Written by Doctor G

8 Tips for an Easier Morning Routine with Kids

How can I help the AM routine of my tween with ADHD go smoother?

Anonymous, in D.C.

Are you a morning person? I’m not! As my kids have hit elementary school, they too struggle with mornings. As much as I love being with them, I dread waking them. Know what I mean?

Here are some suggestions for making mornings go easier. These should be helpful for kids with ADHD, but also with Morning Attitude Deficit Disorder!

  1. Make a list.  Kids and teens do better when our expectations are clearly communicated. So work with your child to make a chart of what has to get done in the morning. For a tween, let them decide on the order it will get done. For non-readers, take pictures of each activity and put them up in order.
  2. Prioritize. Put a star by the things that are crucial for those ignored-the-alarm-clock mornings.
  3. Time it. Take a few mornings to decide together how many minutes (or hours) your child needs to get through this list before leaving for the day. Whether it’s school or camp or work, help them work backwards from the departure time to decide on wake-up time.
  4. Be flexible. Adjust the list and the wake-up time as it seems necessary.
  5. Put it to music. Many kids (grown-ups too!) are more positive and efficient when doing routine tasks to music. This should be music your child likes and that you can tolerate. Be as tolerant as you can possibly be!
  6. Choose a reward. Put your list on a dry erase board with a “carrot” at the bottom. Have your child write in the night before what goal they are working towards, like a game night after dinner, or a stop at the library, or something else that will happen tomorrow if the morning work gets done.
  7. Add in some consequences. Tired of nagging? Add three empty check boxes and a chore or other unwanted consequence to the bottom of your list. If your child can get through the morning routine without getting all three check boxes marked for not listening or poor behavior, they will avoid the consequence you’ve written below the boxes.
  8. Build in some time for failure. Don’t let your child’s morning ruin your whole day by destroying your good mood or making you late. Get up a little earlier, get your important stuff done so that you can focus on teaching your child how to accomplish their morning tasks.

Mornings are hard for many of us! By teaching these practical methods, you are setting your child up for a lifetime of being on time to school and work. You are building a responsible, resilient person who can meet their obligations no matter which Deficit Disorder they may have!


What else do you do to make mornings more tolerable at your house?

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2 thoughts on “8 Tips for an Easier Morning Routine with Kids”

  1. Melissa Werbow

    We let our daughter get dressed for school at night after her bath. This solves the “what to wear” dilemma at a time when we all have more patience. We also set her alarm clock to go off with music about 15 minutes before she needs to get out of bed and start getting ready. This allows her a slow wake up without us having to go in and try to wake her every 5 minutes.

    1. I love these solutions Melissa! Might not work for a kiddo with bedwetting issues, but a great idea for any child that has strong “what to wear” opinions.

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