Motivation and ADHD

One issue that comes up frequently when meeting with children and adolescents with ADHD is lack of motivation, especially with academic tasks and homework.  Parents often report difficulties with their child finding ways to avoid assignments and homework, which can range from denying having any homework to hiding homework to reporting that it is already completed when it is not.  The avoidance seems to take as much or more energy than it would to actually complete what is expected.  These avoidant patterns can become frequent and persistent.

Suggestions for working with this type of avoidance and lack of motivation include the following:

  1. Create a solid communication system between home and school. I realize that this can be a challenge, but try finding one teacher (especially if your child is in middle school or high school) who can be a conduit of information and check in with what most teachers assign.  This may happen more easily if your child has a type of accommodation plan such as an IEP, 504 Plan, or a type of Student Improvement Plan (a more informal school plan).
  2. Have a frequent planning time where you review with your child what will be due within the next few days, the next week, and beyond if applicable. Help them with long term planning and keeping in the forefront of their mind what is coming due and how to time manage academic expectations and homework given their schedule of activities.
  3. Maintain a consistent time for homework and consider supervision during this time in order to maintain accountability and motivation. You may also consider a tutor, after school tutoring programs, or another way for this to occur if parent supervision creates parent-child conflict.
  4. Postpone media or screens until assigned work is completed.
  5. Have your child show you completed work and have them show you where they will put it in order for it to be turned in on time or as soon as possible, whichever is applicable.