It has often been said, “The worst part of the day is getting up.” However, if you are a parent of a school-age child, the worst part of the day is trying to get your child up and ready for school without a battle of epic proportions. This is especially true if your child has ADHD.
Dr. Patricia Quinn shares these expert tips to bring peace to your home and to get your ADHD child up and out the door on time. These are paraphrased for you below:
Start the Day Off Right: Mornings tend to be stressful for many parents, but when your child has inattentive or hyperactive ADHD and struggles with transitions, any challenges can quickly become overwhelming. Start the day off right by making the few modifications noted below to get your ADHDer up and out the door more consistently, with everyone happier for it.
Delegate Morning Tasks: Have a family meeting to determine who will be responsible for given morning tasks. For example, mom will get the kids dressed; dad will fix breakfast. The kids should have task, too. Draw up a schedule and put it where everyone can see it. If your ADHDer is young, include photos or illustrations representing the steps they need to take each day. Use a timer to keep things moving along.
Prepare the Night Before: The more your child prepares the night before, the less she’ll be rushed in the morning. Switching bath or shower time to the evening will help ease the morning crunch. Shave minutes off of her morning routine by encouraging her to choose her clothes the night before, place papers and books inside her backpack, and leave all essential near the front door, where they can’t be left behind.
Plan an Early Bedtime: Getting enough sleep is essential for those with ADHD. Start your evening routine early enough for your child to get the 10 hours of sleep he needs to wake up mentally and physically refreshed. Mornings will go smoother if your child is well rested.
Give Your Child’s Brain Time to Wake Up: If your child takes stimulant ADHD medication in the morning, give it to him as soon as he wakes up, then allow him 20 – 25 minutes of dozing off or just relaxing before he has to get out of bed. By the time he needs to start getting ready, the meds will have kicked in which will lead to a calmer, more focused morning.
Wake the Kids – Smoothly: Invest in an alarm clock that could wake the dead! Next, gently awaken with a touch – many ADHD kids are extremely sensitive to touch. Finally, let light into the room. If it’s naturally dark outside at night, leave the curtains parted to allow natural light to wake your child in the morning or install a dimmer switch and turn up the light gradually.
Serve Breakfast On-the-Go: Eating breakfast together is great, except when it creates a problem. If the table is a place of war or if your child has trouble sitting down and eating, let him enjoy his meal in his room as he dresses. Another option is to allow him to have breakfast on-the-go in the form of a piece of fruit, a chunk of cheese and a yogurt. Do what works and let other people worry about the “should.”
Reward a Good Morning: Let your child add a sticker to her chart or a token to her jar for getting out that door with a minimum of fuss. The right incentive can work wonders. (For older children, work together to determine the kind of reward that might be appropriate.)
While these tips are geared towards children with ADHD, they will work with any child who has trouble getting out of bed and out the door on time.