sequenced planning


Active Member
Problem solving skills include the ability to define a problem , set goals, empathize - see other points of view and feelings, understands motives, look for alternate solutions and setting up a plan of action - sequenced planning. I read an article on ADHD where the author ( from the site that Fran got those great articles on depressions, relationships ) said that ADHD kids have a problem of sequencing. He mentioned CBT might help but to my disappointment the only advice for parents was implementing " traffic policeman " consequences - you can live with a fine but it serves to get compliance " - nothing to do with sequencing
Myrna Shure has a chapter on Sequenced planning in her book Raising a thinking preteen
Sequenced planning could be called means-end thinking, so having worked with the student/kid to establish and define a goal- for eg coming prepared for an English exam on Friday
we then establish a plan by asking the following questions
1 what steps can I take to reach my goal? What do i do first, second, etc ( work alone , together)
2 how long the step or steps might take - how long will it take to complete my plan 3 What is the best time to try/carry out the steps/plan ( time , good time , bad time , before , after )
4 what obstacles might interfere on the way toward my goal - plan to avoid or remove obstacles
5 How can the plan be changed if needed - insurmountable obstacles.
Sometimes the goal has to be redefined
Goals maybe task orientated - preparing for an exam, completing homework, projects, chores, having a party etc or interpersonal- making a new friend etc. Teachers/parents could ask the kid to talk about or write about his plans to reach certain goals. They need to be a little creative with topics and use dialog questioning to help the kid think of all the steps, timing and time element, possible obstacles and solutions. Kids usually ask these questions when they get stuck or reach a roadblock, have little sense of time or timing until its too late or not a good time , so with a lot of practice, these questions become part of oneself
Yours Allan

scent of cedar

New Member
Thanks, Allan.

I feel a liitle foolish bringing Dr Phil into this? But your post made me think of something he said about achieving goals.

So, here it is.

A goal is a dream with a timeline.

I really like that imagery!



New Member
Allan - I've found I have to "define" it a bit further. I can only give one step directions at a time.
For instance, if I tell NL to:
-go pick up your room
-make sure you have your homework done
-get your bookbag read for tomorrow
-take a shower

At the most, he'll walk in his room, look around, and get distracted by the first thing he sees and not do ANYTHING.
Instead, I say:
-go put all your toys away, and come back.
when he does, I'll then say:
-make sure all your clothes are in the dirty laundry, and come back.
It may seem to take more time this way - but in reality it doesn't, because there are steps getting done along the way. If I give him a list, he gets so preoccupied in trying to remember all I told him, that nothing gets done.

If it's a good day, or the tasks are truly related, I can sometimes go up to 2 or 3 at one "telling" but that's about it. I also have to help him break down long term assignments in the same way. I use a lot of note cards or sticky notes to give him his "direction", when that one is finished, it gets pitched and he gets the next one for the next step.



Thanks, my preteen difficult child may be ready to start viewing his goals in that way..........

Question: My Learning Disability (LD) daughter has this issue but I don't think can hanlde 'all' of this---does the author adapt this to those with more developmental challenges?




Active Member
The concept when using a problem solving , skills developing approach as Dr Ross Greene ,explosive child is to be the surogate frontal lobe for the kid. So by using dialog questions which Myrna Shure teaches us so well, we get the kid involved and thinking. You might do some suggesting but essentially you want to draw it out of them. When we talk and interact with our kids in this way we modeling and teaching so many skills. Involve your kids and plan together for eg making supper -
go through the questions, you can do it for so many activities. I highly recommend the Myrna Shure series. Research has shown that problem solving approaches especially when parents are actively involved helps behavior and also academic performance

Yours Allan


Hello Allan,

This past year we have worked extremely hard with Jame using what you describe as the Sequenced planning method. It has been a complete failure in my opinion. Perhaps we were not very successful in implementation or Jame is not at a skill level or developmental level to use this method or Jame's personality does not lend itself to this method. All I know is after working on this for a year, I no longer even like her and she feels like she can not do anything right.

I feel that we were successful in setting up the goal. I feel that we were successful in trying to implement the actions of the steps in the plan. I don't think Jame has the ability or awareness to evaluate or assess her actions/behaviors to make a change.

For example, if preparing for an exam was the goal.. she would agree to study with flash cards 15 every day without tv, music, computer, or other distractions. But she would not be able to tell if her mind was wondering or if she was actually retaining the information. Then when she doesn't do as well or actually does worse, then she feels bad about herself.

