Divide a troublesome task into smaller, more manageable parts. Then help your child tackle them one at a time. Experts call this approach “chunking.” Talk about each chunk so your child can see that not everything about the task is difficult.
If possible, explain the task using concrete examples that your child can relate to from past experience. Pointing out which parts of the task he has successfully done in the past will help boost his confidence and make the goal of finishing the task seem more achievable.
Be sure to also schedule frequent, short breaks and provide incentives along the way for completing each segment of the task.
What you can say
“Jacob, you have 15 math problems to do tonight. Let’s divide them up into three sets of five, and you can take a short break after each set. Working on chunks like these seemed to help you last week. What do you want to do during the break periods? Play with the dog? Or maybe rock out to one of your favorite songs?”
Why this will help
Chunking tasks makes them appear more manageable. It helps children to see that each project has a beginning, middle and end. Kids who don’t have this kind of road map may get easily frustrated or anxious. They may have trouble getting started or may give up along the way because the task seems to have no end in sight.
Chunking is particularly helpful for children who are easily distracted. Kids with attention issues have trouble staying focused on tasks that require sustained mental effort. They may be overwhelmed by the amount of information presented on a worksheet. Or they might be distracted by noises, nearby objects or even their own thoughts. Chunking can help get them back on track.