Teens, ADHD and the Holidays
There is a lot of information on managing the holidays with children with ADHD but very little about teens. Teens with ADHD may feel the stress of the holidays more than other teens - hypersensitivities and feeling overwhelmed with the extra activities. And, as with all teens, heading off to family gathering may cause extra problems.
The following are some tips to help you get through the holidays when you have a teen with ADHD:
Plan out any holiday homework. Once your child reaches high school, teachers may assign a report, project or homework to be completed over the holiday break. Find out what school work your teen has and help him plan a schedule for getting it completed. With the festivities and extra activities, your teen may keep putting it off - leaving all the work until the day before the break ends. Sit down and plan a schedule so he is doing a small amount at a time and there isn’t any end of holiday break rush to complete all the work.
Talk about expectations. Teens often feel let-down around the holidays. As your children mature, they may feel the magic of the season disappears and they are left with feelings of disappointment. Teens with ADHD are often more immature than their peers and may have trouble managing emotions. Talk to your teen about their expectations for the holiday and help them understand how although the holiday changes as they get older, there is still plenty to celebrate and enjoy.
Look for signs of depression. The “winter blues” frequently hit about this time of year. The cold weather and less sunshine contribute to feelings of depression. Teens with ADHD have a higher risk of comorbid depression. If you see signs, such as lethargy, avoiding friends and family and not wanting to participate in family celebrations, consider talking to your teens doctor about depression.
Keep your teen’s daily routine. During the holiday season, with extra activities or trips to relatives’ homes, your teen’s schedule may be completely off. Just as younger children need routine and structure, teens do too. Make sure your teen is getting enough sleep, eating right and stick to the daily routine as much as possible.
Consider your teen’s request to skip some family gatherings. Teens often request to stay home rather than going to endless family gatherings. While you may not feel comfortable with your teen skipping an overnight trip, consider allowing him to stay home when you go to visit Aunt Sue for the evening.
Include your teen in the planning. Are you hosting dinner? Ask your teen for help in preparing the menu or setting up for the party. Are you going away to see relatives? Talk to your teen about some activities he would like to do while out of town. Keeping your teen involved in the preparations helps him feel like he is a valued member of the family and that you respect his opinion.
Focus on the positive. Your stress level may be elevated, making you tired and cranky. Whenever your teen complains or acts up you want to scream. But your teen is feeling stress as well. Focus on the positive and let him know how much you appreciate this extra time you can spend together.