Can you feel the holiday stress in the air? I can, and I don’t even have kids at home any more. The holidays bring a lot of extra activity for parents and kids, and it’s the kind of activity that makes things extra stressful for you and your ADD/ADHD child. The shopping, parties, special events and overall hype of the season mess with daily routines, healthy eating and sleep schedules. On top of that, there’s a two-week vacation ahead. More excitement for our ADD kids. More stress for mom and dad.
Our kids are already struggling to stay calm and focused at home and at school, with all the extras ahead, they’re going to need some help navigating the season.
Stay ahead of the curve. As a parent, be extra attentive to school calendars and messages from the teacher. Mark all the special events and classroom activities on the family calendar so your child can be well prepared.
Stick to the schedule. Do everything in your power to stick to daily routines and bedtimes. As tempting as it may be to let the kids stay up late, you’ll all pay for it later. A few late nights at an event may be unavoidable, but it’s also ok to say no to some invitations.
Keep the healthy food coming. Parties at school and special events are sugar, fat and fun times, but it doesn’t have to be. All kids are affected by too much sugar and processed foods, and kids with ADD even more so. Change things up. Have the focus of holiday party be an activity. An art activity is always a good choice.
Prepare well. Whether it’s dinner at grandma’s house, or a big family reunion, parties mean lots of extra and sometimes unfamiliar, people and places. Our ADD kids do better when they know what to expect and what’s expected of them. Tell them who’s going to be there and what’s going to happen. Let them know what is expected of them.
Please and thank you. Good behavior still matters. Since our ADD kids often struggle managing their impulsive chatter, we may have our own reservations about them participating in social settings. But they need to. Practice some general social skills but be careful not to stress or put pressure on them before an event. Give them some ideas on what to expect and how to act. Keep it light and expect good things.
Feed them first. Feed your kids before you go to the party. Yes, there’s going to be food there. But feeding them a nutritious meal ahead of time means you won’t be stressed trying to get them to eat in a place they really won’t want to.
Plan your exit time. You know your kids. You know how long they can manage themselves at large events, so honor that and plan accordingly. If it’s a 5-hour event and your child’s max time is 3 hours, get there a little late and leave early. In some instances, you’ll want to let the hostess know ahead of time, so no offense all around.
Bring reinforcements. It’s all to easy to bring kids to an event with a favorite device and let them pass the time in isolation. But it’s not good. These celebrations and events are great opportunities for kids to develop much needed social skills. There’s lots to be gained sitting and listening to grandpa’s stories, helping grandma in the kitchen or playing with cousins. Real playing. But when the time is right, and you know they’ve had enough, help them find a quiet place to do an activity you brought or use their tech device.
Get up and get moving. Be the family that goes outside and plays football. We’ve seen it on TV. In shows. Commercials. We all want to be that family. Play hockey. Volleyball. Go for a walk. Anything. If it’s not something your family does, start a new tradition. Pick a game or activity your child can participate in. Whatever it is, get the kids and adults up and moving. At the very least, you and your kids can move a bit.
It’s going to be a busy next few weeks with a lot of hype coming at us from all directions. And yes, it’s going to be stressful and it’s going to affect you and your child. Putting some of these things in place, as many as you can, will help, along with a healthy serving of grace, for everyone in the family.
Please help share the calm by telling us something you do to get through the holidays in peace.
Stay tuned for tips on surviving and thriving during holiday break.