Navigating ADHD Inc. is a solutions based approach to supporting families whose lives are affected by ADHD. Navigating ADHD helps children, parents, educators and medical professionals struggling with an ADHD diagnosis.
“My goal went from Seth getting good grades this year to him making the bus at least once a week.. Talk about lowering the bar!” -Joanna, exasperated parent
Seth is a funny, energetic sixth grader who loves to play basketball, video games, and annoy his younger siblings. When he is not cracking jokes or displaying his generally silly behavior, he is busy looking for his lost shoe or his school agenda book. Joanna tells us that she can make jokes about it with her friends, but on the inside she is at her wits end. She wakes up bracing herself and savoring her cup of coffee because she knows the minute Seth wakes up, the frantic morning will begin. She will be dragging him out of bed, reminding him 12 times to come eat breakfast, get dressed, and brush his teeth before heading out the door to the bus. Most days, all of the nagging turns to yelling and they spend 15 minutes searching for a missing shoe before they end up missing the bus anyways.
Does this sound familiar to you? How many times have you returned home from bringing your child to school to discover his homework folder sitting there on the table?
Hectic mornings filled with nagging, no actually begging your child to just get out the door for school is so common in families affected by ADHD. The morning can be the most challenging time for a variety of reasons. First, you are on a strict timeline that doesn’t allow for getting distracted while eating breakfast or putting on shoes. Second, if your child has ADHD, you are probably walking them through every step and backtracking to complete those steps. Simple tasks like eating, basic hygiene and packing school belongings can be filled with yelling, nagging, and then finally just doing them for your child so you can get to school on time. And if you are like Seth’s mom, Joanna, you get to do the exact same agonizing routine the next day.
We hear similar stories day after day and while you may feel like you are the only household with a morning routine of nagging, yelling and chaos, we are here to tell you that you are not alone. After listening to thousands of similar stories, we have worked with those very families to develop strategies that work. They are simple, easy to implement and reduce morning stress. Know that if you implement just one of these strategies, you will save yourself some valuable time and energy. Implement them all and you can have some peaceful, systematic mornings.
Complete as much as possible the night before school. Pack the lunch, the backpack and everything that needs to go to school WITH your child. Start by doing this with your child and then transition to giving your child independence to doing it on his own. In the morning, the only parts of the routine that need to be completed are getting dressed, basic hygiene and breakfast. This adds onto your evening routine, but it is WORTH every extra minute you have in the morning. When all of these things are complete, have your child place them right next to the door, or if you are driving to school go ahead and have your child put them in the car.
Communicate with the ADHD Brain in Mind. Remember that your primary goal is to get your message across to your child. If your child has ADHD, there is a good chance he is missing many of the morning directives you are giving him. Whether his attention is drawn elsewhere or he lost in the world of hyperfocus on a preferred task, your goal is to get him to hear what you are saying. He is not purposefully ignoring you or being lazy about his routine. His attention is simply placed elsewhere. Make eye contact and be in close proximity when speaking to your child. Then make sure your child is engaged in learning the morning routine by asking instead of telling. Try out, “What do you need to do next?” instead of simply telling him to go brush his teeth.
Create Visual Reminders. If there is an item or task that is consistently forgotten, a well placed sign can help. Signs taped to the breakfast table, to the door as you leave your house or a post it on a jacket are creative examples that cue even the most forgetful child. If signs like these haven’t worked in the past, have your child create a bright, bold, sign that you can attach some string to and hang from the ceiling. Hang it in a spot where your child literally gets hit in the face by the sign. How’s that for a reminder?
Streamline the Morning. To minimize distractions between tasks, have your child complete everything he can in each room before he moves on to the next. For example, before he leaves his bedroom he should get dressed, put his pajamas in the dirty laundry and collect any belongings he needs to bring with him for the day.
Take a look at the difference these four simple strategies have made in Seth’s family’s life.
