Managing ADHD at Holiday Gatherings
ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder varies with different people and children. Some have severe cases and some have mild cases but most are managed with some type of medication if their case is severe enough to warrant a prescription. Some parents choose alternative therapy or holistic medication to manage their children that have ADHD. Some parents completely take their child off the medication because studies have shown that when children are small and start using the medication, they tend to be smaller in weight and stature. Whatever you choose as parents as far as your child is concerned, make sure if they are on medication that you as parents are consistent with giving the medication on schedule or you might be in for a lot of frustration. The holidays are approaching and children are home from school, families get together to celebrate and there is always an abundance of leisure time. You would guess that free time from work and school is great because the fireplace is going and you and your family should feel all warm and cozy during the holiday season.
In reality, when children are home during the holidays, it is very difficult for parents if their child has ADHD. These parents are not really feeling jolly, they are dreading the thought of their kids bouncing off the walls because of lack of structure. Many families become very apprehensive about what to do with their kids when the schools are closed for the holidays.
A factor that is very complicated is the parents too may suffer from ADHD, the same disorder as their children. It is very common for parents with ADHD to start feeling very overwhelmed and cranky during this time of the year. This generally is because parents feel that the holiday season disrupts their familiar and structured routines with their children. They are wondering how to avoid the chaos that can arise out of nowhere during the Christmas and holiday season.
When you as a parent share the same disorder as your child, it still is possible to reduce the stress you all will be feeling during the holiday season. Here are a few ideas to help you cope with the stress you are anticipating during the holiday season.
Ideas for Holiday Stress reduction
It still is important for your children to keep a routine of sorts or some type of schedule. When a child and parents have ADHD, this is extremely important for all of you to keep a similar schedule that you all are generally used to during the school and work week.
Keeping the same schedule means to schedule 3 meals a day and to eat the proper foods and keep sugar out of the equation.
Try to maintain some structured activities because this is important for ADHD children so they don’t have too much down time and become bored. Being bored is only an invitation for your kids to get into trouble. Plans should be made prior to the holidays with your kids with consideration in regards to the activities that they like to do.
When you choose to visit relatives and friends or decide to entertain at home, make sure you keep the rules for appropriate conduct intact and review the rules again with your children if need be. It’s always a good idea to have a list of rules and you can post them on an erasure board. If your kids are young and still believe in Santa, you can create a “Naughty and Nice” board and explain to your child that Santa sent you some stick on stars and gold is for great behavior, silver is mediocre and red is for negative behavior or whining. This is a great way for your child to try and behave so they don’t get coal for Christmas. This helps reinforce good behavior and you and your child can agree that Santa thinks it’s necessary. If your children are older you can have them do household chores to avoid yelling yourself and losing control.
Just because it’s a holiday does not mean that it’s a holiday from any medications. If children are taking prescribed stimulants that are working to control their hyperactivity and attention span, make sure the kids take the medication the whole week they are off from school for Christmas vacation. They still have to behave properly in front of relatives and when they visit their friends, even though they are not in school.
When you do make plans for the holidays, it’s not only the children who should be included. Many marriages are strained because of the stress of having a child with ADHD. Statistics say that 23 percent of marriages end in divorce when there are children that have ADHD. Therefore, it is very important that parents communicate with each other and both have input in planning for the holidays.
It is also important for parents to find time to be alone with each other during the holidays. Babysitters or other caregivers including relatives can be asked to help out with the kids so the parents can take some time off for each other.
For parents that suffer from adult ADHD, this is not easy for them either and this is why parents need to work together to accomplish getting through the holiday season without arguing. It’s still important whether parents have ADHD or not to still find some time to de-stress by working out, meditating and finding some good leisure time. Children also need plenty of exercise during the holiday season. This includes all children, even those that don’t have ADHD. Exercise always helps everyone calm down and control their impulsiveness if they have hyperactivity.
It’s also important for children to have space as well as parents. Children always need warm, loving parents, and attention and some kids need more than others if they have a disorder. You can always talk to your children about different options, but make sure they receive enough personal and private attention over the holiday season.
Regardless of how you and your significant other, plan the holiday season, remember the keyword is a plan. The worst thing you can do is not plan for a structured time because unstructured is an enemy for all children and families. This is more so if you have a child with ADHD. So have a great holiday season, as free of stress as possible with your children and loved ones!