Getting ready for school is a nightmare

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    • #81387

      My son was diagnosed with ADHD about six months ago. He is just turning 5 and also has speech apraxia and probably some learning disabilities. We started a trial of biphentin (intermediate acting) which seems to have helped quite a bit with his inattention, distractibility and overall insane energy level. However we are having huge issues in the morning when it is time to get ready for the day. EVERY morning we follow the same routine: wake up and pee, eat breakfast, get dressed, then meds before we get shoes on and go. I can get him into the bathroom fairly easily and his breakfast is waiting on the table for him, but when it comes time for him to get dressed…. he’s a nightmare. I know that he has executive functioning issues, and he is very much immature for his age. But he DOES know how to dress himself and where his clothes are. We’ve practiced for over a year. Some mornings he can do it without issue, but others he can’t even get started. I have a chart for him on the wall in his bedroom with pictures that tells him what his ‘jobs’ are for getting ready, with very simple language and photos. I can try to help him, I can get him started, I can repeat myself fifty times, I can yell, I can inform him that he will be leaving the house half-dressed/no shoes in two minutes if he’s not ready. It doesn’t work. He giggles, rolls on the floor, jumps on his bed or otherwise tries his best to ignore me. I’ve put my other kids in the car while he’s still fiddling with his shoes, in an attempt to get him to take me seriously and get moving, and he’s instantly in panic mode and sobbing that he’s being left behind. I am at my wits end. I’ve been advised by his OT not to do it for him, and I really don’t want to because it’s a life skill he needs to be taking care of himself and that he is capable of doing. So: do I look at a longer-acting med/ give it earlier so he has it in his system before getting dressed? Employ a different strategy to get the job done (and if so, what?)? Accept that he just can’t focus at that time and do it for him anyways? Line up a reward/prize he can play with if he gets organized quickly so he has more incentive? I have three kids and have to get them all out the door, and no matter how early I get up I just cannot seem to get this child ready.

    • #81397

      I have a seven year old (tomorrow) whom has been diagnosed with ADHD in the past month. We have ALWAYS had issues getting ready in the mornings or in general dealing with distractions. Some days are better than others, especially as he has gotten older. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to prod to get him to get dressed, get his shoes on so we can get out the door. What I can tell you is it HAS gotten better as he has gotten older. We still deal with “Ignoring” or “Not Hearing” when Mom or Dad will ask him to get his school clothes on, get his on, etc… We have found recently (upon a suggestion from our Pediatrician) that using an positive reinforcement method has been helping. Every time my son does something when asked (the first time) or anything positive we praise him and give him a mark on his hand. We count and record the marks at night and at the end of the week he can earn a treat (TV time, Computer time, Toy, Special Trip, etc…) It has been helping and has cut down on the yelling and frustrations on both sides. Granted we just started trying this method (and also just started a medication) – but I figure anything little thing that helps is a positive. Good luck!

    • #81401

      Truth? My son is 12 and I still set his clothes in a pile in the chair next to him at the breakfast table so he can change and head straight out the door. If I send him upstairs to his room to get dressed he will start down the rabbit hole of distractions in there and I’ll never get him back down. Should he be able to do it without my pulling out his clothes for him? Yes. But with all the battles there are to fight when ADHD is in the mix, this is one I’ve chosen to let go of. Getting everyone to school on time with as little drama as possible is more valuable than making him take that extra step of responsibility at this point in our lives.

    • #81436
      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

    • #81706

      I have the same issues but what i do now is go into his room early in the morning. I ask him to wake up just enough to swallow his pill. I then let him go back to sleep and by the time he is up the meds are kicking in and I can get him out the door!

    • #81719

      Wow. I had no idea that I might be helping him with this as a teen. NO idea. I knew he was developmentally behind, but I had been left with the impression if we worked hard at it and kept doing the routine enough he’d get it as a young kid. I’m rather floored. Obviously I am asking too much at once if it’s likely going to be a process that takes years. Thank you everyone for your feedback, you’ve opened my eyes a lot!

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