"How can we avoid this?" It finally occurred to me to ask my nine-year-old son this question after wrangling him out of bed, into his clothes, and down the stairs in time to force-feed him protein and spirit-crushing litany of things to remember to do and not forget before rushing him out the door. I know better; I've spent the last few years working on techniques to avoid mornings like this, but it's hard to be consistent when you're worn out.
My son was diagnosed with ADHD and a mood disorder when he was five and, despite a healthy bedtime routine, morning continues to be his nemesis. He had 26 tardies last year. His teacher told us to ignore the reprimanding letter from the principal because she preferred a tardy to a bad morning for my son. She suggested not rushing him on difficult mornings because his late entrances were less disruptive than his bad moods or having to send him to the nurse's office for a nap. I'm sure not every teacher is so accommodating. Future employers won't be either. He's at a private school this year, with smaller classes and a later start time. It's helping, but it's still a struggle. School wears my son out, even on the good days, and morning means he has to do it all over again.
I've been through behavioral programs and counseling with my son, and I've found strategies that work. But I have a bad habit of backing off when things are working. Mornings started well for us this school year, and I told a close friend that my son had turned the corner and that an easier year was in sight. A few days later, the morning madness started again.
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