Iced Marbles, Dog Kisses, and Other Creative Ways to Get Your Kid Out of Bed

When alarm clocks don’t cut it, our readers use tickle monsters, late fees, phone privileges, and these other unusually effective strategies to light a fire under kids with ADHD who can’t wake up in the morning.

A boy is unable to wake up in the morning, a condition common to children with adhd.
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How to Wake Up Your Child

Getting a child who has ADHD up and out the door each morning is not for the faint of heart, but take comfort in knowing that you're not the only parent fighting this daily battle. ADDitude readers share some strategies they've deployed for waking their sleepy troops with tactics ranging from wacky to genius. Read on to steal their best tips and get a few laughs.

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Treats for Breakfast

"Once a week, he and I go to breakfast out — but only if he is up and the rest of his routine is done every day." -carebear95

"Both boys know that if we are ready and out the door on time, we get to do a 'morning drink stop' for something special on the way to school. It’s a win-win for everybody!" -Tonya

A dog licks the face of a child with ADHD to wake him up in the morning.
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Enlist the Family Pet

“My 9-year-old had trouble waking up, so I enlisted our family dog to help. I put peanut butter on my sleeping son’s face and have the dog lick it off — it works!” –An ADDitude reader

"I try to shift my focus to taking the dogs outside and then letting them do the dirty work. They jump all over my sleeping bear son, starting his day with more love than he can handle. It’s sneaky, I know — but it tends to work most days!" -Monica

[Free Download: Routines for Morning and Night]

A girl with ADHD writes a morning checklist on a white board.
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Check List Motivation

“We posted a laminated checklist and the kids check off each item as they complete it (wake up, get dressed, brush teeth, etc.). Once the list is complete, they can have screen time until an alarm goes off indicating that it is time to walk out the door. Mornings are a breeze now!” –Fiona

"We use visual aids to stay on track — and lots of patience." Jtaylor8207

Iced marbles are a creative way parents get kids with ADHD out of bed in the morning.
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The Marble Method

“We have placed marbles in the freezer and then under the covers with our 18-year-old with ADHD — he hops out of that bed super-fast after that!” –Lindsay

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Teen-Specific Rewards and Consequences

"In the morning, our teen's incentive to wake up is her device — which she can use only if she is ready by a certain time." -pmidha

"One consequence that is extremely effective right now is that every day that our son is not up and out of bed by a certain time adds a day to when he can go and get his driver’s license. So if he is late getting up 3 days this week, for example, that's 3 more days until he can go get his license!" -irishtide

"We use one alarm with the highest and most annoying sound, set for 30 minutes before wake-up time. We then reinforce getting up on time with a points/rewards system." -Rute

"Our incentive for him now is Drivers Ed. He has to get up early to go — so if he can show us he can get up now, he'll be able to do Drivers Ed later on." -Tammy

A tired boy with ADHD turns his alarm off because he hasn't had his morning medication yet.
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Pre-Med Wake-Up

“We give our 13-year-old son his ADHD medication 30 minutes before his alarm goes off. This helps him wake on his own to the alarm. Then, as a family we use to-do charts and timers to stay on task each morning. Plus, the TV is not allowed to be on before school!” –Lis

[“Morning Is My Son’s Nemesis”]

A boy with ADHD listens to headphones.
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Start the Day with Music

“I set my 9-year-old son's alarm clock to music. He is awake and singing the songs by the time I come upstairs to wake him up. The music gets him moving in the morning.” –Nanette

"We make sure the alarm music isn't so relaxing that it just melds into our son's dreams!" -harrisdoreen08

A girl with ADHD is asleep in bed.
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Start the Night Before

“It's corny, but I tell my kids that a good morning starts the night before. We try to pick out clothes, set the table for breakfast, and put backpacks out the night before. Getting a good night's sleep can be challenging with ADHD meds, so to help we've been using a white noise machine and scented oil on their feet to help them settle down for bed.” –An ADDitude reader

"We start preparing for the day the night before. Before my teen goes for her shower, we make sure she has her bag packed and clothes ready for the morning. She also needs to go off her devices at least two hours before her bed time." -pmidha6

"I have found that making sure he gets to bed early and not allowing him to have technology at bedtime has been the true key to successful mornings." -cnhendrix

A boy with ADHD shoots a squirt gun.
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A Surprise Shower

“After two whacks of the snooze button, out comes the squirt gun!” –David

Girl with ADHD sleeping with alarm clock at bedside table
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Try Strategic Alarm Placement

“I put my daughter's alarm clock on the other side of the room, far from her bed. This forces her to get up to turn it off.” – An ADDitude reader

"We start with 2 alarms — and we put the alarms across the room so he has to get out of bed." -AlwaysLearning

A mother wakes up her child with ADHD.
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Use the Magic Touch

“My son needs physical contact to wake up. I start out by touching his arm and hugging him on the way out of bed. Once he is awake, I remind him of what he needs to do, one thing at a time, as the morning progresses.” –An ADDitude reader

"I rub his back to help stimulate some alertness." -harrisdoreen08

A mother tickles her son with ADHD to wake him up.
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Deploy the Tickle Monster

“I sing and clang around in the kitchen until my boys wake up. If that doesn't work, then the tickle monster jumps into bed with them! That always gets them up and giggling.” –Stacey

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A Little Late-Night Fun

"The rule in our house is that he can stay up 15-20 minutes longer reading or doing a quiet activity (drawing, writing…) as long as he gets up and gets his stuff done in the morning. If he doesn’t, that tells me that he’s not getting enough sleep and needs to go to bed at his regular time. Once I remind him that he’s not going to get to stay up tonight, he usually gets up!" -dmm0456

A woman opens the curtains to wake up her child with ADHD.
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Try Light and Light Touch

“Opening the blinds, then rubbing my son’s back seems to work most days — especially if he got enough exercise and went to bed at a good time the night before.” –Julie

A cat wakes up a child with ADHD.
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Felines and Late Fees

“I put the cat under my son's covers and let her wake him up. He is also fined $1 if he comes to breakfast late!” –An ADDitude Reader

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Gradual Wake-Up

"I found that if woke him up gradually over time, he’d eventually get up and have a decent attitude. At first it aggravated me to have to go in his room every 5-10 minutes for a 30-min period, but that is what worked — so i kept it up. It means starting the wake-up process earlier, but I’ve learned to stop being annoyed and angry about it and simply be grateful for calmer mornings." -maryow

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An Early-Morning Dose of Praise

"I like to wake him with an ‘I love you son’ — this seems to help!" -n.neill

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Dig Deep for Self-Motivation

"Mornings are tough for my high school daughter with ADHD, but the key so far has been her being motivated by something she wants to do. She gets in spurts where she can actually get herself to wake up extra early because she is highly motivated to work out and shower before she has to head off to school. She is an athlete, so that is on her side as a built in-motivator." -sock4ever

[Free Resource: Transform Your Teen’s Apathy Into Engagement]

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