Families are gearing up for back to school, gathering school supplies, getting yearly physicals, and signing up for extracurricular activities. Taking time to plan your family’s morning routine is just as important for getting off to a good start to the year. If any of your family members have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD or ADD) you may have more morning challenges than most. It goes without saying that morning routines require focus and time management skills. Children with ADD typically have a hard time waking up, staying on task, and navigating the complicated rituals families go through in the morning. It’s a recipe for stress and conflict. It doesn’t have to be that way. The following tips can help you better manage your family’s morning schedules if your child has ADHD or ADD.
Update Your Routine & Ask for Help
Take control of your morning routine by getting organized and asking for help before school starts. Call a family meeting and set some ground rules, gather input, and make some task assignments. Everyone’s help is needed in the morning, so take some time to have this conversation so everyone can contribute to the solution. Consider padding your time schedule to make mornings less rushed to begin with. It may take your child longer to do a set of complex tasks in the morning. Account for that by setting earlier bedtimes and/or waking up a little earlier.
Consider reducing morning distractions like turning on the television, video games, or tablets. If those expectations are set at the beginning, it will reduce complaints in the morning. Offer instead the choice of music in the mornings. If you have a play list, you can even time it so that children know that by the time a specific song begins, it’s time to be dressed and in the kitchen for breakfast.
Completing complex tasks when barely awake is tough. You might consider creating simple checklists with words or pictures for nonreaders. This visual organizer can help children with ADD or ADHD manage the tasks they need to complete in the morning.
Take advantage of the night before
Getting organized starts with doing everything you can in advance. Reduce fights about what to wear and what to eat in the morning by deciding the night before. One family told us that her kids even went to bed with their school clothes already on. School lunches, snacks and water bottles can be packed the evening before and set in the fridge. Backpacks can be filled with homework, library books, and papers to return to school and set by the front door or in the car where they cannot be forgotten.
Set an alarm or decide on another type of gentler wake up call. The family dog could be let in for a slobbery wakeup, or mom and dad could gently rub their child’s back or deliver some morning tickles. Try a few different things and see what works best.
Make breakfast portable
If mornings are challenging, make breakfast simpler. Some advocate for making breakfast the same every day. Another way to make it easy is to offer a selection of grab-and-go, nutritious foods that can be eaten at the table or taken in the car. Encourage sources of protein – like boiled eggs, nutbutter spread on a bagel, muffins, cups or tubes of yogurt, protein bars, instant oatmeal in a cup, smoothie, or cheese sticks. If you’re dealing with a picky eater, consider adding nontraditional breakfast choices to the mix – leftovers from dinner, sandwiches, or chicken nuggets. The goal is to get some nutrition in your child’s tummy before they head off to school, so get creative if it helps!
Reward progress with “Energy Breaks”
A little exercise and movement can help a kid who is bursting with energy before they have to sit down at school and concentrate. If you can make room in your schedule, see how your child responds to a 10 minute energy break before your car leaves the driveway. You can even use this as a quick reward if they have their morning tasks done on time. They can go for a swing, have a dance party in the living room, play with the dog outside, or spend time with short exercise video, like those on GoNoodle. By all means, catch your child doing things right and making progress toward an easier morning.
We Can Help
If school tardies and morning routines seem unsolvable, the Directions Carlton NeuroFeedback Center in Manassas, Virginia, wants to help you and your child find better ways to manage the symptoms of ADHD/ADD. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that neurofeedback used with ADHD children can result in measurable, lasting improvements. Find out more about neurofeedback and ADHD/ADD and download our free eBook. Call us today for a free, no obligation consultation to learn more about neurofeedback training for children and adults with ADD/ADHD.