using timers

Helping Kids with ADHD Finish Their Homework and Chores

Using Timers to Help Kids with ADHD Finish Their Homework and Chores

Using Timers to Help Kids with ADHD Finish Their Homework and Chores

Are you frustrated and irritated because your ADHD child is not finishing their homework?

That is not their fault!

ADHD kids struggle hard to complete their homework and other chores. ADHD is real, and so is their struggle. However, putting in some effort and deriving some unique and workable strategies to make your child work can help you both.

Why do children with ADHD not complete their homework and chores? 

Because they lack executive functionstime management, social skills, self-control, flexible thinking, etc., they need executive coaching – be it professional or parental. 

Therefore, we have created this article to help parents of ADHD children finish their homework and chores with ‘timers.’ This will provide you with the best timer techniques and other ‘To-Dos’ to help your child complete their tasks without struggle.

How Timers can Change the Life of your ADHD Child – A Case Study.

Before taking you to the ‘know-how’ of the topic, I want you to see – how timers have changed the life of ADHD people. 

Sarah Oberg, who has ADHD, struggled to do simple tasks like washing her hands and dishes. She feels fog in her brain, and time seems to flow slowly. Completing household chores with all this in her head was impossible. 

Therefore, she experimented with different strategies. And after much trial and error, she discovered that adding a sense of urgency triggers her mind to produce chemicals that help her complete tasks from start to end.

She sets a timer for 3 minutes and races the clock to complete a particular task. For instance, she starts with loading and unloading dishes. Furthermore, she decided to improve and took the time interval less than required to create little pressure. 

Note – Some ADHD children perform better under pressure, while others do not. Adding additional stress can elicit unwanted anxiety in some individuals. 

However, this strategy helped Sarah break down large mundane tasks into smaller timed pieces. For example, now cleaning the house looks more manageable to her.

She says the more she learns about her brain, the easier her life becomes!
Credits – The Mighty.

Understand how ADHD Child Perceives Time

A child with ADHD is too much in the present and cannot see into the future. They do not know how fast time is passing. It may be 30 minutes for you, but an ADHD child perceives it as 15 minutes or  10. 

‘By the time you feel it, it’s too late’ – Russell Barkley, Ph.D.

If a child with ADHD is playing with Legos, then they are only playing with Legos without thinking how long they have been playing or how much time is left – they are in the moment. Meanwhile, if you ask them to get dressed and come for dinner – after 5 minutes, you will see the child is still playing with Legos. But that is not their mistake! Do not get frustrated. An ADHD child stays in one window (it was ‘Legos’ here). They struggle to understand time and switch to other tasks.

How to Help Your ADHD Child Complete Homework and Chores on Time?

My ADHD child perceives time differently! 

But now what? 

Can they complete their chores on time? – YES, if you are committed to making them work without getting frustrated and losing your temper.

‘Time management is a practical skill that helps ADHD children to understand task structure – the deadline of one task, their next task, etc.

  • ‘Timers’ are the best way to help ADHD children manage their time. Timers have become the proven solution to get ADHD children aware of the time.
  • Timers leave a positive impact on ADHD children.
  • Timers increase engagement rates among ADHD children.
  • Timers promote self-dependence in ADHD children.
  • Timers help ADHD children reduce the effort and time in transitioning from one task to another.


Using Timers to Help Kids with ADHD Finish Their Homework and Chores

using timers

Many strategies help ADHD children complete their homework and chores using timers. The two smart ways of using timers:

1. Pomodoro technique 

Francesco Cirillo created the
Pomodoro technique in the 1980s to help people manage their time. It focuses on aggressively working on one task for some time and then taking a short break. This framework promotes productivity and concentration. The working structure:

  1. Assign an assignment to your child and set a 25-minute timer. Ask your child to work on the task until the timer goes off.
  2. When the timer goes off – Give your child a break and offer rewards like a favorite cookie or a cute gift. 
  3. After four 25-minute sessions, set it for a break of 15-20 minutes.


2. Timer Blast

This strategy allows flexibility in the time intervals. Remember, not every child can concentrate for 25 minutes in one go. Therefore, parents have the flexibility to choose the timers like 5 min, 10 min, 15 min, 20 min or so…and give them a 5 min break. The working structure:

  1. Assign a task to your child and set a decided interval timer. Then, ask your child to work on the job until the timer goes off. 
  2. When the timer goes off – Give your child a break and offer rewards like a favorite cookie or cute gift. Then, repeat the same and stop when your child feels exhausted. 


What To Do During Breaks?

ADHD struggles to relax and reset. Therefore, what you do during breaks is crucial. They may be frustrated while doing one task for a longer time or switching between them. Therefore, you must use the breaks to let their mind relax.

➡ Movement breaks

Study shows that kids learn faster after exercise or body movement. The primary goal of the break is to shift the child’s focus. So if they were sitting for a while, make them do some body movement or walk to facilitate an increased blood flow to the brain. Different types of movement breaks include:

  • Stretch
  • A walk
  • Running
  • Yoga activities
  • Cross crawls
  • Frog hops


➡ Quiet brain breaks

Not every child needs movement breaks. Some children want to be quiet after focusing for a while. And for the kids who need silent breaks – sitting quietly can be the best brain break. A quiet brain break includes-

  • Sitting quietly for some time
  • Breathing activities
  • Guided meditation
  • Slow garden walk


How to Choose the Correct Timers for Your Child?

The kind of timers you use plays an important role. Therefore, always use a timer that suits your child. The two most worked timers are-

  • Visual timers

It makes your child more aware of the time. Also, they will know how much time they have spent and how much is left. These come up with different colors and styles to create awareness among ADHD children of how much time is left.

  • Timer Apps

Innovative timer apps are available for smartphone users. Developers have added different elements to get your child aware of the time. Bar graphs, line charts, and other fun stuff are added to those apps to help ADHD children perceive time.

Other essential elements included in the timer strategy:

Maintaining a healthy environment around your child is essential to keep him excited and going with the tasks. The ADHD mind wanders a lot; therefore, try keeping things that elevate their willingness to sit on work and complete it.

  • Keep a ‘Done-box’

It is crucial to keep up your child’s enthusiasm throughout the process. Keeping a ‘done-box’ on the table and putting in slips of completed tasks will keep your child excited and motivated. And due to the excitement and enthusiasm, chemicals are released in the brain, which will help them to complete their homework and other chores.

  • Prepare a ‘progress chart.’

Pin the progress chart on the soft board. It will help children visualize how far they have come and how long they still need to go. It will also help ADHD children self-regulate when completing homework and other chores.

Multiply the Results: A Word from Themba tutors.

Parenting an ADHD child is hard. Making ADHD children honor time is equally challenging. However, timers are great visualization tools that help your child complete homework and other household chores. If you are still facing problems in making your child complete tasks – You can take the help of professionals like us – Themba tutors. We have coached thousands of ADHD children, and we can help your ADHD child to manage time and complete their homework. In addition, coaching your ADHD child for executive functions is the best step you can take to make their future bright. You can reach out to us anytime for counseling and coaching!



Need help for students with ADHD finish their homework and chores?
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Craig Selinger, CEO of Themba Tutors (serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut), is a NY State licensed speech-language pathologist, executive functioning coach, and learning specialist with over 18 years of experience working professionally with over a thousand families. His expertise includes language-based learning issues, e.g. reading, writing, speaking, and listening, executive functioning, ADHD/ADD, and learning disabilities. Check out his interviews with top-notch professionals in the field on Spotify.
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