How a Routine Can Help Your Child with ADHD
When a child is diagnosed with ADHD it can be a scary time for parents. Once you have the diagnosis, it’s important to put a plan into place to help your child succeed in life and prepare them to be on their own one day. A routine with known expectations is a great way to do that. With structure and a daily pattern to their activities, a child knows what to expect and when to expect it. This takes the away the fear of the unknown which can be frightening for a child especially when dealing with other hardships like ADHD. When a child can predict what will happen next, it helps them move forward in their day and go on to the next task with minimal frustration for both the parent and child.
A morning routine can be essential to starting your day off on the right foot when your child has ADHD. A set bedtime and time to wake up everyday, even on weekends, is essential to your child’s well being. Children with ADHD can get distracted easily and often can’t control their behaviors as well on their own. Outside structure and control can help them feel secure and safe. A morning list with tasks for the child to complete each day can be helpful for the parent and child. Make a list of things like get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, prepare backpack and lunch bag. While these may seem mundane, having the list in front of them helps the child know exactly what’s expected of them each morning. Being able to check things off the list each day gives them a sense of accomplishment and can help keep them on task.
A set pattern to the day can help a child with ADHD feel like they know what’s going to happen next. Knowing this helps them focus and not get distracted. Preparing for the mornings on the night before is a great way to make your mornings easier. Again a list of what they should accomplish at night can help a great deal. Make sure homework happens at the same time every night. List things like pack backpack, help make lunch for tomorrow, put on pajamas and brush teeth. A great way to end the night is with a fun, but predictable, task like reading a story together or playing a quiet game.
The most important thing to remember when setting up a routine for your child is to stick with it. They may be resistant at first and it may seem like it’s not helping the situation. Like anything new a different schedule can be hard, but especially to a child with ADHD, this new pattern of activities will be difficult at first. Once they see that their day is no longer unpredictable, they’ll likely feel much better about your new day.