Stop playing catch-up and help your child with ADHD plan ahead
Does your family suffer from Last Minute Syndrome?
You know the one. Symptoms include:
- Repeated use of phrases like “What do you mean it’s due TOMORROW?”
- Late-night shopping trips for poster board/glue sticks/birthday presents.
- Always being late or feeling rushed to get places.
- Sports equipment or school supplies forgotten at home.
The failure to plan ahead is a major source of anxiety and family conflict. It makes every task feel like a last-minute, high priority action item with little to know warning or preparation time.
Last Minute Syndrome, as we like to call it, can affect any family, but families with children with ADHD are especially prone to it. Children with ADHD often experience a delay in acquiring and developing executive function skills like planning, prioritization, and time management.
But don’t worry! You aren’t doomed to feeling blindsided by deadlines!
Hundreds of families have overcome Last Minute Syndrome with a Kaizen favourite family strategy – SPOT!
What is SPOT? How does it help kids with ADHD?
SPOT, or Sunday Planning and Organizing Time, is a simple but powerful weekly meeting. Gather your entire family in a distraction-free environment to discuss the coming week.
Each family member should use this time to share their plans for the week and how it affects other family members. Topics to cover include who is doing what, going where, who is picking up whom and what needs to be accomplished for the week.
You’ll be surprised at how much 15 minutes a week can change the game. Let everyone share who is doing what, going where, picking up whom, and what needs to be accomplished for the week. This gives adults an opportunity to plan for the week and gives children a chance to get their brains primed for the week ahead.
And that’s it! Once you experience the stress-relieving magic of SPOT, you’ll want to make it part of your family’s routine. Consistency is key in developing executive functioning skills and keeping your family routine on track.
Tips for Implementing SPOT
1- Individual calendars. We recommend a small, erasable whiteboard calendar for each family member to bring to the table for the group discussion. Offer visual, age appropriate planning methods for your children. Older children might do best using a paper planner or even a digital calendar.
2- Everyone contributes. Parents don’t talk AT children in SPOT meetings. Everyone contributes and uses their voice to share what’s coming up for the week and how it impacts others. Depending on your child’s age, allow them to bring up their weekly activities like sports or extracurriculars, even if you know about them. Let your children share special exciting events like birthday parties. You can offer gentle reminders as needed.
3- Model the desired behaviour. The goal at the SPOT meeting is for everyone to share their week’s plans. This allows you to know when and how to support your child. Model the type of information you want them to share. For example, you could share an upcoming work deadline or an errand you need to run. These activities do not involve your child, but talking about them demonstrates that you are planning ahead for your week. This way, your kids won’t feel out of place discussing their homework deadlines.
4- Be patient. Your kids might stare at you blankly during the first SPOT meeting. And the second. And maybe even the third and fourth. This can be frustrating. Remind yourself that executive function skills are learned, not born. You have years of experience planning your week! In time, you will be amazed as your kids develop autonomy and accountability. If your child makes mistakes, help them get back up, dust off, learn from what went wrong, and keep practising.
5- Have fun! SPOT is there to relieve stress and prevent anxiety. Get creative with colourful markets, stickers, emojis — whatever works for your family! If you have a family calendar, let your children add their tasks to it in their own colour. Plan SPOT before or after a family favourite activity. It’s a great time to be together in a stress-free way.
And that’s all there is to it! SPOT isn’t some big project that takes weeks of planning. You could start today!
Save our SPOT strategy one-pager to help efficiently run your SPOT meetings.