Joanna wakes up with a sense of peace as she pours her cup of coffee. She rises from the breakfast table to go upstairs and wake Seth. While she is in the other room waking up Seth’s brothers, he comes out of his room, completely dressed with his reading book in hand. He walks downstairs, pops a bagel in the toaster and gets the peanut butter out of the pantry. He sits down, eats his breakfast quickly on a placemat that he made that says “Put Your Plate in the Sink!” After breakfast, he actually puts the plate in the sink and heads into the bathroom to brush his teeth. He streamlined his morning by putting another toothbrush in the downstairs bathroom so he wouldn’t get distracted on his trip back upstairs. After brushing his teeth, he puts on his jacket, picks up his packed backpack and heads outside. He shoots baskets in the driveway until Joanna signals it’s time for him to head to the bus stop on the corner. Seth’s morning went from a hectic hour of nagging and prompting to complete independence and a sense of achievement. Joanna’s morning went from an a aggravated frenzy to a systematized daily routine. This takes time and patience and of course won’t happen overnight but you can get there. Repetition and your child’s input will help everyone find success.
Is it possible to connect screen time with self-esteem? You might find this hard to believe and think about the time your child was accused of bullying someone online, or the time your daughter cried all night because her group of friends posted pictures of a party she wasn’t invited to or what about the endless chat streak arguments that you know make everyone feel badly? Children and teens are naturally drawn to screens so the goal is to guide them in using screens appropriately. With positive screen goals and skills, screens can build self-esteem and provide many opportunities for learning and growth. You might even be surprised at the techy skill set your child already has and how it might be used as a future job skill.
“Sara, can you please help me with this?”
“I am working on my presentation for work and it looks so boring. I need to add some visuals and have no idea how.”
“Oh, that’s easy! I will be right there.”’
Sara has been taking a graphic design class at school and has been putting her creative skills to use digitally. She has been getting an A in the class and loves the projects. This is a perfect example of how a challenge can be turned into a positive all while building self-esteem.
Learning new skills and developing career goals- Some children and teens are naturally gifted when it comes to the digital world and screens. Their natural curiosity and ability to use technology often inspires them to turn a passion into a career.
Initiating a friendship/communication for shy children – While some children with ADHD struggle with friendships due to impulsivity, others cognitively shut down when they don’t know what to say socially. Screens provide a great place to think about what to say before actually saying anything. The person on the other end doesn’t have to “see” how nervous your child is. This can provide just the boost of confidence your child needs before practicing in person.
Self-Advocacy – Drafting and sending emails to teachers is a great way to help your tween and teen develop solid self-advocacy skills. It also takes the pressure off having to remember to talk to a teacher and on top of that remember your question. This automatically builds self-esteem because your child will feel heard and will get more comfortable with asking questions.
Homework – Of course it would be nice to always remember to write down homework assignments with all of the details but the reality is that this can be a very challenging task! Screens have made it possible to reach out to a classmate to double check on a homework assignment or to even have a picture taken of an assignment. For some children, keeping track of their homework by taking a picture of the board has made the constant battle of using a paper agenda a thing of the past. And yes, your children probably do need to check their phone for a group chat that was created to work on a group project! Self-esteem grows when you are a successful student.
All of these positives have something in common and that is self-empowerment. Each of these positive uses of screens bring about feelings of being in control. With an ADHD diagnosis feelings of being out of control can exacerbate symptoms and decrease self-esteem. Using technology to streamline school assignments, practice new habits and share knowledge provide a boost for self-esteem and an avenue for personal growth. You can see this come together when Sara is stuck on a school assignment.
“Sara, how is your lab report coming along?”
“Are you sure? You said that last time and got a D.”
“It’s just really hard, I don’t understand what she wants in the analysis section. No one in my group gets it, she is so confusing.”
“Why don’t you stay after for some extra help.”
“No, that’s even worse! It doesn’t help!”
“Could you send her an email with your questions about the analysis section and see if that helps.”
‘What would I say?”
“Hmmm, well you could let her know you are confused and could she tell you what goes into the analysis section.”
“Ok, she probably won’t answer me but I will try. Can you help me write it out?”
Sara ended up being surprised when her teacher got back to her quickly with a list of what should be in the section. Sara found that it was easy to ask her teacher questions this way and the replies she received from her teacher were easy to understand.
At Navigating ADHD, Inc., we have been contacted by many parents and teachers to discuss the positives and the negatives of Fidget Spinners in the classroom.
