It’s summer!! Woo-hoo!
Said very few parents of ADHD kids, ever.
Parents of ADHD kiddos love their kids. But when summer comes, this small-ish child (or children!) looms large in their parents’ minds-and what goes through their heads are the tantrums, the meltdowns, the mess. And the dread.
I’m here to tell you – you can actually have a good summer with your ADHD child. Maybe even a great summer. Let’s talk about some strategies.
1 – Give your kid(s) ownership of their summer. You all are one team (maybe even give it a name!). You can work together to determine what your family would like to do this summer, and how to make some of those activities happen. You, as the adult, have veto power – but before you outright nix an idea, brainstorm ways to modify or limit the activity to make it acceptable to you. Nothing engages kids (and adults) more than planning an activity. And ADHD kiddos are so often told they are wrong, or bad – helping to plan an activity for the family will be so empowering! However, if after talking it through, you are still 100% opposed, do not be afraid to say, “I’m sorry, but we can’t do that.” You are in charge.
2 – Think out your boundaries, and share them with your kids. What do you need from this summer? Are you working? Then you need time to do that, at a time that you determine. Do you want your house to be straightened up each night? Would you like to work on a project? All of these activities require time, and might require alone time for you. You will need to unflinchingly tell your kids your boundaries, and let them know that these are non-negotiable. Period.
3 – Structure each day/week. ADHD kids do so much better with structure. Each day should have some basic parts – meal times, TV time, reading time, etc-and every week should also have a plan. The weekly plan can be looser than the daily plan – this week we will go swimming, go to the beach, and visit Grandma – and then you can slot activities in when it works with your schedule.
4 – Have a team huddle every morning – and include praise for your kids’ efforts. 10 minutes to set expectations for the day in the morning can prevent meltdowns later in the day. And recognizing when you see them being team players is so motivating!
5 – Guarantee quiet, solitary time for each kiddo every day. We all wish our kids would wake up each morning and be so thrilled to see their siblings that they’d never argue. Ha! Good one! In order to prevent meltdowns, consider letting your kids hang in their rooms, alone, not as punishment, but just as time by themselves.You can determine the time of day, based on when it seems they are getting on each other’s nerves, and amount of time. But just knowing there will be a breather from their sibs could carry your kids through some rough waters when they’re together.
6 – Assign chores to your kids – and consider paying them. Parents generally feel that kids can’t do chores. Quite bluntly, that;s incorrect. If your kids balk at chores, before you take away TV, etc,find out what’s causing that. It may be something as simple as not knowing how to perform the chore. Paying them a small amount is a great incentive – after all, we get paid for work, shouldn’t they?
Finally, although these strategies will help, be ready for some rough days. Some days during the summer will be awesome, and will provide some wonderful memories for all of you. But there will be difficult days, when you will yell, the kids will cry, and your house will look like the proverbial tornado hit it. Those are the days you pop in a movie, or let the kids play videogames in their pj’s for the rest of the day, while you retreat to Bravo TV and serve something delivered by Door Dash for dinner.
And that’s okay. Because you and your team will go on to play another day.