A Morning Routine for ADHD Children

By Lisa Weber
Creating a reliable routine for your child with ADHD can make getting ready in the morning easier.
Creating a reliable routine for your child with ADHD can make getting ready in the morning easier.

Most parents know how difficult it is to get a child dressed and ready for school in the morning. Having a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can make the process even more frustrating and difficult. Using a set routine can make mornings go more smoothly, alleviating much of the stress for both the parent and the child.


Having a routine will not only improve your child's ability to function, but will also improve his behavior. (reference 2) Though they may not say so, most children crave routines and the security they provide. According to "ADDitude" magazine, parents and children both experience less stress when there's less drama about what the kids are going to wear and what they will have for lunch. The result is a more relaxed home, not only for the child with ADHD, but for siblings and parents as well.

The Night Before

Have your child start getting ready for school at night, so there are fewer things to do in the morning. Make or have him make his lunch while cleaning up from dinner. After your child finishes his homework, have him repack his backpack and place it by the front door. Pick out clothes and leave them where your child can grab them easily in the morning. Have your child take his bath or shower at night, when you are not as pressed for time. Also, check the family calendar and talk about what is going to happen the next day so there are no surprises.

Waking Up

Determine how your child wakes up best. Many kids with ADHD are very sensitive to touch and will wake with a light hand to the shoulder. Others may prefer a damp cloth or washcloth. Open the shades to let in light. If you prefer your child to wake independently, use an alarm clock, but introduce him to the sound of the buzzer or ringing ahead of time. Older children may enjoy setting their cellphones to a favorite song or sound. Having your child wake himself may save Mom time as well. (reference 3)

Visual Aids

Use a chart or other visual prompt to remind your child of his routine. Checking each item off a list will force your child to look at the chart, and give him a sense of satisfaction for completing each task. For example, he can give himself a check mark after he wakes up, eats breakfast, gets dressed and puts on his shoes. For young children who cannot yet read, use a chart with picture prompts. Older children can simply read from their list. (reference 3)

Other Considerations

Decide which tasks are truly important. If requiring your child to make his bed prevents him from having time to brush his teeth or hair, consider skipping it or making it part of the after-school routine. Do not turn on the TV in the morning; it may be too much of a distraction. And finally, reward your child for successfully following the routine with a sticker on a behavior chart or an extra treat in his lunch.

About the Author

Lisa Weber is a freelance writer/editor and former special education teacher. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and professional writing, and a master's degree in special education. Over the last 15 years, she has written for a variety of newspapers, magazines, and on-line publications.