It Is Going To Be a Great Summer- 6 Suggestions to Help Parents of Children with ADHD
Dr. Christine Powell is a parent of a child with ADHD, special educator, education researcher, and has ADHD herself. “I did not always think of ADHD as a superpower, however I have learned to harness my brains power…and my passion is showing others how to do the same.”
Meet Jack- a lovable, well-mannered 7th grader with energy to spare. Jack’s mom is filled with anxiety as the countdown to summer begins. You see, Jack has ADHD and has recently been having a lot more difficulty with attention and self-control. At school, that can look like inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and disorganization — all of which is managed by his teaches and special education IEP. With Jack on summer vacation from school, his parents need some strategies to help them all make it a great summer.
Here are a 6 suggestions for parents of children with ADHD to help make it a great summer:
1. Routines RULE!
Children with ADHD need routine. Reliable schedules for mornings, afternoons, and bedtime make a tremendous difference in setting expectations, building good habits, and improving ADHD-related behavior. A predictable schedule offers structure that helps kids feel safe and secure. Discuss the schedule with your child when making it and try including them in the decision-making process. This method has been shown to increase buy-in. Routines send a message that says, “This is how we do things,” and makes daily activities manageable, allowing your child to focus on one thing at a time.
2. Create A Calendar
To make structure truly effective, routines need to be seen and implemented. Creating a calendar and posting it in a well-traveled area has been a lifesaver (Ours is on the refrigerator door at kid height). I list summer camps, family responsibilities, chores, daily expectations, and visits from relatives. It is a dynamic document and I try to use pencil as plans do change!
3. Plan Your Day!
Once a routine (or something close to a daily schedule) has been established, I make it a point to go over the “Plan of the Day” with my kids over breakfast. It takes approximately 30 seconds to talk about activities on the calendar & touch base on what needs to be taken care of in terms of chores or packing a bag for a day out. We discuss what the day will look like in terms of getting out the door on time, camps, time away from the house, stopping by the store, and dinner. Plans make daily activities manageable, allowing kids to focus on one thing at a time with an idea of what comes next.
4. Allow Wiggle Room
We know that plans sometime need to change – unforeseen traffic, appointment cancellations, even weather delays may have an impact on our plans, so allowing some flexibility is a must. As a parent, you are constantly modeling behavior, and showing your child how to positively react to change is worth its weight in GOLD. This may look like taking a deep breath and coming up with options for a day outside that has been sidelined by the weather, or brainstorming ideas for options when a playdate cancels. As a parent, you are your child’s most important teacher and this skill goes a long way in helping your child be successful in school as well. In the classroom, students need to be able to flex their flexibility. Daily routines change in schools due to testing schedules, assemblies, and special events, so this is a skill that is honed over time.
5. Make Reflection a Habit
Research has shown that reflection increases learning. It supports growth mindset and encourages us to improve and learn from our mistakes. Children with ADHD are at times impulsive in their actions, so spending time thinking back on their day and linking behaviors to consequences (both positive and negative) can be a wonderful teaching moment. My suggestion is to make time for reflection each evening as part of your routine. Whether you can work it into your dinner conversation, or as part of a bedtime routine, here are a few sentence stems that may help the process:
*What did you accomplish today?
*What was the most important thing you learned today?
*What did you appreciate the most today?
*What do you need to learn more about?
*What emotions do you need to be aware of next time?
*What are you most interested in learning about next?
6. From Whirlwind to Winddown
If getting ready for bed is a whirlwind of chaos, consider winding down. The ADHD brain is like a motor that continues to run. What I have found helpful for myself and my children is to begin the ‘get ready’ and allow our brains to readjust. This includes dimming the lights in the house (great for relaxing), as well as turning off electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. We also schedule in 15-20 minutes of silent reading before lights out. As a teacher, I know the benefits that reading has on vocabulary, comprehension, and thinking (and I am not talking about TikTok captions). All in all, its about creating an environment that helps the brain disengage from rumination (playing thoughts over and over ).
Summer should be fun for everyone- Try one or all of these suggestions with the knowledge that with your guidance, your child can learn new habits to help manage there ADHD.
Questions? We Are Here to Help!
At LearningByConnecting, we’re happy to provide comprehensive treatment for ADHD for children. To learn more, please check out our website (in the link), call and schedule an appointment.