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Help Your Family Get Ready for Church

Because October is both ADHD and Down syndrome Awareness Month, Making Us Whole will focus on addressing concerns and raising awareness of both of these disabilities. Regardless of your connection with ADHD or Down syndrome, we hope that these posts will leave you more informed about the unique joys and struggles families touched by either of these disabilities encounter. 

I invite you to take a walk with me in this parent’s shoes for a moment:

Sunday morning is the most stressful part of your week. You dread having to hassle your 3 young kids into getting up, dressed, and into the car for church. This is the first feat of the day, never mind getting them to sit still at church.

It’s particularly difficult for your son, Benny, to get ready in the morning. While you can tell your other two children they need to be ready by 9 AM, Benny, who has ADHD, needs constant reminding. He would rather play with his Legos than get dressed – he is in no rush. By the time you arrive at church, you feel frazzled, rushed, and not prepared to worship God, as Dr. Stephen Grcevich at Key Ministry points out. You also feel ashamed because your pre-worship experience wasn’t full of gentleness and peace, two Fruits of the Spirit you feel expected to demonstrate at church.

If this situation describes you, you may be like other families with young children with ADHD. Doug Bouman, director of evaluation services at All Belong, has some tips for helping your Sunday mornings go smoother:

  1. Display the morning routine in pictures with words. Have your child remove each picture after completing the task to give them a sense of accomplishment. Presenting a visual cue is a great reference for children who struggle to hold information internally.
  2. Use a timer to visually display how much time your son or daughter has to get ready. This will help children with ADHD who struggle to understand the passage of time.
  3. Provide incremental warnings for when you’re leaving (“we’re leaving in 5 minutes”).
  4. At the beginning of each week, go over the week’s schedule on a family whiteboard. Again, another helpful visual reference.
  5. Use short moments of competition to fuel a sense of urgency and bridge the connection between current performance and future outcomes.
  6. Provide concrete evidence and affirmation for small successes.

Stay tuned later this week for suggestions to help your child with ADHD engage in church. 

Douglas Bouman
Doug Bouman
School Psychologist, Director Emeritus

Doug Bouman is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and Licensed Masters Social Worker