ADHD Transitions Strategies For Kids

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Transitions can be particularly challenging for parents of children with ADHD. It can be overwhelming and confusing to know where to begin when our little ones, who have unique ways of thinking, struggle with transitions. But fret not, we’re here to help! Below, you’ll find a selection of effective ADHD transition strategies that you can implement at home to support your child through these tough moments.

Why Is Transitioning Between Activities Difficult for Kids With ADHD?

Imagine this: Your son with ADHD is watching his favorite television show. You go turn off the tv, and let him know it’s time for dinner. This leads to a breakdown and tantrums. Is this scene familiar? It is for many parents with children with ADHD. What causes this tantrum? It can all go back to the transition moment. 

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Read more: Tantrums vs Meltdowns

Part of understanding why this transition is so difficult is understanding how kids view time. When children are very young, they have no concept of time. Telling them two minutes doesn’t mean much to them. However, as they grow older, they can start to conceptualize time.

For children with ADHD, this remains a struggle. They often only understand the now and the not now. The now is what is happening currently, while the not now is sometime in the future. This could be hours, days, months, or more down the road. 

parents with their two children discussing transition strategies for kids with adhd
Read more: ADHD Behavior Charts

When your child becomes hyper-focused, they are in the now. Right now, they are enjoying their tv show, and they want to continue enjoying it. They are receiving some type of reward from watching that show, and while they might be hungry, they struggle with the emotions that come along with switching from one task to another.

4 Transition Strategies for Kids with ADHD

For successful transitions, you need a plan in place. There are several strategies you can use to help kids with attention-deficit disorder with transitioning between activities. 

1. Make Routines Consistent

Routines are very helpful to children with ADHD. Creating a consistent routine can help with dealing with ADHD because your child will know what to expect. We get it, life happens, and you can’t always stick to a routine. However, sticking to a routine as much as possible and preparing your child for changes when they happen will still be helpful. 

2. Empower Kids to be Independent

As you’re creating a routine for your child, consider how you can help them be independent with transition strategies. You can do this by creating visual schedules and checklists for your child. Creating these will allow you to let your child take the lead when possible. Make sure that the schedule is in a spot that gets your kiddo’s attention.

Read more: ADHD Sleep Issues: What to Know and How to Help

3. Create Rewards and Token Boards

You can set a schedule; however, what will motivate your child to follow it? Creating a rewards system will allow your child to earn privileges as they complete the tasks they’re supposed to. Work with your child to see what kind of rewards they would like.

Rewards can include things like: 

  • Screen time
  • Dinner at their favorite restaurant
  • Game time
  • Movie
  • Toys

Talk to your child about what they would like to earn. If your child completes tasks faster than the allotted time you give them and they still do a good job, you can even give them extra reward points. 

(If you’re using Goally, it will keep time add the points for you automatically!)

Read more: The Power of Token Boards

4. Transition Strategy: Make Sure Kids Always Know the Next Step

What’s the next step in your child’s routine? Part of helping your child with transitions is preparing them for the transitions that are coming. Make sure that they know what the next step will be. For example, if their TV time is ending because of dinner, make sure that they know the next step will be to wash their hands.

mom talking to her son about transition strategies with her son who has adhd

After that, the next step will be to go to the table. However, don’t overwhelm your child by giving them too many steps at once. Simply begin preparing them for the next step. 

Tips on Starting New Transition Strategies

How do you begin implementing these strategies without overwhelming your child? The key is to start slow. Don’t automatically throw multiple new things at them at once. That’s overwhelming for anyone. Another important thing is to get them interested.  

How Can You Get Your Child Interested in Routines and Transitions? 

When you start with new routines, start with things that are fun. For example, if you start with a bedtime routine, your child might not be as interested, especially if bedtime has been a pain in the past. Bedtime is not generally associated with fun. However, if you start with a routine for coloring, making lunch, stretching, taking care of pets, etc. they will see that routines are just there to suck the fun out of everything. 

Read more: Autism Meltdowns at Night or Bed Time

Another great way to promote transition strategies is to motivate them with rewards. When they complete a task or a routine, add points to their token board. Teach them to save up for small, medium, and large rewards. This can make completing routines and activities feel like a game and encourage your kiddo to participate. 

Try Goally For Your Child With ADHD

Goally is an excellent option for many families that have a child with ADHD. Use game play as a points-based motivator for your kiddo with ADHD, help them learn emotional regulation skills, and watch them grow! It’s simple to set up and has an expert-informed design.

Goally is the best skill building tablet for kids to learn life skills like brushing teeth, getting ready for bed, morning routines, social skills, and more. The text reads "Goally: The skill Building Kid's Tablet"

Start Using ADHD Transition Strategies With Your Child

Transitions can be difficult for children with ADHD – using some of these ADHD transition strategies can help your child learn to transition between activities. Having the right tools to help with this process is important. Be sure to try different things to see what your kiddo enjoys the most!

This post was originally published on 02/04/2022. It was updated on 06/19/2023.

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