Fidget spinners were invented in the early 1990’s by a chemical engineer. They soon made their way into offices as a tool to help relieve stress. Thanks to the power of the internet they became mainstream shortly thereafter as a must have toy for children. As of May 17, every one of the top 10 best-selling toys on Amazon was a form of the handheld toy people can spin and do tricks with.
For a child or teen diagnosed with ADHD, their attention is commonly redirected from the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed. Children diagnosed with ADHD can have the following symptoms:
These symptoms manifest themselves continuously throughout the day and can sometimes manifest at the same time. Therefore, for the ADHD brain it is ideal to have options and therapies to help children direct this swirling energy into a creative outlet.
For students with ADHD, it can be ideal to have a tool to calm restlessness, focus attention and minimize outside distractions.
Although the jury is still out on the use of spinners with children diagnosed with ADHD, there are recent studies which point to compelling results. Some studies indicate that spinners can aid with the excessive movement associated with ADHD symptoms. Research points to this movement being linked to executive functioning of the brain. The study conclusions indicate that participants who were diagnosed with ADHD performed better with basic tasks when they engaged in movement or targeted activity while completing tasks.
When purposefully using a fidget tool, such as the fidget spinner, a student with ADHD can successfully direct their attention to two things, the fidget and the task at hand. The fact that Fidget Spinners have become mainstream has been tremendously helpful to children with ADHD because they no longer feel that they stand out among their peers.
However, it is important for parents and educators to recognize that fidget spinners require hand-eye coordination. Of course, when the eye is drawn to the spinner, the focus is not on the teacher or the classroom environment. This can be a challenge if not properly managed.
Therefore, we recommend the following tips on how to effectively use spinners:
Fidgets are not one size fits all. Therefore, be prepared to use an alternative to fidgets. For example, putty, stress balls, slinky and other therapeutic fidget items which do not serve as a visual distraction.
Establish guidelines for the use of spinners at home and in the classroom. We advise the teachers to set classroom guidelines for Fidget Spinner use. The Fidget Spinners should be used discreetly under the desk only.
Teachers can also give a quick learning overview that all brains learn differently and some require the use of a fidget to harness attention.
If they are misused, the student can have the option of putting it away or choosing a less obtrusive fidget, such as Thinking Putty.
Most importantly, the use of fidgets should be practiced.
While we typically recommend that students practice using fidgets at home, with this widespread use, it would be beneficial to practice using them in the classroom.
We recommend having the students practice using the fidgets while doing a mindless activity, such as watching a movie.
They should be able to develop muscle memory for manipulating the Fidget Spinner so they can use it without thinking about it–similar to tapping a pencil on a desk.
Remember the goal of fidget spinners is to help children diagnosed with ADHD build concentration and focus. Soon, they won’t pay attention to the cool things the spinner can do and they will simply be spinning it while they learn. If you have any further questions or would like additional tips for Fidget Spinner, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diagnosing and implementing a treatment plan for ADHD are the first and most important steps you will take with your child as they navigate ADHD. But once a treatment plan is implemented staying on track and measuring success is key to your child’s overall growth and development.
There are many more options available to parents today for ADHD treatment. Everything from medication to establishing routines, to yoga and meditation and beyond. However, if there is not a firm strategy and objectives, as well as an overall plan to integrate all of the treatment elements, then the efforts can far outweigh the results.
As with any investment, your child’s ADHD treatment plan is the most important investment you will make in your life and in the life of your child. Having a vision and setting objectives along with a timeline will help ensure that your child is getting the most out of their plan. Whether it is medication, behavioral modification, or a specialized educational curriculum.
A diagnosis of ADHD does not diminish or change your child’s uniqueness, humor, or playful nature. Therefore, setting the right objectives as part of a treatment plan is the most important first step in an ADHD plan. An ADHD treatment plan should consider your child’s personality, home life, school, extracurricular activities, social life and more. The plan should be comprehensive and holistic. In addition, your family’s activities, needs, and desires must be considered as all family members will have a role in the treatment plan.
What should the objectives be for your child’s treatment plan? Most importantly the treatment plan should be created with your child’s input. Your child is the expert on their own brain. For example, ask your child what do they wish could be easier. Below are sample objectives which are measurable and can be used for developing a treatment plan:
Relationships: Learn how to form and maintain productive relationships with family members, teachers, and friends.
