Reply To: Getting ready for school is a nightmare

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Penny Williams

Remember, ADHD is a developmental delay. Kids with ADHD are as much as 30% behind their same-age peers in many areas of development. So, you’re really parenting a 3-year-old in many ways. You’ve done everything you can to support and facilitate the getting dressed process and he still isn’t successful on his own. That means that he’s not yet capable of completing the getting dressed process entirely on his own. Behavior expert, Ross Greene, says, “Kids do well IF they can.” Not when they want to or if they want to, but if/when they CAN. Your son isn’t intentionally frustrating you and he’s not consciously refusing.

So, yes, the goal is absolutely to have him dress himself on his own… someday. He’s not capable of that today, and he likely won’t be capable of it when his peers are. And that’s ok. This is the brain he was born with.

Try an immediate reward when he’s entirely ready to walk out the door at a certain time. I did that with a checklist for my son when he was 7 or 8 and it completely turned around our mornings. Here’s the details:

Wake Up and Smell the Calmness

At age 5, my son would not have been able to follow a checklist with success. Now, at age 15, I still get his clothes out for him, but he goes through all the steps to get ready, and he does it on time 99% of the time. Next, we’re going to work on setting out appropriate clothes the night before (He will just grab the first thing he sees, even if it’s short sleeve and it’s 25 degrees outside). Baby steps and lots of extra time are required to teach the lagging skills that arise from developmental delays.

ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism