How to Help your ADHD-I Child Greet the Dawn…or at least the School Bus

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If your idea of a good morning is one where you don’t have to get your children up, you must be a parent. The same erratic sleep patterns that can wreak havoc with an established bedtime also make wake-up calls a repeated, frustrating exercise.

Some folks take mornings better than others, but unless everyone in your family has agreed to take night jobs and night classes, getting up in the morning remains a necessity of life.

Take a look at these tips to keep mornings more civil for all involved:

1. Pay attention to alarming details. First of all, you shouldn’t be the token alarm clock. Place a loud alarm clock out of your child’s reach so he must get out of bed to turn it off. One ring tone over another can also help…and changing ring tones periodically is a good idea.

2. Do the math first thing. Solve a basic math problem to turn off the alarm – brilliant! I’ve had pre-teens and teens who could carry on a conversation with me about breakfast and promptly go back to sleep remembering nothing later. This alarm app for your i-phone might engage your teen more.

3. Light up your child’s life…early. This depends on where you live, but if the sun comes up close to your usual wake up time, keep the shades open in your child’s bedroom. Another idea is to invest in an alarm clock that lights up before sounding off. When Joe was having major sleep problems, this is what his doctor recommended that they use for him. Try this wake up light.

4. Start the night before. Do whatever you can to streamline your morning routine. Have your fashionista diva or devil-may-care dresser choose clothes the night before. Set the breakfast table ahead of time, complete with cereal, bowls and spoons. Keep signed forms and homework pieces corralled in your child’s backpack. You don’t want to be chasing down myriad details before 8 a.m. if you can help it.

5. Rewarding what you like. Praising a good start can encourage more of the same. For elementary aged children, a star chart with a reward may entice some sleepyheads to change their ways.

6. Caffeine drip. For two of my teens, coffee in the morning helped. Or at least they told me that because they really liked starting the day with a highly sweetened chocolate caramel mocha shot of caffeine. A stimulant similar to medicine used to control symptoms of ADHD-I, caffeine introduction for your children or teens should be discussed with your doctor.

7. Drawing certain boundaries. Make boundaries tight enough for structure and loose enough for flexibility. One mom’s boundary was that her children had to be downstairs and dressed, ready for breakfast 30 minutes before the bus – or they lost computer time later as a consequence. If I had to drive a lagging child to school, it would cost them allowance. Consequences need to be set and then re-set when they stop motivating. You have to ask yourself how many times you are willing to drive your child to school because she misses the bus. As chief chauffeur and parent, you set the scales of justice, discipline and mercy.

8. Write your own last stand story. Every parent has limits. For Ron, he found out the day he missed the bus the third time in two weeks. Kayla wasn’t driving him – as she had already warned him before that memorable morning. So he went to school in a taxi that day, funded from his own spending money.

With a little strategy, you can help your child or teen greet a new day with less drama. Is it true that there’s nothing new under the sun? Let us know about your latest rise and shine challenges and how you overcame them. Your latest episode and resolution might be just the encouragement that another parent needs to hear.

Got Younger Kids? Read Divide and Conquer – ADHD and the Morning Routine.