The Morning Routine
In many families, the friction starts soon after the alarm clocks sound. It’s not easy to coax a spacey, unmotivated ADHD child out of bed and into his clothes; the strategizing required to get the entire family fed and out the door on time would test the mettle of General Patton.
Getting off to a slower start can make all the difference, say parents. “We wake our son up a half-hour early,” says Toya J., of Brooklyn, New York, mother of eight-year-old Jamal. “We give him his medication, and then let him lie in our bed for a while. If we rush him, he gets overwhelmed — and so do we. Once the meds kick in, it’s much easier to get him going.”
Some parents aren’t above a little bribery. “In our house, it’s all about rewards,” says Jenny S., of New York City, mother of Jeremy, age seven. “Every time we have a good morning, I put a marble in the jar. For every five marbles, he wins a small reward.”
Amy B., of Los Angeles, mother of Jared, age seven, is another believer in reward systems. “If the TV is on, it’s impossible to get him moving. Now the TV stays off until absolutely everything is done and he’s ready to go. He moves quickly because he wants to watch that television.”
Another way to keep your morning structured and problem-free is to divide it into a series of simple, one-step tasks. “I’m the list queen,” says Debbie G., of Phoenix, mother of Zach, 10. “I put a list on his bedroom door that tells him step-by-step what he needs to do. I break his morning routine down into simple steps, like ‘BRUSH TEETH,’ ‘MAKE BED,’ ‘GET DRESSED,’ and ‘COME DOWNSTAIRS FOR BREAKFAST.’ The key is to make it easy to follow.”
What about kids who simply cannot, or will not, do what’s asked of them? When 10-year-old Liam refuses to comply, his mom, Dina A., of New York City, shifts into “if-you-can’t-beat-’em,-join-’em” mode. “I can’t believe I’m admitting this,” she says, “but I wake him up and bring him cereal in bed. Once he’s gotten something to eat, he’s not as crabby.”
Number Two: Behavior Patterns