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Where did my sweatshirt go? 5 tips to get your ADHD child get organized

Updated: Feb 5

"My 10-year-old is an A+ student, and it comes naturally to her. She's brilliant. Yet every time the teacher assigns weekly homework, she gets overwhelmed and cries." Sound familiar? Here’s why.

"My teenage son has lost six sweatshirts this year. No matter how much I've told him to keep track of his stuff, they seem to vanish into a time warp."

"My 7-year-old loves reading. But I can't show my face at the library anymore. Each time we take home books, he loses them. Months later, I'll find one in the strangest spot."

If any of these sound familiar, join the ADHD parent club. It can be frustrating to parent a disorganized child, but it's equally frustrating to be disorganized. And it's not your child's fault. Children with ADHD have difficulty with their executive functioning or their ability to plan, organize, set goals, prioritize, and problem-solve. When we discuss organizing, we're talking about more than just keeping your child's room clean. We're talking about organizing information in their brain.

"Organization" is a cold executive function, meaning, it is purely cognitive. It includes our brain’s ability to organize thoughts and materials and prioritize tasks. In children with ADHD, because their executive functioning may be slower to develop, they often experience being "overwhelmed," making it even more difficult to be organized.

As a parent, help support your child by teaching them to reduce challenges and make their environment more ADHD-friendly.

  1. Diagnose & solve. Each kid runs into specific organizational challenges. But we, as busy parents, tend to get frustrated rather than fix. Instead, take note of which challenges reoccur most in your house. Think about "why" those specific issues are cropping up. Get creative about how to solve them. Remember to peg the recurring issues as life evolves and new problems appear. Take notice of those triggers and solve, rather than defaulting to the more common frustration response.

  2. Dialogue. Prioritization needs to be taught, and dialogue is the best way. For example, if your child comes home with overwhelming homework, teach them to prioritize urgency by mapping how long each task takes, when it needs to be completed, and how important it is. Wait for their input. Prioritize together, and help them organize their thoughts.

  3. Mantras - “Knapsack, water, sweatshirt,” knapsack, water, sweatshirt”. Mantras work wonders for helping remember a list of essential items. If your child keeps returning without critical items, teach them a mantra to recite at the end of the day. It gives them an easy mechanism for checking if they have what they need and looking for the missing item if necessary.

  4. Declutter. A highly effective way to support your child's organizational difficulties is to get rid of things that get in their way. Decluttering the areas your child needs helps. Sandals hidden amongst the rain boots? Move them to storage. Pencils and erasers lost amidst a sea of dried-out magic markers? Chuck the junk to give your child straightforward access to needed homework materials.

  5. Personalize it. There's nothing like having a dedicated space with your name on it. It makes you want to use it. It also keeps your stuff from getting intertwined with those of other family members. Create dedicated name tags with hooks for all your family members. It's more enticing for kids. It also eliminates the confusion of multiple sweatshirts and coats piled one on top of the other.

Unlock a wealth of invaluable insights and techniques to support your child in mastering cold executive functions. Elevate your own skills as a parent and empower your child to conquer tasks with confidence and proficiency.


  1. “Organization” is a cold executive function that children with ADHD struggle with.

  2. Due to how the ADHD brain works, it is hard for them to keep track of items and prioritize tasks. They commonly feel overwhelmed.

  3. Support your child by creating an ADHD-friendly environment. Diagnose problems and declutter spaces to reduce organizational difficulties. Map out tasks to teach prioritization.

Join Pery to receive more insightful tips like those in the blog, all tailored to fit your family's unique needs. We’ll not only equip you with personalized practical tools but also help you understand your child's specific ADHD nuances and impact, guiding you every step of the way in nurturing their growth.

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