Winter Break and Kids with ADHD

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • In a few days your children will come home from school and not have to go back until after the New Year. For many children, this time is a welcome break; no homework, sleeping late, getting together with friends. But for children with ADHD and their parents, winter break can be a long, difficult 10 days. In some areas of the country, winter break activities are controlled by the weather - temperatures and mounting snow make it difficult to get around - leaving you and your children stuck indoors for the better part of the break. But even when the weather is good, it seems your children have just gotten into the routine of school and suddenly they are off for 10 days, sending your hard work down the drain.

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    Keep Busy

    In the weeks leading up to the holiday, it is easy to stay busy. There is shopping, baking, cooking, school events and parties to go to. There seems to be a never ending supply of things to do. But once the holiday is over, days off from school loom ahead. Life moves from chaotic to “there’s nothing to do.” Of course, there is driving you crazy and fighting with siblings but it’s those behaviors you are trying to keep to a minimum. When preparing for the holiday, don’t stop at bedtime Christmas day; plan activities for throughout the week.

    • You might want to put off some of your family get-togethers until after the holiday, giving you and your children a place to go later in the week.  
    • Try to have toys that require attention, focus and minimum of adult supervision. Although this can be tough to do, look for toys, games, puzzles and activities that revolve around your child’s interests to keep his attention.
    • Plan some family time each day. Set aside one hour each day to spend with your children, focusing on their needs.
    • Rent movies and have family movie night. Use movie night as a quiet family activity where you can all be together but instead of running around, cuddle up together on the couch.
    • Spend time outside. If the weather permits, and even if it is a bit cold, try to have your children spend some time outdoors each day to get rid of some pent-up energy.


    Stick to Your Daily Routine

    Older children often want to sleep until noon, but then don’t want to go to bed until way past when you are ready. Stick to your routine throughout the winter break as much as possible. Wake up your kids at a reasonable hour and keep their normal bedtime. Children with ADHD work better when they have a consistent, structured and predictable routine.  Schedule meals as close to when meals are served on a normal school day as you can. This will also help them make the transition back to school easier.


    Exercise their Brain

    Add some brain-stimulating games, such as Monopoly, Scrabble or Risk  to help your kids’ minds stay active during the break. You don’t have to practice their math, review vocabulary or insist they finish the school project they are working on, but it is important for their brain to stay in shape and be ready to go back to school. There are a lot of games that offer younger versions so no matter what age your child is, there are ways to help keep their mind active. If you want to head out of the house, plan some day trips to local museums.


Published On: December 17, 2012