How can I help my child have a good morning?
Mornings can be difficult for children with ADHD, whether you are trying to get ready for school, church or an outing. Hathaway and Barkley (2003) discuss the difficulties for families with an ADHD child. Mornings tend to be difficult for both the parents, the ADHD child, and siblings with or without ADHD.
Hathaway and Barkley discuss a typical morning where the parent and the child are frustrated trying to get out the door on time for church or school. In the church setting, the parents are attempting to rush the child and often resort to punitive consequences (see Using Discipline Effectively). The family is late or barely on time for the service, leaving everyone frustrated. The ADHD child struggles to sit still or pay attention, drawing further consequences from parents, leaving the child nervous anxious, usually causing more hyperactivity, and causing the parents to be less and less patient.
That being said, what can you do as a parent to help mornings run more smoothly?
Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. This will help provide a smooth start the morning and increase chances that children will be able to leave on-time.
Help your child establish a simple, consistent morning routine. If possible, complete this morning routine with your child several times. Since children with ADHD often have a difficult time stay on task or being aware of time, supervision can be a helpful element in establishing good habits.
Make sure that your child eats a breakfast high in protein, stick to complex carbohydrates, avoid simple, refined sugars. High protein helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy and do not raise blood sugar as much. Elevated levels of blood sugar can cause a variety of problems including moodiness, irritability, sleepiness, lack of focus.
Remember, that a child's difficulty getting ready in a timely manner is related to their attention deficits. Similar to having difficulty completing assignments. It is important to address willful disobedience, however, you will often notice that ADHD children are eager to please their parents, but seem unable to accomplish certain tasks in a timely way.
Adapted from The Bible Cure for ADD and Hyperactivity (Colbert, 2003)
See Next: Providing Consistency & Structure