Education: Learn to follow through with homework assignments and class assignments. Also, set goals and understand progress and next steps to achieve goals.
Communication: Develop effective methods of conversation that aid in building confidence and boosting self-esteem
Behavior: Learn to modify behavior as appropriate and exhibit positive behaviors and diminish undesired behaviors
Self Esteem: Develop a higher level of self-awareness which can lead to Awareness of oneself, including one’s traits, feelings, and behaviors
Executive Functioning: Develop the ability to immediately evaluate actions and be able to modify behavior accordingly.
Staying on track with the plan
It is important to regularly (monthly or quarterly) monitor your child’s progress against the objectives and milestones. Always check in with your child and ask how she thinks she is progressing on goals. This process teaches and strengthens self-monitoring skills and you will gain insight into how your child’s perspective matches up to those around her. Be sure that your plan objectives are realistic, measurable and observable in terms of behavior etc., and support your child in the achievement of the goals. Also adjust the plan and develop actionable steps as needed to help your child stay on track and progress towards his/her goals.
To do this, check in with your child’s teacher regularly and discuss your child’s existing plan or develop a plan. Report cards, homework assignments and parent-teacher conferences are also very helpful. In addition, regular conversations with your pediatrician regarding medication and any possible side effects is key too.
An ADHD Professional can help you develop outcomes and a customized plan for ADHD treatment to monitor and measure your child’s progress. ADHD treatment plans are developed from a long-term perspective and integrate everything from behavioral therapy, communication strategies, innovative approaches to therapy such as art, and medication. In addition, a coach can provide support for you, your child, and the family.
Visit our ADHD Resources page for a sample email that you can use when checking in with your child’s teacher about their progress on established goals. Also, join us on social media (see icons below) to get tips and other helpful information.
Stay on Track and Avoid Overuse and Misuse of Technology With These Tips
Regardless of if you are a Millennial or a Baby Boomer, technology is a prominent part of our everyday lives. Technology is now the primary way we communicate with friends, pass the time or schedule appointments. As parents, our children learn from us and pick up our habits. After all, can you go a day without a cell phone, laptop, or internet? Today’s youth are born into a connected world and their fascination with all things technology streams at a faster rate than ours. As parents learning how to quell or control our children’s appetite for technology is a constant battle and at times we can feel like we’re losing the war.
Throw ADHD into the mix and that battle can become one of epic proportions as you try to focus on consistency and regularity in schedules and routines. This focus does not leave much time for a growing fascination with technology. But it poses the question, can technology be an aid in helping manage symptoms of ADHD? And if so, what are the steps or how should technology be incorporated into a child’s treatment program?
Is it possible we can help our children learn to use technology to their benefit and turn challenges into strengths? For example, take John who is a 9th grader and was struggling to get his thoughts on paper. He explained that he had the ideas for what he wanted to write in his head but his hands couldn’t keep up with his train of thought. We came up with three possible solutions:
John could use a voice recorder app on his phone, such as Voice Recorder, and would talk about his ideas and then play them back so that he could type them into a document.
John could use Dragon Speak software and although there would be a learning curve in using it he could eventually “speak” his papers.
John could download software, such as Inspiration, on his computer that would help him organize his thoughts through graphic organizers, maps and visual tools.
Each of these options empowered John to find ways to reveal he had a strength in writing once the medium for being successful was found. John ended up starting out with a voice recorder while he learned how to use Dragon Speak software. John’s school provided the Dragon Speak software and had someone at the school help him use it. John’s confidence grew and writing was no longer as dreadful! What is the role of technology in the treatment of ADHD?
ADHD symptoms such as becoming easily distracted, impulsivity, difficulty following instructions, and inattentiveness are core symptoms that can lead to challenges in a child’s learning. Assistive Technology (AT) can help minimize or remedy issues with cultivating focus and helping students stay on track and engaged with work.
For example, many types of AT are already available and used in our daily lives. Using PDAs to set reminders and audio alerts can help students stay on track with tasks such as homework assignments, and create to do lists. Laptop computers provide resources such as audiobooks and reading software applications. These recorded books allow users to listen to text and follow along on the screen to learn words and more. Such resources are available on specialty websites, CDs and MP3 downloads. Speech recognition programs allow students to speak words into a microphone and see them appear on the computer screen.
