5 Motivators for ADHD Youngsters to Get Something Achieved
Why they just can’t
Almost all parents we work with at some point ask the question “Why can’t my child just ________! “You can fill in the blank with a variety of sentences: … do his homework? … listen to me? … stop answering? … get out of bed in the morning? The reality is that you can’t just ________! Executive function challenged brain has to be really interested in something in order to act.There are only certain motivators that work for ADHD children (and adults!).
For people who don’t have any real challenges with executive roles, this can be one of the hardest things to understand, despite the fact that it’s a simple science. The presence of a motivator is what drives the neuro-pathways in the ADHD or anxious brain. Motivation is a powerful tool that helps people with executive challenges to take action!
When neurotypical people are confronted with something that they really don’t want to do, just press an imaginary “just get ready” button and voilà! You are able to make it happen. In the complex brain, the challenge is that the “Just do it” button is surrounded by a glass box! They can see it, but they find it very difficult to access.
Do you want to motivate children?
Download a free The Parent’s Guide to Motivating Your Complex Kid tip sheet to help your child find the motivation to … do anything and anything!
The five motivators
Motivation is important in helping a person with executive dysfunction get things done, and there are five things that tend to keep their brain motivated. Not everyone with ADHD or anxiety is equally motivated by everyone, but here are some pointers to help you figure out what works for your child. Remember the acronym PINCH (PINCH):
Games / creativity / fun / humor
People are naturally motivated by things that are fun, enjoyable, or enjoyable. This is even more true of people who need some kind of stimulation to engage or act – and there is no better stimulation than something that is fun, playful, or creative. Fun can tie in with other motivators, e.g. B. be interesting, novel or competitive. Most of the time, it’s a motivator in and of itself. Do you want to get a kid with ADHD to get something done? Turn it into a game and you are halfway home. As long as there is not much competition, the anxious child will love it too.
The complex brain seeks stimulation, and things that it finds interesting are stimulatory. Parents often complain that “my child doesn’t do anything they don’t want,” and that’s partly because it’s not compelling enough. Students do well in class with dedicated teachers and in subjects they find interesting. While “boring” kryptonite is to an ADHD or anxious brain, “interest” ignites an energy chamber full of fuel.
Complex brains are stimulated by things that appear new or different. This can be as simple as a distraction (“Oh, it shines!”) Or as complicated as any of the changes that come with the start of a new school year. Many students start out strong, motivated by new teachers, classmates, and schedules. As the school year progresses and is no longer new, their commitment begins to wane. Therefore new homework positions or new strategies can be helpful – effective is new interesting.
Competition is a great way to give some brains the stimulation they’re looking for. For some, the competition builds on many of the other motivators listed above. The competition usually offers a reward opportunity and often plays out someone’s strengths. Competition can offer interest, urgency, novelty, and play. However, because people struggling with anxiety can be stressed rather than motivated by the chemical reactions that accompany urgency, competition doesn’t work for everyone.
Hurry up (urgency)
People with complex brains often wait until the last minute to get things done – be it doing homework or leaving the house.
This is because the frontal lobe of the brain (where the executive functions are located) is sluggish and not properly stimulated to get things done. The urgency shifts to another part of the brain – the primitive brain – that provides the chemical stimulus to act. Deadlines can be very effective motivators for people with ADHD or anxiety (as long as they don’t create too many unrealistic expectations).
Find out what works for you and your child
As a parent, start by figuring out what motivates your child and helping them understand the role that motivation plays in their success. Over time, work with your child to find out what they see as their motivators. and eventually your child will learn to recognize their own motivators. When that happens – when your child begins to understand the concept and develop tools for self-help – then you know you have taught a life-long lesson.