Surviving the Holiday Season with Children with ADHD

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To help keep sanity a part of your holiday routine, there are a number of tips that parents can incorporate into their daily life:

1)      Maintain routines as much as possible.  Sometimes this can be very difficult with the many activities that are going on. Schedule events around your child’s schedule. Bedtime routines and times are very important; children can cope much better with a good night’s sleep.

2)      Make up a holiday calendar to keep up in your kitchen. Make sure you include school events such as holiday parties and assemblies. Use the calendar to keep track of visits to friends and relatives, as well as times you plan to do holiday shopping.  Use the calendar to help your child know what is coming up and talk with them about your expectations during these events.

3)      Be proactive in your approach. Think about what problems may develop and determine if your expectations fit the situation. If necessary, shorten the time of a visit with friends or relatives. Talk with your child before each event about what to expect and what your expectations are. Be prepared with extra snacks or extra clothing that you know your child will like.

4)      Determine rewards and consequences for behavior prior to the holiday season and be consistent throughout.  Be sure to provide directions and instructions in small chunks and be sure to maintain eye contact while you are talking with your child. Let them know what the consequences will be if their behavior does not meet your expectations and what rewards will be. (Rewards can be simple such as staying up to watch a favorite television show or receiving a treat during shopping.)

5)      Be understanding of the extremes of children with ADHD. They may not be as reasonable in their demands, or their impulsiveness may lead to making more requests for gifts. Take time during the holiday season to talk with them about helping those less fortunate and add the purchase a gift to donate to other children to your shopping list. If you cannot afford to donate toys, find locations in your area that make up food baskets and donate some time to help make up or distribute food baskets to needy families.