creative, energetic, caring child. And yes, he also happens to have ADHD which often comes always take care of yourself firstwith these fantastic characteristics. However, there is the other side of ADHD. The side that results in constant calls from the school, doctor’s appointments, arguments, tears, and nights with endless amounts of homework. This is often the source of many challenges and frustrations. You can sometimes feel simply overwhelmed and exhausted. When these feelings occur, it is important that you remind yourself how important it is for you to take care of yourself.

Taking care of yourself when you are constantly focused on taking care of others can be difficult. You feel if you spend that 60 minutes at the gym or indulge in a much-needed massage, you are somehow being selfish. It important to remind yourself that taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is necessary. If you do not take care of yourself emotionally and physically, then you will not have the physical and mental resources to take care of others.

It’s been so long since you have thought about “me time”. What to do?

• “Walk it off”. Studies have shown that simply taking a walk in nature has a host of mental health benefits. Walking outside can improve your health and your mood.
• Find a parent support group. Look in your area for an ADHD support group. It may be a good experience for you to chat with other parents who are having similar experiences.
• Eat healthy. Eating clean foods and avoiding processed or fast foods can improve your overall health, energy levels, and clarity of mind.
• Don’t overschedule. You say, “Yes, I will make the cupcakes for the class party. Yes, I will drive the carpool for soccer. Yes, I can organize the field trip.” Did you forget there literally are only 24 hours in a day? You cannot do it all and take care of yourself. Overscheduling causes unnecessary stress and fatigue. Practice saying, “Sorry, I cannot do that this time.”
• Get enough sleep. It is recommended that adults get at least 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night. Minimal sleep loss takes a toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress.
• Schedule some leisure time. Why leisure time? Bradley hospital reports leisure time, “An opportunity to examine personal values, to focus on what is important to you. It gives you the balance you need to deal with your non-leisure activities.”

Take a breath. Take time for yourself. And all your loved ones will benefit.

Learn how you can help your child or clients improve attention, memory, impulsivity and more! Attend an upcoming webinar. Register here.

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Parents, ADHD Kids & Homework

New research can help this volatile mix

A new study by Dr. William Pelham, a leader in ADHD research, and his team, sheds significant light on homework skills, parenting, and medication. The researchers compared homework-focused behavioral parent training against medication.

The study found that ADHD children who did homework under the guidance of trained parents improved 10% to 13% in homework completion and about 8% improved in homework accuracy. That’s equivalent to the parent treatment group achieving an average C grade, versus an average F grade for those who didn’t get the parent training. Significantly, they found medication had nonsignificant effects on homework completion and accuracy.

The major tool the parents received during training was the Daily Report Card.

According to the study’s lead author, Brittany M. Merrill, “The daily report card . . . is a communication tool between parents and teachers and is a core component of most school-based behavioral interventions for children with ADHD. In our study, teachers set realistic goals for the children’s homework—assigning an age-appropriate amount and requiring 80% completion and 100% accuracy on the assignments. Parents evaluated how the child did on homework each evening and returned the note to the teacher the next morning in the child’s homework folder. Children then received small rewards in the classroom based on homework completion at home, in addition to the rewards they received at home for finishing homework.”

So what if the researchers combined medication with parent training? They tested that method and found it did not work any better than the parent training intervention alone.

Getting the right training seems to make a significant difference.

Need help with homework? Call 800.788.6786.

Attend an upcoming webinar and learn how you can use our Academic Bridge program to assist with homework!

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Top 5 Myths About ADHD that Confuse Parents

1. Girls don’t get ADHD. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that in many states, boys are diagnosed twice as often as boys. Girls often do not ‘act out’ or rebel as much as boys, so the squeaky wheel, i.e. boys, often get the diagnosis. ADHD does affect girls likely as much as boys.

2. Getting good grades means I don’t have ADHD. Many ADHD students are bright and make good grades. However, other areas of their lives are affected including social skills, organization, and finishing tasks.

3. Only hyperactive kids have ADHD. ADHD is now a generic term for 3 types of attention problems. The American Psychiatric Association categorizes ADHD into three subtypes: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined hyperactivity and inattention. So, kids with inattentive ADHD tend to be easily distracted but don’t display hyperactivity.

4. Most kids will outgrow ADHD. Long term studies have shown that most children do not outgrow ADHD. Some do outgrow it, but they are in the minority.

5. ADHD children and adults cannot pay attention. Absolutely false. Although your child may play video games for hours, they still can have ADHD. Give them something that truly interests them, and they will ‘hyperfocus’ on it for hours. Give them a typical classroom environment and they are often bored. Bottom line: they can pay attention — sometimes better than the average person. However, to do this, the stimulus must be something they are truly interested in or something highly visually stimulating. They lose attention quickly to less stimulating things.

Another Myth: ADHD cannot be managed. False! Attend our FREE Play Attention webinar and learn how you can be successful with ADHD!

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Know Your Rights

New guidance on the civil rights of ADHD students

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ensures protection of ADHD students under law. However, its special Section 504 often varies among school administrators.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has has issued a guidance clarifying the rights of ADHD students in light of nationwide allegations that schools were not providing ADHD students the services they need to be successful.

“Over the last five years, OCR has received more than 16,000 complaints that allege discrimination on the basis of disability in elementary and secondary education programs, and more than 10 percent involve allegations of discrimination against students with ADHD. The most common complaint concerns academic and behavioral difficulties students with ADHD experience at school when they are not timely and properly evaluated for a disability, or when they do not receive necessary special education or related aids and services,” states the OCR’s guidance.
To view the full release defining your child’s rights regarding evaluation/assessment and services go to:

If you want to learn more about your rights, or if you believe that your school is violating Federal law, you may contact the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, at (800) 421-3481, (800) 877-8339 (TDD), or

You may also file a complaint online at

Play Attention can teach your student the skills he/she needs to be successful in school. Call us at 800-788-6786 or attend an upcoming webinar to learn more.

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