By ADDitude Magazine
Five Tips for Smoother Mornings
Shift as many tasks as you can to the night before. Sign permission slips, make sure book bags are packed, and leave everything by the front door, in a “launch pad.”
If your child takes ADHD medication, wake him up half an hour early to take his pill. Then, let him fall back asleep or just relax. By the time he needs to start getting ready, his medication will have kicked in.
Draw up a checklist that spells out your child’s morning routine (“get dressed,” “come to the kitchen for breakfast,” and so on), and have her check off steps as she completes them.
Use a timer to remind your child when it’s time to move on to the next task. This will keep you from micromanaging his routine, and give him more control over his own schedule.
The morning rush is already hectic, so don’t add extra stimuli to the mix. Leave the television and the computer off until your children are out the door.
Five After-School Strategies
Establish a start time for homework, and stick to it. Some kids work better after a little downtime; others find it harder to switch back to “school mode.”
Find the homework environment that works with your child. The kitchen table is often the ideal homework station-there’s plenty of space to spread out books and you can stay close by.
ADHD kids can have trouble staying focused for long periods, so let your child take frequent, short breaks. A five-minute break for every 20 minutes of work should be sufficient.
Get your child in the habit of packing her completed homework in her book bag as soon as she’s finished, before moving on to any other activity.
Have fun afterward. Your child is more likely to apply herself if she knows that a fun activity, such as playing a game or watching TV, will follow homework.
Five Ways to Ensure Happy Meal Times
An all-carb breakfast is a recipe for inattention. Make sure your child eats plenty of protein, along with complex carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, and/or vegetables.
Keep a supply of grab-and-go breakfast foods, like protein bars, hard-boiled eggs, and cartons of yogurt, on hand, in case you fall behind schedule.
Create a “Top-10” list based on family members’ favorite meals that you can cook over the course of a two week-period. Soliciting everyone’s input means everyone will be happier around the dinner table.
Share the responsibilities for dinner preparation. Younger children can set the table, older kids may appreciate the responsibility of helping to prepare the meal.
If your child’s medication impacts his appetite, keep meal times flexible. If he doesn’t eat much for lunch, for example, give him a hearty snack rather than make him wait.
Five Keys to the Bedtime Routine
Wind down slowly over the course of an hour or so. Find the bedtime routine that works-bath, brush teeth, 20 minutes of reading, lights out to soft music-and stick to it.
Set a realistic bedtime. Put your child to bed too early, and there’s a chance that he’ll remain awake-and restless-for a long time.
Enforce bedtime consistently-on weekends, too. Letting your child stay up late on weekends will disrupt his circadian clock; on Monday, he’ll wake up with something akin to jet lag.
If your child gets up, tuck her back into bed and gently but firmly remind her that it’s time to go to sleep. Reassure her that you’ll be nearby.
Keep in mind that some ADHD kids are kept awake at night by restlessness and mental activity caused by a lack of medication. If you suspect this in your child, ask her doctor about an evening dose.
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