As with anything structure and discipline are necessary to get the most out of it. To avoid your students, overusing or misusing technology, use the tips below to stay on track with your child’s use of technology:
Participate with your children in the use of technology to be sure that they are actively learning and not just focusing. Ask questions about what they are learning, or take breaks regularly.
Do not focus on technology, but use it in conjunction with other activities. Integrate traditional homework lessons and writing assignments.
Use alerts to help students stay on task and pace themselves while using AT.
Parents should be aware that it is their student’s right to have access to technology in their classroom. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the genesis of Assistive technology (AT). The IDEA Federal Statute: ensures free and appropriate education for children with disabilities, and specific disability categories are defined in this law. Section 504 A Broad Civil Rights law protects rights of individuals with disabilities, covering any institution that receive federal funds – to ensure persons with disabilities an opportunity to fully participate with peers. These acts were created to ensure that individuals regardless of a disability would be given equal access to education, employment, and other public venues. Also, students who qualify may have access to approved technology at no cost.
If your child’s ADHD symptoms are impacting his or her performance at school, they may qualify for assistance through one or both federally sponsored regulations mentioned earlier. Check with your child’s teacher. Below are additional resources to help you begin to properly use and integrate AT into your child’s learning plan.
Understanding the Building Blocks of a Successful Plan
Once a child receives a diagnosis of ADHD, parents face the monumental question — how can I help my child? Understanding the diagnosis of ADHD can be overwhelming, and deciding the best treatment plan for your child can leave parents feeling perplexed and alone. How will my child react to medication? Will I be able to handle the time and resources needed to help my child? What strategies or therapies should I consider for my child?
These are just a few of the questions that cross parent’s minds leaving them with more questions than answers. However, just as every child is unique, ADHD treatment today has broadened to include a variety of treatments that can adapt to the needs of a child and or family and be integrated into a larger plan for treatment. Knowing what to ask is just as important as knowing which treatment plan is best.
Whether you are the parent of a child newly diagnosed with ADHD, or a parent who is considering modifying your child’s treatment plan, the following tips will provide insight into the elements that go into a treatment plan for your child.
If you are considering medication for your child, speak with your child’s physician and gain a firm understanding of the expectations and more importantly, the side effects before deciding to place your child on prescribed medication. If your child has side effects, your doctor may need to adjust the dosage, or decide to try a different medication. Also, keep a daily journal to record any side effects or differences you see in your child when he’s taking medication. Medication alone is not a cure for ADHD but can be beneficial in conjunction with other treatments.
The best things in life are free. It has been clinically proven that spending time in nature can help lessen the symptoms of ADHD in children. Playing outside, doing outdoor activities for at least 30 minutes can have a noticeable impact for your child.
Physical activity increases dopamine, serotonin in the brain which are directly related to focus attention. Other activities such as yoga, gymnastics, dance are all proven to be beneficial as they require awareness and focus on the body’s movements. In fact, sports can be a healthy outlet for children diagnosed with ADHD. USA Olympic Gold Medalists Simone Biles and Michael Phelps have both been diagnosed with ADHD. Their stories are examples of how children can overcome the symptoms of ADHD to live successful lives.
One of the biggest struggles parents can face is getting their child into a routine. Whether it is doing homework, planning for the next day or going to bed — Children with ADHD, have a lot of energy swirling in their brains. And having the tools to help bring structure and regularity is key to helping your child to succeed.
For example, the following tips can help with getting your child to bed.
* Establish a routine at bed time such as putting toys away, reading a book before going to bed.
* Put all electronics away. TV, computer, iPad, etc. should be put away well before bedtime.
* Set a regular time for bedtime. And it is very important to keep this time seven days a week.
Also, it is important to note that if your child is on medication, a side effect can be difficulty getting to sleep. Consult your physician to help.
Snack foods that include nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products can make a difference
during or before homework time. Foods high in protein can have beneficial effects on children
with ADHD. These foods help produce neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn help parts of the brain communicate with each other. Protein can also prevent surges in blood sugar, which can increase hyperactivity.
Often the first step for parents is to engage an ADHD professional to help with an accurate diagnosis of ADHD. Professionals can continue to serve as a resource and support for parents.
