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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Minimize School Morning Mayhem for ADHD Children

Experts share tips for getting your ADHD child ready for school each morning -- with a minimum of stress.

Step 3: Create a Point or Reward System continued...

"Reward-based incentives tend to be the most effective, and a point system which sets up the value or expectation for each step is very concrete," Corrin says. The consequences and rewards should be as immediate as possible and should change as the ADHD child ages.

"This system puts the appropriate level of responsibility on the ADHD child," she says. "The child does tend to wake up to the process and realize that they feel the consequences themselves."

Another advantage is that it also cuts back on some of the disruptive yelling and screaming as the onus now falls on the child, not the parent. "Parents feel less frustrated with the new structure because they don't have to panic that they alone must make this happen," Corrin says.

Step 4: Remain Calm, Cool, and Collected

When things are not going smoothly, Corrin says, "Use a steady calm voice and say, 'You know your direction and this has to be done and it's on you. Bye.'" If all else fails, "the best thing to do is walk away and disengage from the battle and say, 'We will be late today.'"

Preparing for the School Year

Other factors that play a role in making the school mornings go smoothly start way before school does, adds Frank A. Lopez, MD, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician in Winter Park, Fla.

One issue that needs to be addressed is the practice of "drug holidays." Some parents may have opted to stop their child's ADHD medication over the summer vacation.

In these cases, Lopez says parents must discuss when and how to restart the medication with the prescribing pediatrician.

Sticking to Routines

Routine is a key part of managing ADHD children. During the lazy days of summer, routines and schedules may go out the window. To avoid mayhem when school starts, "try to keep as much of a routine as possible over the summertime," Lopez says. "All children may stay up later during the summer, but if you have a night owl, you want to start pushing the bedtime back by 15 or 30 minutes each week in the three for four weeks before the first day of school."

Encouraging Summer Study Habits

ADHD children may also get out of the habit of doing schoolwork over the summer, which can make it extra hard to get back into it when the school year starts.

Avoid this trap by making time each evening for an activity -- not a game -- that has some similar structure to school.

"The bottom line is that nothing is ever 100% foolproof, but doing these things now will make transition to back-to-school much easier for ADHD children," Lopez says.

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Reviewed on July 25, 2008

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