Children with ADHD have endless energy, impulsive impulses, and tend to become easily bored. All of this can add up to a child getting in trouble, spending their days antagonizing siblings, causing trouble and frustrating parents or caregivers. Be prepared for the upcoming summer season with some of the tips below to make your summer with your ADHD child a little calmer and more relaxing:
Create a summer reading program. Children with ADHD so often fall behind in school and reading skills are one of the most important ways parents can help a child stay prepared for school success.
Choose one behavior to work on over the summer. Use the break from school to focus on improving one area. Whether it is social skills, self-confidence, anger control, following directions or completing chores, the summer months can be a great time to make strides. Be sure to choose only one behavior at a time and talk to your child about specific goals. Create a way to measure the progress so everyone knows what success means. See also: Games to Motivate Your Child
Take advantage of local resources. Check into community centers, local colleges or clubs to find enrichment activities and give your child a chance to try something new. Try signing your child up for acting, music or dance lessons. Summer is a great time because it offers exposure to new ideas without a long term commitment.
Structure time as much as possible. Children with ADHD thrive on structure, knowing what to expect and when to expect it. Set a daily routine to include outside play, reading, meal-times, bedtime and limited time for television and video games. Structured days can help in developing self-discipline and in maintaining good behavior. See also: Strategies for Parenting Children with ADHD
Help your child develop friendships. Encourage your child to invite other children to your home to spend time together. Friendships build feelings of self-worth. Help your child plan activities such as riding bikes, going to the movies, skating, going to the mall. Offer to pick up your child’s friend. If your child is young and has difficulty with social skills, you may want the first few visits to be at home, where you can supervise. See also: ADHD - Social Skills for the Child Who Doesn’t Fit In
Have at least one or two scheduled activities each week. Use your child’s interests and sign him or her up for classes, activities or a summer camp. This will give your child something to look forward to and can minimize the number of times you hear, “I’m bored.” See also: Finding a Summer Camp for Your Child with ADHD
Ask for your children’s suggestions on what they would like to do. Your children probably have ideas on what activities they would like. Try to incorporate some of these activities into your summer plans.
Decide whether you are continuing medication through the summer and, if so, are you staying at the same dosage? Some families choose to take a break from medication or to lower the dose during the break from school. Other parents may feel their child needs medication whether in school or not. If changing doses, talk with your doctor first.
Plan ahead. When taking day trips or vacation, decide what you want to do, where you will be stopping, how long you will be there. In addition, take along games, cards, and books to keep your children occupied in the car ride, in the hotel or at relative’s homes. Letting everyone know what is going to happen can minimize the meltdowns, tantrums and misbehaviors. Also see: Surviving Summer Holidays
Make time for you. Often, the summer can leave parents feeling frazzled and exhausted. It is important to take some time for you and your spouse. Hire a babysitter or trade babysitting with friends and relatives to make sure you and your spouse have time to be together, without the kids.
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.