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Parenting: The 'Think-Through' Approach

Parenting a child with ADHD presents a set of challenges that are unique to every family. Establishing and maintaining routines - a fundamental aspect of child development - can prove particularly daunting. This post delves into the concept of a 'think-through' - a nuanced technique designed to assist children with ADHD in internalising and adhering to rules and routines.


The 'think-through' transcends the conventional reminder approach, representing a strategic method to embed routines into a child's long-term memory. This technique centres on actively engaging the child in the process of remembering and reinforcing a set of tasks, fostering autonomy rather than relying on external cues. It distinguishes itself from traditional reminders, placing the child in the role of primary executor of their responsibilities.


Example of a Morning 'Think-Through'

Understanding the practical application of the 'think-through' technique in a morning scenario provides insight into its efficacy. Below is a typical example of how a parent would implement a ‘think through’.


Parent: "I have some questions I’d like to ask you about mornings."

Child: (Reluctant groan)

Parent: "What do you have to do in the morning before breakfast?"

Child: "Get dressed. That’s all I have to do."

Parent: "That’s one of the things you have to do. What about your teeth?"

Child: "I need to brush them."

Parent: "What about when you’ve finished brushing your teeth?"

Child: "Oh yeah. I need to put it back."

Parent: "Yes, you remembered that you have to put your toothbrush back. So you’ve already mentioned: getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and putting your toothbrush back. There are just two more things you need to do before breakfast. But our minute is up, so I’ll ask you next time we do a think-through about the mornings."


Notice, how the entire interaction lasts no more than sixty seconds. There is a reason for this. If the ‘think-through’ goes on for too long, then the child will start to lose patience and become dysregulated. Furthermore too much information will overload the child’s brain and it simply won’t stick.

Benefits of the 'Think-Through'

The 'think-through' method actively involves the child, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility. By posing questions, the parent stimulates cognitive engagement, encouraging the child to articulate and internalise what's expected of them.


A distinctive feature of the 'think-through' is its emphasis on incremental recall. By prompting the child to recall tasks one by one, the routine is broken down into manageable components. This approach accommodates the cognitive processing challenges often experienced by children with ADHD, making adherence more attainable.


The 'think-through' recognises the importance of repetition in habit formation. Through regular sessions, routines cease to be mere tasks and become ingrained habits. This consistency is essential in promoting sustained adherence in day-to-day behaviours.


The 'think-through' method not only facilitates and reinforces routines but empowers children with ADHD to actively manage their responsibilities. By transforming daily tasks into habits through thoughtful engagement, parents can navigate the complexities of ADHD with patience and efficacy, cultivating a positive and supportive environment for their children to thrive.


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