Focusing daughter on morning routine

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

bio | email

DEAR AMY: My daughter just turned 11 and has always had a touch of ADHD. She is bright, creative and fun, but she often forgets to do her "jobs." Simple things like brushing teeth or washing her face won't happen some mornings, even though we have a typed list taped to the bathroom wall that she is supposed to check each day. I don't want to micromanage her, but I also need these basic things to get done each day. What should I do?Frustrated ParentDEAR FRUSTRATED: I'm not sure what you mean by "a touch of ADHD." You say you want your daughter to wash her face and brush her teeth each morning. The key to your longer-term solution would be for both of you to realize she needs to accomplish these things for herself.

You should experiment by taking down the job list you taped to the wall. If you (and she) are wedded to the list system, then let her make her own -- in her own handwriting and decorated any way she wants.

Are there things on your list she automatically does? They needn't be included. What are the things she knows she needs to do but tends to forget? She should post reminders for herself.

How awful would it be for you if your daughter left the house one morning without washing her face or brushing her teeth? If you could be brave enough to let this happen, your daughter might realize it doesn't feel so great to have fuzzy teeth all day.

Unless you plan to follow your daughter through life with a list on a clipboard, I suggest it's time for her to get started.

My favorite gift for girls her age is, "The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls, Revised Edition," by Valorie Schaefer and Josée Massé (2012, American Girl). This wonderful book is a "how to" guide for girls about taking care of their changing bodies. It should be on your daughter's bedside table.