8 Tips for Happier Mornings When Your Child Has ADHD

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer Larson on April 21, 2022
  • mother having breakfast with children
    Tips for mornings with ADHD
    Parenting a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be very challenging, especially in the morning – particularly if you’re in a hurry and there are many tasks to tackle. Set yourself and your child up for success by planning ahead and accommodating the curve balls that ADHD can throw into a morning routine.
  • closeup of woman's hands making list in journal on table
    1. Plan your routine in advance
    Sit down with your child each evening and talk about their morning routine. Make a list of everything that must be done in the morning before your child leaves for school. Figure out what tasks they could handle the night before. Then together, you can draw up a detailed schedule with specific steps for every task or activity that your child needs to complete. This way, they can refer back to the schedule so they don’t forget to do something important. Plus, breaking big tasks into small steps may seem less overwhelming and more achievable.
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    2. Make sure your child gets enough sleep
    A key tip for increasing the chances of experiencing a happier morning when your child has ADHD: make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep. A well-rested child will be more resilient and prepared to take on the challenges of a busy morning routine. However, many kids with ADHD have trouble sleeping. In fact, the number may be as high as 70%. Start by establishing a good bedtime routine, and if your child continues to have trouble getting enough sleep, discuss your concerns with your child’s doctor. It may be time to change their routine, set an earlier bedtime, or even adjust the medication they’re taking, as sometimes stimulant meds for ADHD can cause sleep problems.
  • Father and daughter playing on the beach, Barbados
    3. Express confidence in your child
    Repeat these words: “You can do this.” Tell your child that you believe in them. Your support can give them the assurance they need to feel capable of taking on the day and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed. A constant stream of negative feedback can damage your child’s self-esteem, according to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). Look for opportunities to praise your child in small or large ways. Notice if they did something well and tell them exactly what you noticed – and that you’re proud of them. You could even use a reward chart if your child responds positively to that kind of feedback.
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    4. Place important items near the door
    Children with ADHD may be forgetful and disorganized, but it’s much easier for your child to remember a backpack or lunchbox if you place them right by (or even in front of) the door. You could add other items that your child is prone to forgetting, like shoes, jackets, phones, or band instruments.
  • Close-up of remote control pointed at blurred TV screen in background
    5. Minimize distractions
    This is a big one. People with ADHD can get distracted by music, noise, and other things that compete for their attention. Minimize potential morning distractions by turning off the TV or the radio. Don’t ask them to tackle projects unrelated to their routine so they won’t get sidetracked.
  • Young girl eating cereal on floor of kitchen next to labradoodle dog
    6. Build in a little extra time
    Some kids with ADHD have trouble waking up and getting moving in the morning. If this applies to your child, build in a little extra wake-up time. Consider other strategies that might help them get moving, like using an alarm clock or letting some natural light into their bedroom. Allow a little wiggle room in the rest of their schedule, just in case something goes awry.
  • Father and young children eating breakfast cereal together in kitchen at home
    7. Focus on a good breakfast
    Regardless of whether you prefer a big breakfast or just a cup of coffee in the morning, your child needs to eat a healthy meal to be ready for their day. Hungry kids are distracted and unable to focus, even if they don’t have ADHD. However, preparing a healthy breakfast takes time and planning. You could discuss it with your child during your advanced planning session and determine the best approach to breakfast on a busy morning. If you or your child can prepare some or all of their breakfast in advance, that can save time and energy, too.
  • Rear view of children and father washing dishes at kitchen sink
    8. Remain calm
    Emotional regulation can be difficult for kids with ADHD, and stress can lead to some difficult mornings. As a parent, you can set the tone of the day by remaining measured and calm, even if your child is rushing or upset. As tempting as it may be, getting upset and scolding your child for getting distracted won’t solve the problem, and you may both end up feeling even more anxious. If something goes wrong or you get angry, try to set it aside and discuss it with your child later, when you’re not rushing to get them out the door to school.
ADHD & Morning Routine | ADHD in Children

About The Author

Jennifer Larson has more than 15 years of professional writing experience with a specialization in healthcare. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and memberships in the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Education Writers Association.
  1. ADHD and sleep in children. (n.d.). https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/ADHD.pdf
  2. Parenting a child with ADHD. (n.d.). https://chadd.org/for-parents/overview/
  3. Treatment of ADHD. (2021). https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/treatment.html
  4. What is ADHD? (2021). https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.htm
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Last Review Date: 2022 Apr 13
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