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ADHD Parents Together
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Mornings are a nightmare and I don't know what to do.

It is a daily struggle getting my 10-year-old ADHD son ready for school. Some mornings he refuses to get dressed. Other mornings, he won't even get out of bed. But then there are mornings he gets up and dressed the first time I call him.

Even on "good" mornings, he is yelling and cursing, refusing to get in the car, refusing to buckle his seatbelt, hitting me, hitting his sisters. This morning, when I pulled over to get him buckled in, he jumped out of the car and ran, and I had to drive around the block to find him.

I am at my wits end. I feel like such a bad mother. I was hoping he would grow out of this phase but it seems to be getting worse. It is taking a toll on the whole family, especially his sisters.

He takes 36 mg ER Methalphenidate (Concerta) and I can't give it to him before breakfast or he won't eat anything.

Any advice is appreciated.

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I was in your shoes for the past 2 years with my daughter. I don’t know if my advice will work or not, but I will share with you. I know how devastating it is to see your child so worked up and all of this happening before school. It sounds like he also has some anxiety going on and I’m by no means a doctor, but this is what my daughter exactly did for 2 years and we just got her diagnosis back 2 months ago. Anxiety and ADHD being 2 of her diagnosis. Working weekly with her psychiatrist and psychologist they were able to give me a way to connect with her. Before I knew she had these things going on I just though she was defiant and terrible behavior and tried with punishment and I was always angry. Now we make mornings into steps and steps is how she learns with her ADHD. If she can do these 3 things in the AM and get in the car she receives a ticket. After 5 tickets (now 6 because she’s been doing so well) I take her to 5 below and she gets to pick an item of her choice. That was her driving force for her. Her 3 steps are 1) get dressed 2) brush her hair, 3) brush her teeth. All I ask her to do in the morning and then everything else flows. She hasn’t been placed on ADHD meds yet, because we are focused on the anxiety and treating that first. Her anxiety over school and the learning gap she experiences is what makes it hard for her to get up. Also she can’t see the big picture it has to be broken down for her. I can’t talk logistics to her. It has to be simple 1.2.3 for her to understand or else I’ve lost her.

I don’t know if any of this would help with your son. I do hope you get some relief and answers soon because I know how hard it is for you and him every day. My thoughts are with you.

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You are not alone! My 7 year old son does the same thing minus the jumping out of the car. He has anxiety and mood disorder along with his ADHD. I have to literally drag him out of bed and stand him up. He really wants a dog so he has to start earning to get one. Meaning he has to get up without me dragging him out of bed, getting dressed without being told . Ect. So far he is doing ok. He is still learning but he has gotten better. He is going to see a therapist here this week for the first time. So hopefully it will help too.

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No advice, but I do want you to know you are not alone. My 7 yr old is a nightmare in the car and is extremely abusive to his 10 yr old sister. When he is having a particular bad car ride I let him play games on my phone. While I know this is just rewarding bad behavior, I have to keep my daughter safe. I feel your pain.

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I have very much the same situation! My son is 13. I get him up 2 hours before school. He won’t get out of be either. I usually call my husband at work and we tag team. Between profanity and refusals I will make a event he wants to do like take his cell phone to school a reward if he will get up. Because I have so much time before school I can continue working with him and having him talk to my husband until he finally gets out of bed. He won’t take his pills until after he eats and he didn’t like to eat breakfast . It takes about an hour to get him to eat. I will make him fresh pancakes with butter and whip cream. Some days this works. Other days he refuses food and I have his pills in a baggie with us in the car. I won’t let him leave my car without taking his pills. I try something new every morning . Right now he has been unlawfully suspended for 20 days for hitting His friend in the back of the head. We have an attorney helping us get him back in school. We are filing a due process hearing. The school said hitting this boy was not a manifestation of his disability’s . Oh how wrong they are. We will see them in a hearing. Their attorney will be there too! The problem is the school dosent even know what his disabilities look like. We have told them so many times and so have experts but they are retaliating against our family for complaints we have filed against them and won.

Now I have to fight the school and my son. They are educating him at the local library! The battle is fierce and getting him out of bed every day is fierce.

Keep advocating for your son. I hoe you have an IEP. There is pritection form schools that are bullying our disabled kids with special education law! I don’t believe my son wants to be bad I just have to find out what motivates him to do what he is told! Best of luck keep fighting for your boy. You are his lifeline to success!

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I am so sorry. I totally get how the violence/lashing out is a product of the ADHD, it is horrible that your school can't understand it. Stay strong.

