Reward your child for participation and willingness to try rather than focusing on outcomes. Recognize his attempts to reach the goal and point out what went well and how close he was to getting there. It’s also important to help him see how to actually finish the next time.
Whenever possible, relate the current task or activity to projects your child has successfully completed in the past.
What you can say
“Jacob, you really hung in there today trying to clean up after your playdate. It was hard because you and Zachary took out so many toys and games. I know that made it difficult to get it all put away by yourself. I appreciate all your hard work. And even though I had to help you finish, I’m still going to reward you with some extra time tonight to play video games.”
“Next time Zachary comes over, it might be good to put one toy away when you’re finished playing with it before you take the next one out. You did a good job keeping up with that during your play date last week with Evan. That made everything so much easier in the end. But you really gave it your all today during cleanup time, and I thank you for that. Good job!”
Why this will help
Kids with attention and organization issues often don’t see that they’re almost finished with a task. Helping them evaluate what is necessary to complete the task often allows them to see just how close they were to the finish line. It also helps to point out that using a strategy that worked for them in the past can help them complete new assignments.
Taking this positive approach rather than criticizing the unfinished product will help your child do his work more efficiently. It will also help him get better at sensing how much more he needs to do to finish it.
It takes time, repeated effort and lots of moving of the goalposts to help children with learning and attention issues succeed. Celebrating the process rather than the outcome will help your child develop stick-to-itiveness and reduce his frustration. Remind your child—and yourself—that Rome wasn’t built in a day!