Surviving the Holiday Season with Children with ADHD

By Eileen Bailey

The excitement and anticipation that comes along with the holiday season is sometimes overwhelming for children, especially those with ADHD. 

What do you do over the holiday season?  Do you often visit with friends and relatives, staying later than your child’s normal bedtime?  Do you deviate from your normal schedule more often than you stick to it?  Do you have rushed days, spend weekends completing holiday activities?  Besides the hustle and bustle of the holidays, children are inundated with excessive commercials for the latest toys and bombarded with images of Christmas.  Their excitement begins before Thanksgiving and with each passing day, it grows. 

Children with ADHD thrive with consistency.  They work well in a structured environment.  With the disruption of daily schedules, your child may suffer in school and their behavior at home may be disasterous.  Children that are normally hyperactive may become even more so. (Is that really possible?)  Children that are distracted easily will find it even more difficult to stay focused on the mundane school tasks.  Children that are impulsive may find their impulsiveness increase.  For some parents, this change in behaviors can begin as early as October and last well into January. 

For children that have a hard time socially, this time of year may be especially difficult.  Their classmates may make plans to get together with friends over the winter break from school. For the child that does not have many friends, this may make them feel even more isolated.  Family gatherings may be stressful if your child does not yet have the social skills to act appropriately, or they may spend the day feeling left out and alone.  Some parents complain that fights with siblings increase as well during the holiday season.

Parents must deal with their own commitments and responsibilities during this time as well as help their child cope with the daily stress the holidays bring.  Parents can end up frazzled and frustrated, impatiently waiting for the season to end rather than enjoying this special time of the year.

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