Where I live, the weather just turned to "nice," so it seems strange to be thinking of the "upcoming" summer months but despite the recent cold, summer is coming and school will let out for several months. For some parents of children with ADHD, the summer months bring a relief from constant homework battles or meetings with teachers. But for some, summertime is the dreaded season. Their children with ADHD tend to act up more and everyday brings a new catastrophe.
When you have a child, or children, with ADHD, preparation is key. Creating a plan for the summer, even if you will be spending the days at home with your children, can be the difference between stress-filled days or a (somewhat) relaxing and enjoyable several months. The following tips can help you prepare for the upcoming summer months.
Decide if your child is going to to overnight camp****. If so, the spring months are the best time to make reservations for your child to attend camp. Choose a camp that offers structure but still allows your child to explore his interests and make friends.
Look into day programs in your area. Local park and recreation departments often offer an wide array of summer programs and day camps. If you don’t have any in your area, check with local colleges, churches or community centers. Check with the guidance counselor at your child’s school to find out if she knows of any programs in your area. There are also many private day camps, however, these are often more expensive.
Create a plan for days your children will be home during the day. While you want to keep in mind, summer break is a way for your child to get away from the pressures of school, you don’t want long stretches of time when your child has nothing to do. Children with ADHD do best when there is a daily routine. Plan some structured time, such as eating, reading, outside play, computer or television time or chores to minimize the boredom.
**Make a list of activities your child enjoys****. **This might be bike-riding, skateboarding, drawing, reading or whatever activities your child finds fun. When you hear "I’m bored," you and your child can refer to the list to find something to do.
Find a way for your child to learn something new****. Look into classes or programs where your child can learn. It might be taking a gymnastics class, learning to draw, learning to ride a two-wheel bike, learning to swim. When your child learns a new skill, it is a boost to self-confidence.
**For older children, look for volunteer opportunities. **Children can help at summer camp programs (especially if they previously attended the camp.) But there are also many organizations that can use help. Check out the opportunities in your neighborhood. Volunteering gives your child a sense of accomplishment as well as a sense of pride.
Schedule fun outings at least once a week. Make use of local historical sites, museums, plan a day in the park, go to the library. Set aside one or two days a week (or one day on the weekend if you and your spouse both work) to spend family time. If your children are home most of the week, these outings will help break up the time and give your family a chance to have fun together.
Schedule play dates with school friends. One way to make sure social skills don’t decline over the summer is to make sure your child is still interacting with classmates. Before school ends, talk to a few parents of children your child spends time with at school and make plans to have the children get together once a week or every other week.
Keep up with ADHD treatment. If your child usually takes medication, talk with your doctor before deciding to stop the medication during the summer. If your child normally sees a therapist or behavioral specialist, keep up these appointments during the summer months.
When you take the time to plan ahead for summer break, everyone has a more enjoyable, relaxing time.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.