Right now, your daily routine is NOTHING like it normally is. We’re a few weeks into “shelter in place,” so you’ve probably got a new routine going by now. Noncompliance can be an issue with life-as-we-never-knew-it.

Because my son has DS, ADHD, and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), I earned my Mom Degree at the “University of Well-that-didn’t-work-so-now-what”?! If opposition is a problem, this article can help you.

transitions are tough, so make it visual

Telling your child what he needs to do next, vs. showing him is the difference between screaming noncompliance vs. reluctant agreement.

One of many options for a visual schedule.

I learned years ago to make my life and my son’s life infinitely easier by using a (very) homemade “Schedule Board.” I made it with velcro to attach activity strips for the day. I planned it at the start of the day (for older kids, they can have input on the planning), and as he completed each activity, he took the activity strip down from the schedule. All done with that one!

The genius of this is in the arrangement. For example, if your child’s #1 preferred activity is iPad time, then the schedule might look something like this:

  1. Clear the dishes
  2. iPad time 
  3. practice reading
  4. iPad time 
  5. homeschool time
  6. iPad time
  7. sort the recycling
  8. iPad time
  9. etc.

These short bursts of happiness-inducing activities between “gotta-do” items are clearly visible mood-boosters. It sets the child up for compliance.

short-term memory is short, so make it tangible

But that’s not all; depending on how many of those fave activity breaks you give your child, you’ll want to make it for a specific duration of time. In the old days when my kids were small, before God invented DVDs, I made little laminated coupons for “Video Time.” Depending on the task done, those coupons were for 15 minutes or 30 minutes. I handed them the coupon when they had “earned” it by doing their chores/homework/whatever. They could save them and get more time all at once if they wanted.

If iPad time is the reward, then the iPad should be out of reach until the coupon is redeemed. If a coupon is too much trouble, an easy alternative is to use a whiteboard and write the reward minutes on it (unless the beneficiary is adept at erasing and re-writing the number to suit himself.)

You’ll need a timer in any case; when the timer goes off, the timer is the bad guy, not you.


  • I recommend you DON’T list a time for each activity. That will drive you and everyone else nuts. You need to have flexibility, not pressure. If you like, you can number the activities.
  • Make the schedule board SIMPLE and clear. Not cluttered and fancy. Your goal is to communicate clearly and therefore get cooperation. This is a clear, concise backup to what you’re already telling your child verbally.

Good luck, and may our New Normal soon be an Old Memory…



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Showing 2 comments
  • Kari

    How can I do this

    • Natalie Hale

      Hi, Kari- You can either create a schedule board from scratch, or order online from one of the many educational supply sites. I recommend