In reality, her last goal was to jump 7ft in pole vaulting before the end of track season (8wks). She had never pole vaulted before so to help her get started, she attended a weekend camp before the season started. At the end of the weekend she was barely clearing 5ft. As the season progressed, I worked hard with her to adjust her goal as she was not making any progress. She did not want to change the goal because she saw that as failing.

We had set up specific drills that were to help her build the muscle strength specific to pole vaulting. She was to jump so many times a week.

After 4 wks, we found out that the school did not have the right size pole for her. She had not progressed much above the 5 ft level. She attended a half day weekend speciality camp. We also bought her a pole that was recommend by the owner of the pole vaulting camp. In the end she was able to clear the 6ft mark in practice but did not even get close during the meet.

Through out the process, Jame often went physically through the motions but did not push herself or evaluate her progress. Yes she ran 10 dashes, but she didn't perform in such a manner to improve her speed. Yes she did the jumping exercises, but didn't push to jump higher or further with each jump.

Additionally, Jame has this big attitude/belief/personality trait of.. its (that's) good enough.

So how do you get the kid from looking at the line that indicates the minimum you have to do not to get in trouble/caught/get by.. to the line that indicates that you are exceling/improving/.. ect?

How do you get the kid to really understand or use the concept that its not how much you do but the quality of the actions that will make a change?



Active Member
I think when kids experience success they will be motivated or at least want to do well. My kid does well at school but with plenty of sitting with him, one teacher described him as being highly motivated to do well, part of his ego and self image but never seem to be able to translate that into action, he would only study the night before.
It is a question of skills as well as some major INERTIA problems ,getting him moving, is like kick starting a jumbo, things are getting better.
My daughter had a teacher who inspired and transformed her into one of the best all round kids in the school.Sequencesd planning is part of executive functions. Barkley sees executive functions as a performance deficit not a skills deficit. One of the EFs according to Barkley is the internalization of emotion which is used to create intrinsic motivation. According to Barkley ADHD kids lack intrinsic motivation , so they need stimulants and plenty of behavior modification- rewards and consequences. I don't think behavior mod. can internalize the desired behavior unless one is working on acquiring cognitive -(meta cognition) skills.Social skills and problem solving skills classes have not proved successful because these skills need a lot of on the job training and practice, they have to be used in the home, school with both parents and teachers providing learning experiences. - cognitive skills training - Pace program
Today Assisstive technology see
is being used to help with Executive skills
deficits , learning to use planners etc
With my teenagers what has worked is the positive influence teachers, older teenagers and young adults have in their lives as cheerleaders, confidants and guides. The young people , it could be a buddy tutor have more of a chance than we have with our kids. Again this is important to combat peer influence. I remember being in the car with difficult child and our neighbor who complained about his son's lack of motivation with his studies. difficult child asked the parent " Are his friends motivated or are they not interested in studying " or as friend said to me , my boys will start studying after the army , now they only have girls on their mind
As far as understanding the concept of quality, I was told if you exercise slowly, slow sit-ups, better quality it does more for you than doing a lot fast. Studying using techniques make learning more effective, you retain more and day-dream less. The ability to learn new skills depends a lot on your self image. If you see your failure as being derived from something innate in you, you will see no benefit in learning skills as something is wrong with you, but if you have a positive self image you will see the benefit of acquiring skills and using them and make an effort to acquire them.
Not easy, you are a parent that has put in tremendous thought , time into your kid, maybe bonding with a young adult may help or we will have to be accepting a wait for that magic light bulb moment
Yours Allan


Former desparate mom
Thank you Allan for the info. I am planning to help difficult child to set a timeline for a goal. I will use the resources you indicated as well as some other resources this summer.
difficult child has progressed very well but has not made the leap to setting himself up in a system that keeps his motivation focused on necessary skills.

I don't look forward to returning to the day to day of helping difficult child but it seems if we don't, he will stagnate or not continue to progress.
I am convinced he does not have the motivation in the proper areas. He can't set his goals because he doesn't know how to judge the priorities. If we don't cue him or influence him, he will chose what is important to him.

Thank you again for the urls.


maybe bonding with a young adult may help
Yes, this was one of the reasons we pushed for Jame to start taking a few college classes next year. The hope that she would bond with either young or older adult that will be a positive influence on her.

Thank you for the information.