Navigating the Holidays with a Child with ADHD, ADD, or another “D” Disorder.
Well, we are here. The hustle and bustle of Christmas or Hanukkah are upon us. Christmas lights, the Menora lighting, Christmas trees, parades, carriage rides, baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping are all in full swing. It can be a difficult time for children with ADHD, ADD, OCD, ODD, SPD, ASD and a hard time for the parents and the siblings. Meltdowns happen easier and nerves become unglued just a tad bit faster. The excitement of Santa and his reindeers, family gatherings, trips to Grandma’s house and wondering what will be under that tree proves to be just a bit overwhelming. Schedules and routines are a must for families whose children have a “D” disorder. The holidays certainly can put a wrench in the gears, but with a little bit of planning, that doesn’t have to happen.
Here’s a few strategies you might want to put in place so everyone can have a calmer, more enjoyable holiday season.
Plan, plan, plan - Using a large calendar start preparing your kids for the many events coming up by writing them down on a calendar. Choir concerts, tree lighting ceremonies, school parties, friend’s holiday parties, light shows, baking, etc. Get it down so everyone can see what’s happening. The one thing that can set a child off is surprises. They think they will have the night to play and relax at home, but you have made other plans for the family and forgot to let them know. Kids with ADHD struggle with change and it’s very important to tell them what’s happening well before it happens and keep reminding them that it’s coming.
Many children just can’t calm down enough with so much going on, so be sure to bring along things that are familiar which brings comfort in unfamiliar surroundings.
Kids and adults have a tendency to talk too much when they are nervous, so try some calming essential oils in a diffuser and topically to reduce tension for all.
Try some other calming techniques as well. Count to 5 while inhaling and having your hands on your belly to feel it expand and then exhale slowly to a count of 5 too.
The Wilbarger Brushing program and joint compressions calmed my child when he was extremely wound up and nothing else would work.
Try to keep to a routine for your home therapy activities, such as play dough, sensory bin, rocking, swinging, etc.
Realize that when some family member who have not seen your child for a while might comment on their behavior and it’s best to try and deflect any conversations until the child is asleep.
Invest in some new games, puzzles, activities to keep your child intrigued for a bit.
Include your family members into your child’s calming therapies, i.e. brushing, swinging, rocking so they get a feeling for what it’s like.
Praise your child when he/she listens to your instructions. We all love praise, so give it away frequently.
Wherever you will be prepare you child ahead of time. Kids with “D” disorders really need that time to process that change is coming. A great tool I have found is The Time Timer which is a visual timer and it helps kids realize that change is coming.
Try to remember that the holidays only come once a year and use this time to celebrate and try your best to go with the flow. If we are anxious, then our kids will be too.
Blessing on a beautiful Holiday Season 2017.