Following through with difficult tasks requires sustained mental or physical effort. It’s a toughness that we develop over time that allows us to complete things that are not easy. The term “grit” has been a focus of many schools to give students the tools they need to keep going when the going gets tough. Students with ADD and ADHD have a difficult time completing sustained tasks, and are more prone than their peers to say, “I give up!” What are some of these tools and strategies that can be used to make sure that these students keep making progress?
Focus on Interests to Keep You Going
Students with attention issues tend to complete only the tasks that interest them first. However, school (and life!) are full of tasks that need to be completed whether they hold interest or not. It is important to emphasize that they want to make a living doing the things that interest them, but it will require grit to complete the tasks that they might not enjoy as much. Keep focused on the end goal of finding and doing a job they love, while also stressing that it will still require tasks they may not enjoy.
Find a Bigger Meaning
When students are in the middle of a difficult task, they may have a hard time identifying the bigger meaning of what they are doing. Even with younger students, you can begin to identify what the larger purpose or meaning of a task is and try to relate it to a big purpose. This is especially true for projects in an area that they love—repetitive tasks will feel monotonous to kids with ADHD, even if they love the topic. Looking at the bigger picture or purpose can help students complete larger, more difficult tasks.
Surround with Success
When students are surrounded by peers who persevere, the culture of their friend group will not approve of giving up. For example, your child may find success and enjoyment in a maker space or robotics club with other students who are ready to complete the long-term, complex tasks required. These motivated surroundings help your child keep up their focus and energy.
Working with students who struggle with focus to complete long-term tasks requires grit from parents, teachers and the students themselves. However, the power of perseverance will propel your child through life’s difficult challenges!