Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Put it on the calendar.

What you can do

Help your child create a calendar that lists school assignments, afterschool activities, household chores and other commitments. Visually charting what has to happen by which dates will help your child see that there is an end point. Breaking tasks into manageable chunks can also make them feel less overwhelming.

If there’s a challenging step in a project, help your child figure out how to overcome that hurdle or who can help with that part.

Check in frequently to ask about any scheduling concerns and also to make sure your child is keeping up with the daily requirements toward the goal of task completion. Consider using additional reminders, such as sticky notes or electronic alerts that you can program into a calendar. Don’t forget to praise your child’s efforts along the way.

What you can say

“Wow, Jacob, you’re dealing with a block schedule. You’re getting homework from six teachers. And you’ve got tennis and choir practice. That’s a really busy schedule. I know it’s hard for you to keep all of this organized. Let’s make sure that at the end of each day you have added all the new information onto the calendar on your computer and look at tomorrow so you’ll be prepared for what’s next.”

“Thanks, by the way, for looping me in when you add events to your calendar that will affect other family members. Sending me an ‘invite’ to your concert rehearsal on Thursday was a great way to let me know you’d be home late for dinner that night. Do you think this system of using the calendar on your phone is working pretty well? Any ideas on how we can do it better? I’m really proud of you for juggling so much stuff.”

Why this will help

As children get older, their lives become much more complicated. Tweens and teens start to make commitments to a variety of sources—teachers, coaches, parents, friends, babysitting clients, etc. Some of these arrangements are made in writing and some are said out loud (and easily forgotten).

Calendars can help visually organize these commitments. This will allow tweens and teens to plan better. Calendars can help them make sure they’re doing the right assignment and going where they need to go, on time, with all the necessary gear.

Looking ahead is not something that kids with learning and attention issues do readily. Using a calendar will help them do this. It will also help them accept more responsibility for what they should be doing because it’s right in front of them and easily modified or added to.

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