ADHD and the Holidays
Tips for getting your kids to lend a hand
Preparing for the holiday season can be stressful for anyone. It is a time full of seemingly endless tasks, and there never seems to be enough time to complete them. It can be even more frustrating trying to get your children to lend a hand during the holidays.
It is important to keep a few points in mind as you prepare for the holiday season. Mary Robertson, R.N., states that children with ADHD do not like unexpected changes in their environment. “From our own need to share our holiday excitement, we often over plan, over decorate, and simply ‘over do’ during the holidays. This can over stimulate a child with ADHD, leading to less than positive behavior,” says Robertson. She advises that the key to successfully managing the holidays is to provide as much routine as possible, as you navigate all the parties and family events.
When you need your children to pitch in, make your requests short and to the point. Do not give a series of commands. “Ask the child to repeat back to you your request. Do not simply ask them if they understand, because we know they’ll say, ‘YES’. Make sure they understand how much time they have to complete the task. Have them report back to you when the task is completed so that you can check to see that the job was done well, and so that you may give them a second task, if necessary,” explains Robertson.
According to Marc Atkins, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, one strategy is to “give everyone in the family responsibility for one or more activity.” He adds, “Depending on the age of the child, this may be an independent activity or a team effort.”
Peter Anderson, a clinical pharmacist, states that parents should avoid having children do boring activities or activities that require extreme organization. “Have them do a variety of activities. The specific activities depend on the interests and talents of the individual child. Many children with ADHD are quite creative and the holidays can be an excellent time for them to express their creativity and build their self esteem.”
Experts agree that providing encouragement and praise to your child is important to getting your child to help out. Dr. Atkins recommends rewards such as a favorite meal or trips to the park, once chores are completed.
1. Barkley, R. (2000). Taking charge of ADHD: The complete, authoritative guide for parents (Rev. ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.