Mornings

If Your Mornings Are Hell, Read This

Kids with ADHD often lack the executive function skills needed to wake up, get dressed, brush teeth, and get to school on time without serious parental oversight. If that means nagging, yelling, and fighting in your household, try using this morning routine instead.

A young girl goes through her morning routine to get ready for school.
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Start the Day Off Right

Mornings are stressful for most parents, but when your child has inattentive or hyperactive ADHD and struggles with transitions, the challenges can quickly become overwhelming. Start the day off right by incorporating these expert tips into your morning routine. Just a few modifications, and you'll have your child with ADHD up and out the door more consistently, and more happily.

A mom braids her daughter's hair as part of their morning routine
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Delegate Morning Tasks

Call a family meeting to decide who will be responsible for morning tasks. For example, Mom will get the kids dressed, and Dad will handle breakfast. Don't forget to assign tasks to the children, too! Draw up a schedule for all to see. If you have young children with ADHD, include photos or illustrations representing the steps they need to take each day. Use a timer to move things along, if necessary.

A boy takes a bath as part of his morning routine
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Prepare the Night Before

The more your child does before bedtime, the less rushed she'll be in the morning. For example, switching bath or shower time to the evening will help ease the morning crunch. Shave minutes off of her morning routine by encouraging your child to pick out clothes the night before, place papers and books inside her backpack, and leave all essentials near the front door, where they can’t be left behind.

A mom puts her daughter to bed early so she is well rested for her morning routine
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Plan an Early Bedtime

Catching enough Zzz's is essential for people with ADHD. Start your evening routine early enough for your child to get the 10 hours of sleep he needs to wake up physically and mentally refreshed. The morning will go smoother if your child is well rested.

A girl with ADHD turns of her alarm, the first step of her morning routine
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Give Your Child’s Brain Time to Wake Up

If your child takes stimulant ADHD medication in the morning, give him his pill upon waking, then let him spend another 20-30 minutes dozing off or just relaxing before he needs to get out of bed. By the time he needs to start getting ready, the meds will have kicked in—leading to a calmer, more focused morning.

A parent wakes up a child with ADHD to start his morning routine
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Wake the Kids — Smoothly

Invest in a good alarm clock—you know, one that could wake the dead. Next, awaken with a gentle touch—many kids with ADHD 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.

A granola bar and strawberries, breakfast should be part of a good morning routine
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Serve Breakfast On-the-Go

Eating breakfast together is great, except when it isn't. If your child makes war at the table, or just has trouble sitting down and eating, let him enjoy his meal in his room as he dresses. Or give him breakfast to go in the form of a piece of fruit, a chunk of cheese, and a yogurt. Do what works and forget the “shoulds.”

A mom helps her daughter get dressed for school as part of her morning routine
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Reward a Good Morning

Let your child add a sticker to her chart or a token to her jar for getting out the door with a minimum of fuss. The right incentive can work wonders.

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