ADD & Morning Battles

Did you ever see that commercial – I don’t remember what it was for – but in it, this mom has a heavy metal band in her son’s room, and she gets them to start playing to wake the kid up? That commercial always cracked me up because I could totally relate – getting my son out of bed in the morning and off to school on time was next to impossible!
After too many times of trying to get 3 ADD kids out the door in a timely manner, I eventually came up with some solutions. Here they are:
• Get ready the night before. That means backpacks are ready to go and by the door, homework safely inside. Coats, etc. are also by the door. Lunches are packed, clothes are laid out – no changes allowed – you wear what you picked out the night before. If you’re driving the kids to school, that means you’re ready, too – you know where your car keys are, there is gas in the car, whatever. And if you live in an area that gets winter weather, prepare for that the night before, too, if you need to. (Listen to the weather so if snow is expected, you can get up earlier to shovel, scrape, etc.)
• My son was on meds for a while, so I found it helpful to wake him up about 15-20 minutes before he was supposed to get up just to take them. I always had a nice cold refreshing glass of juice with me. He knew he was only waking up long enough to take the pill (just sitting up in bed), and he enjoyed the juice, so it was never a problem. Getting the meds in him seemed to help him wake up easier when it was time.
• Realize that kids with ADD have trouble making transitions, so you have to give them advance warnings. Expect that you will have to go back to their room more than once to get them up. I always started earlier than my son really needed to get up, and we had an agreed-on time that was absolutely written in stone as to when he had to get up. If I told him what time it was, and it was “that time”, he always got right out of bed because he knew he had to beforehand. In other words, never, never lie about the time, or change the clocks to read differently. They will catch on to that quickly, and you will end up with a greater problem than the one you started with.
• If you’re calling upstairs to make sure they are up, make sure you clarify what “up” means. Does it mean they are awake, or out of bed? If they’re out of bed, are they doing anything? I always asked, specifically – feet on the floor? Pants and shirt on?
• Put analog clocks in their room, the bathroom, and anywhere else they need to be in the morning. An analog clock is the old kind with a face and hands. ADD kids are visually oriented, and this gives them a much clearer idea of time passing than a digital clock does. Make sure they know how to read it! I had to teach my daughter – I don’t remember how old she was, but she was old enough that she should have known how to read one.
• It might help for you to work with your child so they can see how much time they are really taking in the morning. Again, kids with ADD don’t experience time the way people without ADD do – for them, time is very elastic, so they tend to be very bad judges of time spent. Maybe you could make a game out of it – they can guess how long they take, and then use a stopwatch to find out how long it really is. I bet they’ll be surprised.
• Keep some easily portable breakfast items on hand. My daughter (also ADD) spent many mornings eating a Pop Tart on the way to the bus stop. 🙂
• Maintain a sense of humor. Mornings are no time for battles – it sets the tone for the whole day. See if you can find a way to put some fun into the morning routine. My son was a hockey player, and he loves winter. If we had a snowfall during the night (especially in the beginning of the season, when it was more unexpected), I would make a snowball and bring it in and put it in his hand while he was asleep (or on his face!). Sometimes, I would just whisper “snow” in his ear and that would do it.
• Relax a little bit. My youngest daughter had a real issue with socks. She didn’t like sorting them before she put them away, so finding a matching pair in the morning turned into a real chore. One day she decided not to do it anymore. Wearing mismatching socks became her trademark. She is 20 now, and all of her friends know that she never wears socks that match. It’s her own little idiosyncrasy.
• Talk to your child about morning battles. What is hard for them to do, and do they have suggestions for fixing it? What are you doing that drives them crazy in the morning? It’s OK to tell them what about their behavior makes you crazy, too, as long as both of you are doing it in a calm, loving manner. But you knew that, right?
Well, those are my tips for getting out of the door in the morning – and by the way – they work for big kids, too.

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About Brenda Nicholson

I am an ADHD Expert, Coach, and Consultant. I want you to learn how to celebrate your life with ADHD too.

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