ADHD professionals can help you sort everything out and provide a unique approach and expertise in helping blend a multi-faceted approach to treatment which addresses the behavioral, organizational, and executive functioning needs of those affected by ADHD.
ADHD professionals can include a coach to help with developing effective strategies ranging from impulse control to academic success, an Art Therapist or Counselor to address any social/emotional concerns, a neuropsychologist who can do extensive testing to determine what the exact challenges are, a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD medication, an educational advocate who can help make sure the right supports are in place at school, a nutritionist and a SIPT Certified OT if there are any suspicions that there could be issues with sensory integration and processing. The list doesn’t stop here some have found success through chiropractic work, biofeedback and much more.
Whether you are at the beginning of an ADHD diagnosis for your child or you are interested in modifying your child’s current treatment plan. Using the above tips as a starting point can help you begin on a path to successfully treating your child’s ADHD.
For more information visit our website for resources, helpful tips and information.
Parenting is a 24/7 job, and for parents of a child diagnosed with ADHD, your work and focus require much more. Planning and organizing must be part of your daily routine. Being able to measure your child’s progress is key to building future strategies to help him or her to achieve broader goals.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to re-assess current routines and look to new approaches. Therefore, planning becomes even more important for parents of children diagnosed with ADHD. For example, there are school activities, summer activities, and one of the most important – planning for the end of the school year.
Depending upon your child’s grade, the end of the school year could be marked by graduation from preschool, high school, or preparing for summer school. Being active and engaged with parent-teacher conferences will set the stage for and possibly change the trajectory for your child’s future. Understanding what worked and what didn’t will help you to make the appropriate adjustments to help you and your child going forward.
While your child’s school may have dedicated resources and programs for helping children with ADHD, Studies show and experts agree that the number one factor in a child’s success is parental involvement. Therefore, being an active partner with your child’s teacher is key to his or her current and future success.
How should you prepare for your child’s final parent-teacher conference of the school year? Below are helpful tips and guidance on how to get the most out of your conference time.
Come prepared with specific questions for the meeting. Parent-teacher conferences run on a very tight schedule, and you may not have time for a detailed, in-depth discussion with your child’s teacher. Therefore, prepare a list of questions before the conference. Add a note to your cell phone as a reminder to do so. Be sure to prioritize the list with the most important questions first. You can schedule a phone call, or send an email to follow-up as needed.
Listen for any key information that could be shared at your child’s session with his/her coach, pediatrician, and counselor. Such information could lead to an adjustment or change in your child’s medication. Therefore, follow-up with a visit to your child’s doctor to share this information. Once you’ve discussed your child’s progress and challenges with their teacher, don’t wait to set up a doctor’s appointment. Your doctor might be able to help you assess or reassess your child’s ADHD medications, and you might learn about new treatment options which support your child’s learning.
Be prepared to listen and learn. While you may have your ideas or thoughts about your child’s learning, remember your child’s teacher is there to provide specific and actionable feedback about your child’s progress and provide their expert opinion. Working with your child daily to do homework is just one aspect of your child’s learning. This is when partnering and sharing feedback is critical to your child’s success, as you both share mutual goals for your child’s success.
Agree to any goals for the remainder of the year, and establish benchmarks or milestones for achieving the goals. This is an ideal time for you, your child and teacher to openly discuss thoughts and openly discuss how to overcome any challenges. You can put the plan on paper and develop agreed upon milestones with your child.
Ask your child for feedback that he would like you to share with his/her teacher. Children who are shy or withdrawn may have a challenging time communicating with others. Such feedback can be eye-opening and lead to adjustments and new treatment plans.
Each of you will have your perspectives, questions, and thoughts, but sharing them in a constructive manner will go far towards developing the optimal plan for your child.
Like any parent, you are concerned about your child’s grades and progress. However, remember that you and the teacher are on the same team. The better you support each other, the more positive outcome for your child. Therefore, look at the conference as a time to learn, explore and possibly reassess your child’s current ADHD treatment plan and possibly routines.
The Navigating ADHD, Inc. Circles of Support Model includes all who are involved or need to be involved in a child or teen’s treatment plan. The support team might include but is not limited to educators, doctors, counselors, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, family members, and coaches. For more information, visit www.navigatingadhd.com.
