ADHD: How to help your child stay on time

by | Feb 20, 2019


There is an agreement throughout human society that the units of time are understood by all.  Cultural and family differences in the value of timeliness exists over the course of human history and throughout the world.  For adults, a relaxed social engagement may allow a 60-90 minute relaxed faithfulness to arrival time, but an employer will expect employees to walk through the door, settle in, and be ready to perform actual work at the appointed start time with no exceptions.

At an early age, a child learns to understand “five more minutes” when they are told that dinner will be ready in five minutes.  Children also understand the types of activities that can be completed in a five-minute segments of time, such as getting dressed five minutes before breakfast or getting their coat and backpacks ready five minutes before they must meet the school bus.

The ADHD child has problems with time management.  They can’t complete their work on time and they have trouble getting to school on time.  Problems in time management suggests a problem with rhythm.  A poor sense of organization suggests difficulties functioning within space.  When both challenges exist together, linear sequencing becomes disrupted.  It’s hard to share and hard to wait for your turn.  Turn-taking involves a rhythmical exchange of a toy or an action and involves components of both time and space.

The interplay of space and time can be associated with our early understanding of rhythm.  Introducing rhythm, sequencing, and timing at an early age will help children as they mature and begin to function within the complex rhythms of a modern society.  Tapping into and awakening our recognition of rhythm allows simple building blocks to reestablish; leading to improved processing of rhythm, timing, and spatial concepts.

If your child or student has difficulty getting things done within a reasonable timeframe, either completing them too quickly or too slowly, then help your child experience how long simple tasks take to complete by using a clock or a timer.  Choose a few tasks that they are already successful at completing and let them time themselves.  You can say, “When you listen to your favorite song it takes three minutes.  That’s the same time it takes to wash your hands and brush your teeth before school.”




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