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Parents of ADHD Children

Getting him ready in the morning

Hello! I’m new here. My 7 yo son was just recently diagnosed ADHD and I’m still getting used to everything. My biggest problem right now is getting him to get out of bed and get ready for school. He has 3 sisters who get ready at the same time, so I can’t give him all my attention. I don’t want to be screaming, pleading or crying. Any tips on how to get him motivated? Thanks in advance!


I have a 7 year old Grandson that I must get ready for school.  He is an only child and keeping him on task is almost impossible.  He is on medications.

I cannot imagine how you manage with three other children getting ready at the same time.  But to address your situation..

You need time! What I mean is, if you rush the situation it gets worse.. I know at 7 my Grandson should dress himself, however to get through the morning, I dress him.  I tell him we are a team, however I am doing the dressing.  What makes your situation and mine so difficult is: We do not control the morning.  The CLOCK does!  This makes us unable to adjust, to the children’s needs..
I realize this response is not much, however I hope you know someone understands your situation ..

Posted by Ericakyler on Mar 04, 2014 at 6:35pm

Hi mamaof14!

Setting up a consistent routine is most important. Going a step further, I made it a game for my son every morning at that age, with an immediate reward at the end of the routine if completed on time(it was truly like “magic” when I started it—made an unbelievably huge difference).

Here are some articles on on using routines to effectively manage mornings.

Morning with a kid with ADHD are super-tough. Implement various strategies until you find something that is effective for your family.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Mar 04, 2014 at 7:05pm

You don’t say if your son is on meds.  What works for us is that I give my son his pill about 30 minutes before his time to get up.  Sometimes he gets up after I give him the pill, other times he needs that 30 minutes.  But, by the time I need him to get up, his pill is working and it is not so difficult.

Posted by cmullen17 on Mar 04, 2014 at 9:16pm

Thanks, everyone! He is on meds, so I’ll try giving it to him early. And if that still doesn’t work, I’ll make it a game. smile

Posted by Mamaof14 on Mar 04, 2014 at 9:33pm

Don’t forget that meds often supress appetite, so giving them before they get up may mean they don’t eat the big breakfast they need to tide them over until dinner or whenever the meds wear off.  My son doesn’t seem terribly affected by the meds in this way thus far, but he often forgets to eat at school, so breakfast is still key for us!

My son is 11, so it might be different for you, but I agree with what everyone else has said about being consistent and giving yourself extra time.

My son’s biggest issue in the morning is actually getting out of bed.  Once he’s up and moving, the battle’s half won!  Everything I’ve read and been told says to use positive reinforcement rather than negative, but honestly, my son gets bored and they just don’t work.  Every morning I go in and open his blinds and wake him up at 7am.  I then remind him he has until 7:20 to get out of bed and go downstairs for breakfast.  (Food first before we tackle getting dressed, etc.)  Then I will go about my day but yell out reminders on time.  “It’s 7:10! You have 10 minutes!”  Calmly, and with no nonsense.  He knows the drill.  He will usually not get up until 7:19, but it’s the only thing that works consistently for us.  (It doesn’t always work either.)

After that I help him.  I make sure he has breakfast even though he’s perfectly capable of making it himself.  Mornings are tough for him.  I’ll fight that battle some other time.  I check to make sure he has everything packed in his bag (I call out the checklist, he actually puts things in.)  My older son was doing all of this on his own by this age, but with ADHD, my son needs help.  If I don’t support him the whole way, he’s rushing and things dissolve in tears and drama.

Posted by Rai0414 on Mar 04, 2014 at 10:37pm

Small bites. No screaming, that is like putting the brakes on an ADHD brain! And yes, you will have to hover.

One instruction at a time. So you may have to break your own routine to go where he is to give an instruction. But as you’ve no doubt already found out general instructions such as “get ready” lead to child sitting on floor playing!  Sit down and eat. That is one, Put on your shoes and socks. That is one. Brush your teeth… Etc. And you probably can’t yell it down the hallway unless you want to keep fighting and screaming.

My daughter is 9, and this is the only way we have consistently gotten to school on time the past 4 years. She has a brother who does not have ADHD, gets ready on his own and wants to get to school on time. My husband also has ADHD and is for all intents and purposes useless in the morning (I’d have to give him instructions to give her instructions! Which is downright maddening) so I have had to build my routine around her to make sure things are moving.

Motivating can happen yes, but one task at a time. Remember the one third rule, your child is functionally one third younger than their chronological age, so the math and his brain say he is functioning at a 4 year old level. There is nothing to do about it except to stay calm and deal with the reality of ADHD. Being the mother of an ADHD child is no position to engage in wishful thinking.

Posted by YellaRyan on Mar 04, 2014 at 10:57pm

There are some great tips that others have given.  The best thing to do is try to figure out what motivates your son to action (competition? beating the clock? urgency? small rewards?) and try several things until you find what works for him. Here are some tricks that work for us:

1) My 9 year old son dresses in what he’s going to wear the next day after bath the night before.  That way we’ve taken changing out of PJs right off the list of potential morning difficulties.  My son came up with this idea himself and it totally works for him (and us!).
2) He’s in charge of turning off his alarm clock and then he gets back in bed.  We usually give him about 10 minutes of cozy bed time, then one of us goes upstairs and he gets wrapped in a giant blanket and literally dragged downstairs.  He LOVES this as it gives him great sensory feedback and he gets a “ride” downstairs. 

Once he’s downstairs, he spends a few minutes on his 3DS while his breakfast is being prepared.  The rest of the morning usually goes well, although we do need to nag him about 20 times to get his teeth brushed, his face washed, and get his shoes on.  This is light years of improvement from where we used to be, so it’s OK for us.

Posted by MendelZ on Mar 04, 2014 at 11:02pm

Oh! I forgot to say what happens if my son’s not out of bed by 7:20. He loses video games for the day. Not positive reinforcement but because games are huge for him, it’s a big motivator. You’ll need to figure out what motivates your child and go with that.

Posted by Rai0414 on Mar 04, 2014 at 11:30pm

What about a visual reminder of the steps it takes to get ready? I attended a training once that recommended a lot of visuals. At our house, we have an order. We always get dressed, eat breakfast, then brush our teeth (for example). When mornings are tough, I also set a timer and show him how much time he has for a specific tasks. Hope it helps.

Posted by Niccole on Mar 05, 2014 at 9:44am

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