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The Command Game

by Daniel T. Moore, Ph. D.

The purpose of this exercise is to increase your child's ability to remember instructions that are given to him/her. Many children with ADHD can not remember two, three or four instructions simultaneously. Often they will forget even single commands. Play this game often to strengthen your child's shortterm memory and help them become less distracted when following commands.

Start the game by telling your child about the game. If desired, other siblings can participate. The game's object is to see how many commands the child can successfully complete. Most children can get up to four, so four commands is a good starting point. For example, you may suggest: "First bring me a tissue, second, put the dish rag in the dirty laundry, third, turn on the light, and fourth, put the magazine in the magazine rack.

If the child is able to do all four, give him/her lots of verbal praise. Really make a big deal at being able to complete four commands.

Next, ask the child if he/she is ready to do five commands. Make up five more simple commands. If he/she completes all five, give a lot of verbal praise. Keep playing the game until the child forgets one of the commands. It is not important that the child complete the simple commands in the order that they were given.

When the child forgets one of the commands, the game simply ends for that day. Congratulate the child in getting the amountof commands he/she was able to do. This is the child's current record. Next time the goal will be to beat the child's record. If more than one child plays the game, parent's must stress for each child to beat their own record and not worry about how the other siblings are doing. A valuable principle can be taught when you stress competing against yourself rather than comparing yourself with others.

If your goal is to improve your child's short term memory, this game should be played at least daily, six times a week. Do not be authoritative about playing the game. Keep the game fun. You can add incentives to get the children to enjoy playing it. For example, you could say that if everyone breaks or matches his/her own record, the family can go to McDonald's or rent a video.