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Thank you for our kind words

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This is my life with 9 y.o. son. I thought by home schooling him now for the past 2 weeks would calm him. NOPE it's worse. We have had 2 TO 3 VERRY heated melt downs with cursing, throwing, i am worse mom, to trying to run out house, screaming to top of lungs and this is all at 7am to 8am in morning. It's literally taken me 30 min to an hour to calm him down and that's time i am loosing not working. I dont know where i am going wrong but me n my girls are on egg shells . I can no longer cry but my heart hurts for him. And when its over and he is calm he is very apologetic and crys (he says his head feels like its gonna explode).

I feel like I am making all the wrong moves. His behavior wasnt this bad at school. But just the last month he had gotten suspended 4 times in 1 month. This was happening 1 every other week. And i can't switch meds as need dad approval and he is not gonna do as a way to punish me.

His is therapy we go every 2 weeks, we have been doing this now for over a year. She is great therapist. But i see no progress. I have had him retested and have been told its only adhd border line odd but to keep in therapy.

When am I gonna see results...i feel like NEVER. And in this state what will his future be.

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I so feel your pain. The way you describe things are exactly how it happens in my house. I, too worry about my son's future.

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Does he calm down after the medicine kicks in? Concerta made my one grandson violent. Both of my grandsons are on a cocktail of Medicine. One alone does not do it.

My younger grandson wears his school clothes to bed. At least we have a start in the morning

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Yes he does calm after taking med. But i am not understanding how he will wake up fine calm and loving. And than within 30 minutes of waking up its like a switch flips >to act up and terrorize the house. So i was thinking of waking him up at 6.30 to give meds but in all honesty thats my quiet time and focus on my work i start at 6 am. And since being home I noticed he is having a hard time going to sleep at 8pm. Unless i completely shut house down and let him sleep with me. Which leads to peeing in bed. Yes he is still peeing in bed thats another job of me having to wake in middle of night to use bathroom inwich could lead to another mid night yelling session for him....

I am loosing this battle, but the ones I win I say thank you Jesus..its currently 4.50 am and i praying for a smooth day for the house.

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That is it EXACTLY. Within 30 minutes of waking up he becomes a holy terror. I have also thought about waking him up early and letting him stay in his room until the mess kick in -- but then he won't eat anything

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Oh, he had to wear a pull-up at night or he will wet the bed.

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Yes, he does calm down, almost exactly one hour after he takes his pill. It's like it makes him worse, before it makes him better. Did your grandson's behavior change when he was put on a different medicine?

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YOU are NOT a bad mom! Give yourself some grace. You are doing what you can to help him and reaching out to find more ways to help him. Don't give up! A couple of thoughts: 1) I love the 1, 2, 3 idea mentioned above - sometimes too many steps is too much in the morning. 2) Does the concerta keep him up at night? My son took it and he was up until 11 at night. He wasn't getting enough sleep at all. 3) Find a med you can give him without food - I suggest daytrana - it is a patch you put on the thigh (you can do this while he sleeps even) and takes about 30-45 minutes to kick in but it is a steady 9 hours of delivery. 4) try small rewards - extra time with just him and you, or a small treat - work up to bigger rewards as he does the smaller ones more readily.

None of this is easy. My son is almost 15 and there are times, I still don't know what I am doing. The problems don't always go away, sometimes they just change - sometimes for the better or sometimes not, but it can go in waves. Let him know you love him no matter what but you won't accept him hitting anyone (including you).

Good luck!

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I am a behaviorist as well as a mom with a child with adhd. I would work on changing his medication. He may need a combination of meds to treat his symptoms better. You should also get a behavior analyst (BCBA) to come to your home and help you set up several systems to help manage his behavior and motivate him to want to behave better. Your school may be able to help you find the right practitioner.

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After many years of similar behavior when my 13-year old was younger, I found an occupational therapist that helped. My child, in addition to having ADD, has sensory processing challenges, and her clothes/shoes truly bother her. Things got better between 4th-6th grade after seeing the OT for a while. Then in middle school, things got really hard again. We struggled to get her out of bed and to school. On weekends, I she could not get ready for ballet without having major meltdowns. We also had our child evaluated for anxiety/depression. Our child is not on medication, but she is seeing a psychologist on a regular basis to try and deal with the anxiety--mostly social in nature. I'm also having her evaluated by a sleep center. I want to see if there is a medical reason why she cannot function in the morning after 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep. Although, some kids do need more sleep than that to function normally. She falls asleep fast, stays asleep, but is extremely difficult to wake up each morning. Middle school in our town starts very early--kids in their seats by 7:30am after a 20 minute bus ride. She use to leave the house at 6:55am; so, she's probably been operating with sleep deficit. The sleep study is not till June. Finally, I decided to HOME SCHOOL her. My 7 year old is still in public school, but we began homeschooling my daughter in Q3 of this year. I will have to say that she is functioning much better and is far less stressed out than she was before. It was a hard decision. She has friends at school, her grades were good, and she loved band each day, but the morning routine and her general mood each day was quite alarming. Her extreme behavior was telling me that something wasn't quite right. So, I gave myself permission to do something that's pretty scary. What I can tell you is that she is now able to get more sleep, and she is far more relaxed and cooperative than she has been in YEARS. I now feel like I'm dealing with "normal teenager angst/rebellion rather than all out chaos like before. She is even tolerating her brother a bit more. She's also more willing to help around the house. She is always ready for ballet, now---no more poking and prodding on my end, and blow ups on her end. We've only been homeschooling for about 5 weeks, but things are better, and I'm glad that I was able to take some of the pressure off of my child and our family...I anticipate that things will continue to improve. Good luck with all of you struggling with kids who fight getting to school each day--that problem was truly destroying the quality of life for our family and for my child's sanity.

