Learn to stay positive and have fun while your kids are out of school. Work with your ADHD child to have a calm, enjoyable holiday break from the structured schedule of school days.
When kids are out of school for two weeks or more, it’s a recipe for going stir crazy. For children with ADHD, this can be a particularly difficult time to conform to behavior expectations. It’s the perfect time of year to commit to parenting with compassion and understanding. Make an effort to create a positive atmosphere for your family and your ADHD child this holiday season.
Be aware of how you characterize ADHD
If you’ve unintentionally communicated negative expectations, your child may not feel compelled to behave over the holidays. Avoid saying that your child’s ADHD stresses you or other family members out. Kids listen, and they pick up on bad feelings and may internalize them.
Focus on what makes your child unique and special instead of focusing on her behavior disorder. Start conversations about the holidays and fun events you have planned. Keep topics happy and light as often as you can.
Develop a game plan and stick to it
Keep your child’s ADHD management routine as steady as possible while school is out. If your child is in therapies, talk to your child’s heath care providers to get individualized suggestions — especially if your child will be missing appointments. Go into the holiday break knowing that you may need to spend some extra time with your child. Consider it a special chance to do some of the activities your child normally does at school, such as craft time or outdoor play.
Don’t be afraid to break routine
While routines and structure can be helpful for kids with ADHD, it’s also perfectly okay to try new things during the holiday break. Hit a children’s museum you rarely visit, go on a nature hike together or go on a one-on-one shopping excursion. Ask for help wrapping just one or two presents. Allow for some flexibility with bedtimes and mealtimes and play it by ear, checking to see how your child responds. Try a new holiday spin on some of the activities that normally calm and focus your child.
Reward expected behavior
Over the holiday break, try to avoid using “bad” when discussing your child’s behavior. Kids who struggle with hyperactivity and attentiveness don’t need extra stress worrying if they’re being naughty or nice before Christmas. Instead, communicate expectations. Let your child know exactly what’s expected of him during the day and at holiday gatherings.
Try a unique holiday reward system to encourage your child to stay on task and avoid disruptions. If disruptive behavior occurs or you get frustrated, don’t make a big scene. As a parent, you can set the right example of peace and love during the holidays.