The Question to Ask to Increases Motivation for Children with ADHD to Complete Homework

Children with ADHD are rewarded by the immediate gratification of getting out of a homework assignment (relief, avoidance, etc), and there is no emotion attached to getting tasks done. Emotions are a powerful motivator and are strongly connected to our self-motivation.

Have the individual ask himself, “What will it feel like when the task is done?”

1. Don’t be surprised if this questions is initially met with silence, because many have not considered that the task can be done. Whatever the emotion is, the individual should consider what it will feel like when he reached his goal (finishing the assignment).
2. Focus on the emotional sensation of “What will it feel like when the task is done?” (pride? sense of accomplishment? self-satisfaction? pleasure from those around?). The individual may currently be focused on the negative emotion of having to do the assignment, and being reinforced by the negative emotion and immediate gratification of getting out of the work. By changing his focus to when the task is complete, we begin to change his reinforcement and delay his gratification.
3. Visualize, verbalize, and feel what it is like getting the mundane assignment or any assignment done. It is a more powerful motivator for most as focusing on the potential positive consequence of getting it done because it can be rejuvenating and inspire feelings you can get by imagining how great it might feel to get to your goal. The individual should practice this for all assignments.
4. Practice self-talk statements that encourage efficacy rather than avoidance. For example, when one thinks, “this is so pointless” he should attempt to make a fair statement like, “I might not like every assignment, and that’s ok. When I am finished, I will feel ______.”
5. Put in place mini 3-5 minute breaks to recharge. Mini breaks can include walking up stairs, wall push-ups, listening to one song, getting a drink of water, etc. Mini-breaks do not include using screens, because hopping on a screen typically takes a lot more time. Save screen time for after homework. Breaks should rejuvenate, not distract..
6. Think of a reward for when all of the work is complete. Some examples include reading a book, going on social media, playing a games, etc. Rewarding oneself helps to increase motivation.


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