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Hi. Every child is different so I don’t know if what I do works for you, but as you know we need to try everything and see what it works. I decided it to give my son the responsibility on his own . He is 14 . I told him that I don’t going to wake him up anymore and he is the one to have the responsibility and asume the consequences on getting late at school or not going to school. Now he wakes up alone every day and I just ignore if he is late or not. I can tell you that 80% of the time he is on time and 20% late having tardies at school and in some cases suspensions because of the number of tardies, but definitely is getting better and I stop the fightings in the mornings. When he realize that I don’t wake him up anymore he decided to do it , he told me that he doesn’t like me enter in his room every 5 minutes. He knows that his father left with my other son at certain hour and if is not ready he needs to leave with me ,which causes a tardie at school. We are very constant on this so he knows what to expect. But is getting better. I hope something works for you .

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You are most certainly not alone. And you're not a bad mother! It is exhausting emotionally and physically to deal with this kind of behavior, especially because it is not consistent. You never know what you're going to get each day. I have a 9 year old son with ADD/ADHD/ODD. We have struggled over the years with the same kind of behavior you're describing. My son once got in the drivers seat once when I stopped the car to come around and make him buckle his seat belt. It was frightening. We are currently on month 4 of taking Focalin XR 5mg daily in the morning followed by regular Focalin in the afternoon. He also takes an appetite stimulator to help him be hungry for meals. Since we began the meds, we have seen a HUGE change in his impulsiveness. Also the way the meds clear his mind, he feels less anxious and defensive. We haven't had a melt down since day one. He also visits a child psychologist every two weeks, sometimes alone, sometimes with me, sometimes with me and dad. We also use a very simple and clear 3-step list for a "morning routine", "homework routine" and "bedtime routine". He earns marbles IMMEDIATELY after completing his routines and earns a prize that he chooses every time he fills the marble jar. For some of the bigger behaviors that we want to work on, we have a puzzle system. For instance, we are currently trying to work on remembering to bring home all of his homework supplies and completing his homework. He picked a bigger prize that he wants (this time it is an easel with a roll of paper). I print out a picture of the easel in black and white, and in color. The black and white picture goes on the refrigerator. The color picture gets cut into 10 pieces. Every day that he is able to bring it all home and complete the homework, he gets to glue one color piece on the black and white picture. When the whole puzzle is complete, we hopefully have established a new behavior, and he has earned the prize. It is super important not to threaten him, or be negative if he isn't able to do it on any given day. I simply say, you'll try again tomorrow. I know you can do it! (This is difficult, but probably the most important part!!) We also have a GREAT support network at school for him that reinforces all these systems. They have a ticket system for him there. I think the key is not reacting at all when he does something bad and giving him MANY opportunities to be rewarded for good choices and behavior. IT's slow going and very hard to retrain ourselves to do this. And the that is why YOU need support too. He takes his cues from you. And he gets something out of all the negative attention he receives, or he wouldn't be doing it. We have had to retrain ourselves to eliminate all negative attention and only give positive attention. That means letting him get away with things for awhile until he figures out he's not getting the feedback he craves that way. We have had good days and bad days with that, but there has definitely been a big improvement over the last year and now with the meds, a transformation. I see a therapist myself too, and my husband and I see a family therapist together also to help us through this. YOU CAN'T DO IT ALONE. Make sure you have the support you need, get strategies in place, and then have patience. It will take time, but you'll get there!!!

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I feel your pain. It would be so much easier if they would get up and do what they need to do to help get them off to school in the morning. The jumping out of the car drives me crazy. I ended up putting the child safety lock on the door and I also purchased a special cover for the buckle release. My son is taking Guanfacine ER at night which is supposed to have a calming effect which carries into the morning. Then he also takes Focalin XR which is also supposed to have a more calming effect than a “regular” methylphenidate medication. A reward system also works with my son at school, unfortunately it doesn’t work the best for me at home for some reason. Good luck!