Now is the time of year when our thoughts, time and energy turn to the excitement and anticipation of the holidays. From Black Friday to Cybermonday, and planning family getaways and gatherings — all can take the place of normal routines throughout the year.
Let’s face it, the holidays are a beehive of activity for everyone. It can be during these times that families and parents with children diagnosed with ADHD can feel overwhelmed or alone in dealing with the holiday festivities and planning for the holidays. Afterall, you worked hard all year to get your child into a routine with activities, homework and chores, and the holidays can present many distractions and challenges. This can be difficult and stressful for parents as getting a child into a regular routine can take months or even years. And the benefits of such a routine help you, your family and your child to effectively manage ADHD symptoms. So as a parent, how do you enjoy the sights, sounds and even smells of the holiday seasonwhile ensuring a positive and memorable time for all?
To prepare your child for the long drive, flight delays, and visiting relatives, use the following tips to help your child manage his/her social skills during the holiday:
Create a schedule – To prepare you, your family and child for a memorable season, firstly understand that you must allow for and be willing to build flexibility into your child’s routine. Build a schedule around your holiday plans. Within your schedule build in “free time” for your child to enjoy the holidays and have down time. Also, plan for any schedule changes. For example, highlight in on the calendar. That gives your child time to process and adjust to the change.
Difficulty taking turns in conversations – Help your child learn to engage in conversations with others and understand the importance of taking turns in conversations. If your child interrupts frequently, ask the question, “what do you think the person you’re talking to experiences when you’re interrupting?” Instead of stating that his interruptions are annoying, asking a question will help your child to see the other person’s perspective and increase his understanding of taking turns speaking during a conversation.
Avoid excessive talking or interrupting – Children with ADHD often express excitement and enthusiasm when telling stories or sharing their experiences. Being a great story teller is a great skill to have. However, in daily conversations with others it can present a challenge. Therefore, if you notice that you child is monopolizing the conversation, or telling a long, meandering story, give him a verbal cue to get him back on track. The goal is to trigger the awareness in your child that he needs to bring his story to a conclusion. You and your child can develop and discuss a discreet verbal or visual cue ahead of time, such as touching your ear.
Lack of Awareness of Extreme Behavior – Relatives that you only see once per year can be challenging houseguests for anyone. Your child may be asked to give up his bedroom for Aunt Agnes. If your child is experiencing holiday stresses and exhibiting extreme behavior, then help him to increase his awareness of being extreme.
Excerpt from Navigating ADHD, Your Guide to the Flip Side of ADHD: For example, to help him modify his behavior, you can start by describing all the positive extreme qualities he possesses. Is he extremely energetic? Is he extremely empathetic? Many children with ADHD have extreme love for their family. Emphasize how much you love these extreme qualities. After you have emphasized the positives, you can introduce one or two of the challenging extremes. For example, you could say, “You know how you’re extremely enthusiastic? Sometimes, that enthusiasm makes you extremely loud in class. How can we work on your voice volume so that just your enthusiasm shines through?” This conversation introduction begins with the positive, points out the challenge, and ends with the positive.
Use Calming Techniques – Airport delays and weather can be aggravating for everyone. To calm your child, teach him/her natural calming techniques such as deep breathing exercises, and help him/her understand why deep breathing works. Share with him/her that it brings more oxygen to the brain. Deep breathing slows the breath (inhalation and exhalation) and helps to bring focus and awareness to the moment. The body and brain get more oxygen which produces a natural calming effect and slows the brain waves and internal chatter. An ideal time is to set aside time and practice before bedtime to help your child practice and sleep more soundly. To do so, take long inhales and exhales and focus on both. Gradually slow the breathing and focus on the pause between breaths.
Therefore, when you sense that your child is becoming over stimulated or you are about to experience a stressful situation, lead your child in a deep breathing exercise.
Remember, despite the shopping, cooking and house guests, the holidays are shared times for memories and family time. Understanding that you have the tools and resources for you and your child to navigate the joys and stresses of these times can bring you peace of mind and help create memories that can be shared for a lifetime. Visit our recommended online store to purchase Navigating ADHD: Your Guide to the Flip Side of ADHD at a special discounted holiday rate.