ADHD management: effective planning

Managing behaviours

ADHD management: effective planning 

This section helps parents, carers and teachers to:

  • Identify actions to help manage ADHD effectively at home and school

  • Agree a management plan for a child with ADHD.

On this page:

  1. Why effective planning is important ↓
  2. Creating a management plan at home ↓
  3. Creating a management plan at school ↓
  4. Setting boundaries ↓

Why effective planning is important

Children with ADHD may exhibit more disorganised behaviour than children without ADHD. Their impulsiveness means that planning ahead can be a struggle and everyday tasks, such as following family routines, can be difficult.

Investing time in developing routines may help a child with ADHD to organise, plan and remember everyday things. Planning helps children to know what is expected of them and can help reduce stress within the home and at school.

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Creating a management plan at home

Consider creating a plan to help your child be more organised in the home.

Plan the plan

Make a list of the different tasks that are part of the child’s school day routine

Make the plan fun

Use colour-coding and pictures to make the plan clear

Show the plan

Put the plan somewhere obvious and accessible to the child

Be specific: break tasks into steps

Make it easier by breaking big tasks down into manageable steps. Explain that one step should be completed before moving on.

Reward what the child has achieved

Consider the use of rewards if the child is sticking to the plan

Keep reviewing and assessing the plan

Where the child consistently does not carry out a task successfully or on time, think about what you can do to help them or change the plan

Getting ready for school

You can use this tool with a child to show the tasks they need to complete to get ready for school.

Getting ready for school

A tool to help show children the tasks they need to complete to get ready for school

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Creating a management plan at school

Creating a plan for children with ADHD at school will involve discussions between the parents/carers and the teacher. Some points to consider:

Can the child sit in the same place in each classroom?

Can their seat be away from distractions, for example away from the door or window?

Does the child have enough time to get from class to class and settle in?

Are there clear boundaries and consequences for unacceptable behaviour?

These discussion guides help teachers, parents and carers to discuss and agree a management plan for a child.

Agreeing a management plan (for use by parents)

A discussion guide to help parents and carers agree with teachers a management plan for their child with the teachers

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Agreeing a management plan (for use by teachers)

A discussion guide to help teachers agree a management plan for a child with their parents or carers

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Setting boundaries

At home and school, it is important to set boundaries, making clear:

  • What behaviour is expected
  • What behaviour is unwanted
  • What the rewards will be for wanted behaviour
  • What the consequences will be for unwanted behaviour.

This may require a lot of patience, as it may take some time before wanted behaviours become part of the child’s day-to-day habits. Moreover, there will be many potential `triggers’ in the day that may lead to unwanted behaviour.

A management plan can help the child to understand that:

  • Their behaviour is a choice
  • How they choose to behave can result in rewards or consequences.

In this example, there are three steps for the child to understand about dealing with a problem:

Stop think choose, ADHD management planStop:

  • Take a deep breath
  • Try to calm down.

Think:

  • What can I do about this problem?
  • What are my choices?
  • What will happen with each choice?

Choose:

  • What’s the best thing for me to do now?
  • What will give me what I want, without bad consequences?

Using these three steps, here is a typical situation.

Choices and consequences

A cartoon strip to enable children to understand the link between choices and consequences, and how to deal with problems

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References 

Bjornstad G, Montgomery P. Family therapy for attention-deficit disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005; (2): CD005042.

Coghill D, et al. Child Adol Psychiatry Mental Health 2008;2(1):31.

Dosani S. Calm your hyperactive child (2008). Oxford, UK: Infinite Ideas Ltd.

Greenbaum J, Markel G. Helping adolescents with ADHD and learning disabilities (2001). San Francisco, US: Jossey-Bass.

Handelman K. Attention Difference Disorder (2011). New York, US: Morgan James Publishing.

Laver-Bradbury C, et al. Step by step help for children with ADHD (2010). Philadephia, US: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

O’Regan F. How to teach and manage children with ADHD (2010). Nottingham, UK: LDA.

Pfiffner LJ. All about ADHD (2011). London, UK: Scholastic.

Ziegler Dendy CA. Teenagers with ADD and ADHD (2006). Bethesda, US: Woodbine House.

These materials have been produced with practical advice and guidance provided by the expert European ADHD Awareness Taskforce.

Resources