Tips for Holiday Shopping with Children with ADHD

By Eileen Bailey

For most of us, the holiday season brings a sense of joy.  We look forward to celebrating with family and friends. We spend our free time shopping for the perfect gift.  The hours spent in malls may be exciting to us, or it may be a chore we dread.

For children, especially those with ADHD, hours in a shopping mall can mean endless opportunities to get into trouble.  There have been numerous occasions when my son would disappear in a matter of moments, only to have me panicking before finding him hiding beneath a rack full of clothing.  The urge to touch and feel merchandise in a store may just be too much to resist and you may find yourself continually correcting your child.  Your children may become restless, fidgety, tired, cranky, and hungry. Shopping trips can become shopping nightmares quickly, leaving both you and your child frustrated. Even if you started out looking forward to the joy of purchasing gifts for your family and friends, you may end up worn out and ready to leave the mall, even if you haven’t even completed your list of items to buy.

For some people, hiring a babysitter to stay at home with your children while you wander the malls may be the perfect solution. For others, the holiday budget may not include such a luxury and you need to make the best of it and shop with your children in tow.  There are some ways that you can help to make your shopping trips more enjoyable for both you and your children:

1)      Break down shopping trips into short excursions, rather than day-long events.  Set a specific time limit that you will be in the mall.  Children often can behave for a short time, especially when they know there is an end in sight.  Let them know how long you will be shopping. If they are old enough, you can have them wear a watch and they can keep track of how long you have been in the mall and when it is time to leave.  Going to the mall for one to two hours is usually long enough for young children.  Although it may take you several trips to complete your gift-giving list, the time spent in the mall should be more pleasant for all.

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