16-year-old ADHD son. Takes medication for ADHD and works best as it can for school and focus. He procrastinates terribly and winds up going to bed after mom and dad each night. Can't rise in the morning and I literally jerk him out of bed. I feel like the jerk. He asks me "What did I do to deserve this?" I feel rotten but he can't miss/mess up this carpool. We've been kicked out of others for being late. We've tried EVERYTHING to keep him on task and I even stood by him last night while he did most of his homework but I can't stand by him every night...he's 16! I want him to become independent because I won't be able to stay with him every minute when he's 18, 19, 20. He sees a psychologist and psychiatrist. He's actually seen about 5 different psychologists through the years but this focus thing is really hard at home. He can't focus and then can't even wind up getting up from his desk to go to bed and I need to go to bed so I can't wait until 12:00 a.m. to force him to go to bed. We're all tired!
Any of you (adults included) with tricks on how to get the transition going from homework to bed?
The following user gives a hug of support to busymommy: Thunor (02-10-2013)
I wish I had the answer for you. As an adult with ADHD, I've struggled with similar issues my whole life and have tried many things, with varying degrees of success. It's very common for ADHDers to stay up late and struggle to wake up. Unfortunately, I have never found a definitive answer for this issue. There are some things that can help, of course.
While I'm afraid I may come off as cold-hearted, your son is getting to an age where he is going to have to make some decisions and help himself, you can't be there for him forever. If his issue is difficulty finding the motivation to go to bed on time, he's going to have to find his own reasons for wanting to get to school on time.
If the issue is that he struggles to fall asleep, he needs to ensure that his diet is healthy, and that he avoids carbohydrates and artificial flavours and preservatives, especially late in the day--and no Red Bull. He needs to ensure that he gets an hour or more of strenuous exercise every day, whether it be cardiovascular or weight training (though at 16, he doesn't want to get super heavy with weights yet, it's too soon). Be sure that he is not taking his meds too late in the day, unless specifically instructed by his doctor. I would recommend that he not take any stimulant med after noon, or earlier if it's a long-acting medication. Finally, if the sleep issues don't resolve with careful diet and exercise, there are pharmaceutical aids for sleep that his psychiatrist can help him with.
Routine and structure are an ADHDers best friend--unfortunately, we're wired to rail against both, and to try to avoid them. He needs to establish the most consistent routine possible, and stick to it, even on weekends. His peers may be able to get away with sleeping until noon on weekends and holidays, but doing so will be trouble for an ADHD individual. Life is much, much easier for us if we can set our watches by our routine, in time your body becomes accustomed to it, and waking and sleeping will happen automatically.
Now, I've given you some suggestions that in hindsight paint a rosy picture, I have never found it that easy. That said, each of these suggestions will make a difference to his ease of sleeping/waking, employing all three will make far more difference than employing one or two. Sadly, he will probably fight you tooth and nail, because again, that's how we're wired. Your son is responsible for his own future, and will need to decide to fight his nature in order for this to work.
I know what your son is going through, I went through the same thing in high school. After homework I would take a shower, around 9pm, and read a book, Grimms Tales For Young and Old, until I fell asleep around 11pm. I accustomed myself to wake up at 6am every morning, take my pill, and eat breakfast. The main enticement for waking up so early? I would watch cartoons in the morning, and guess what, it worked. Although I established this sleep cycle myself and not by my parents.
I had school at 7:30am, so you can adjust the cycle based on your schedule. Keep in mind, adhd children have been known to require less sleep than a typical person, I averaged 5-7 hours a night in high school and about the same during my past two years in college. I still wake up at 6am, but I study instead of watch TV in the morning.
Keep in mind, sleep cycles take around a month to lock-in. So don't get discouraged.
I have to say I really feel for your family, this is basically the story of my life. I was constantly late in high school for just those reasons, I know what it's like. I have to agree with Thunor and WinBack, sometimes you have to keep a schedule. Exercise really helps, it gets lout all that extra energy, helps you focus, and helps you sleep better at night. It doesn't have to be strenuous, but anything that gets you moving and keeps you occupied.
It's also really good to have a set bed time, even if it is one in the morning. I never needed much sleep in high school and you may find that even teens without AD/HD often don't get much of it. He may need something to help him sleep, melatonin works for a lot of people. The set bed time was always flexible for me, but it helped me to anchor down a time. It won't work all the time, and I have no idea how it's worked for anyone on weekends.
But bed time, will help set up habits and help create a sense of time, something that us ADDers tend to lack. Time is always slipping away.
I have to concur with the stimulants, too. Bad idea any time in the late afternoon.
Getting up in the morning really has to be his choice, in my opinion. When I was at home, the more my mom yelled at me, the less I wanted to get up. I had to deal with the consequences myself, and that's what ultimately helped. I didn't mind the consequences so much because it was my decisions that lead to them.
I set up multiple alarms at night, different tones depending on how late it is. Get everything ready the night before, especially shoes! I can't tell you how many times I lost my shoes. Sometimes put the alarm out of reach, so I had to get out of bed to turn it off.
It's possible that maybe he just doesn't want to get out of bed. Are you sure there's nothing going on at school, or does he dread first period?
But ultimately, he has to be self-motivated. The most powerful thing you can give him is choice, and trust me that's powerful at 16. You can't force him to do homework, he has to figure out what methods work best for him. Maybe it's doing it a little at a time, maybe it's doing them at the last minute (as horrible as it sounds, crunch time is an excellent motivator). Maybe he needs a change of scenery or a permanent homework spot.
I'm sorry this is a really long reply, I guess I just feel strongly about this issue as it's something I've been through. Just remember, we all made it through, and everyone develops different methods. Try to support him and his ideas as much as you can. It's really important to know that someone thinks you'll make it through.
Thanks, Nimbus, just saw your reply. I can honestly say that he has gotten better! Son is now 17 and was recently prescribed medication for anxiety (as well as his ADD medication). This has worked amazingly well! I still need to "wake" him up in the morning, but he actually does get up and isn't angry! He had this "underlying" anxiety that has now been somewhat conquered and we are just so happy at this point.