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Minimise school morning mayhem for ADHD children and other tips

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Getting ready for the school run can hard enough for any parent, but for those with a child with ADHD, it can bring extra challenges.

Around 2-5% of school children have ADHD, with the condition affecting boys more than it does girls.

School day delays can arise from forgotten homework, uniform disagreements or a non-uniform day that slipped everyone's mind.

For children with ADHD, these scenarios can actually reinforce low self-esteem, making them think: “I’m disorganised,” “I’m always late” or “I always forget”.

Having a strict morning routine so the child knows what to expect can help. Here are some tips:

Step 1: Outline the steps

Lay out the steps and the times they need to happen by. For example, on a school morning, your child should get out of bed by 7am, be dressed by 7:25am, have breakfast at 7:30am, pack their school bag by 7:45 and be out the door by 8am.

Step 2: Define how many reminders there will be for each step

For example, say, "I will come in twice and that’s it, and you must be out of bed by 7am." Index cards can also help with each step written on it. Ask them to give the card back when he or she has completed that step or task.

Step 3: Create a points or reward system

Children with ADHD may need a little extra support because they get easily distracted and don’t jump out of bed right away. Give your child a point for each step they correctly meet. Link the points to something the child is interested in, such as television time or computer time.

If they don’t fulfil the set amount, simply say, “You didn’t get your points for getting out of bed, but you can still get your point for washing up.”

This technique also cuts down on some of the disruptive arguments, as the onus now falls on the child, not the parent.

Step 4: Remain cool, calm and collected

When things are not going smoothly, use a steady voice and say, “You know what has to be done and it’s up to you.” If all else fails, the best thing to do is disengage from the battle, walk away, and say, “We will be late today.”

Stick to routines

Getting back into a routine after school holidays is important. If they've been staying up later during the summer, it may help to bring bedtime earlier again in gradual steps before the start of term.

Children with ADHD may also get out of the habit of doing schoolwork over the summer, which can make it extra hard to get back into it when term starts.

Avoid this trap by making time each evening for an activity - not a game - that has a similar structure to school.

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