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Have you thought of trying a different medication? Concerta didn't work for my child. She was taking Strattera and it made her edgy. She is now taking cbd oil and doing much better. Risperidone is also helpful especially with moods. Taken with supper in the evenings seems to give her a good night's rest. I also supplement with magnesium and melatonin.

Rewards can be helpful too. No punishments. I like jdharvy's plan.

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We resolved a lot of our sons morning issues by waking him up at 6:30 to take his meds then letting him sleep for another 20 to 30 minutes.

I know you said morning is your quite time. Something like this may work for both of you...

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I have thought about that but I am afraid he won't eat breakfast then and he is having issues with not eating enough calories.

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Getting kids who are on stimulants to eat is a challenge.

My 12yo son would hardly eat anything, was not growing, and was under weight.

We had a recent event that lead us to change his medication. We were over medicating him. We cut back on his Concerta to a level that was just enough to get him by.

Who would have thought this would work. But, it is working quite well. It's a struggle in the evening when his meds start to wear off. But, it's manageable with plenty of patience.

We went through some pretty dark times to get where we are. However, for the first time in a long time my son's personality and happy nature is back. He is also eating non-stop like a growing boy should do.

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The calories are secondary to getting him up.....try the meds early, let him sleep, and then give him food on the way to school or even a milkshake.

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I tried this today -- woke him up at 6 and gave him his meds then let him go back to sleep. It seemed to do the trick -- the morning was MUCH better. He even ate a decent breakfast!

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We've had medications that made the mornings also and others that cause them to wake up cheerful. My grandson psychiatrist says add doesn't kick in when you first get up, that it takes a little while before that brain is fired up.

I would definitely talk to your doctor.

My older grandson wet the bed until he was about 9. We used to buy the biggest overnight diapers we could. His pediatrician said some kids bladders just mature slower

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My 5 year old son was much the same until we made it a game. Some mornings he races his father to get ready first, as my husband gives him cues from the other room "I'm beating you! I have my socks on! Shoes on! Etc...

Other mornings we do beat the clock and use a timer and see if he can beat his best time.

I know with your son it is different because he is older, but I just thought id throw it out there.

And breath, you're not alone.

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Our 10 year old son has ADHD and is defiant. I love him but he can be such a jerk! He can be aggressive and mean. Usually he's like that when we say 'no' or he's feeling rushed or feeling our stress. It puts him over the edge. We stopped stressing about tardiness because that is secondary to getting passed these behaviors. Can't teach a kid that's out of control. I believe constant negative feedback can increase the problem. We motivate with rewards for doing basics, dressed, eat, teeth, in the car. We try not to be stressed because if that shows, it throws off morning. We balance this however with a strict rule around aggression. If he's aggressive verbally or physically, he's given a timeout. I make him sit there, physically if I need to, but with 'calm & gentle strength'. It's a difficult balancing act. Kids need to know we're in charge, we're confident, and we won't take bullshit, but we love them and will always be there for them.

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Yes, it especially happens when we tell him no. This morning was going pretty well till I told him he couldn't play on my phone and then he lost it.

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Yep. If I could have a penny for every fit my son has thrown over the use of "devices" I would be a rich man.

No advice for you there but to make sure you follow through with your plan and not give into him. He needs to understand there are consequences.

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A couple of suggestions: ADHD kids don't transition from one activity to another, so getting up and immediately having to do something is never great for them. Can you get your son up earlier and let him chill? Can he sleep in his school clothes? Or, can you wake him up and give him his meds (or at least half the dose) and let him go back to sleep for 30-40 minutes? We used to do this with our son and it allowed some of the meds to get into his system and helped him focus enough to get ready for school. Don't spend too much time talking to him or trying to get him into a good mood. Minimal talking and minimal requests are good. Rewards can work - what does he like? And breakfast can be in the car - anything he will eat - my son ate hot pockets for years!

This behavior is sort of over the top, even for and ADHD kid,so additional evaluation may be in order, if nothing else works. This might mean meds at night.

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Sounds a lot like my 8 year old daughter. She is tardy every day to school just about. I feel your pain. She has even grabbed a hold of me when I take her in and sign her in. I have to take her to the nurses office and have to pry her off of me and have some one hold her while I leave. Some times she goes straight to class with them and other days she puts up a fight and trys to excape and ditch school (she hasn't done that yet). She is not on any medications yet, but I am considering it. She has ADHD Combined, OCD, ODD, Anxiety-NOS and some Sensory issues. I was hoping it would get better this is her 3rd year there.(K,1 & 2); but it just keeps getting worse.

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