Holiday Stress Part 1!
The holidays bring us excitement, memories, and unfortunately– too often for families impacted by ADHD–stress and frustration.
With an understanding of why the holidays can wreak such havoc for a child with ADHD and a few simple strategies, you can learn not only to manage this busy time of year, but to enjoy the festive season.
It is critical to understand what is happening in the ADHD brain. This knowledge can bring about a new level of awareness into the “why” of your child’s behavior.
It is equally important that your child understands what is happening in their brain so they feel empowered and more in control.
- The ADHD brain loves all things exciting and holidays can be very stimulating. Remember the ADHD brain loves extremes and this is one of them!
- Beyond just the excitement in the air, there are schedule changes, special events, and even school becomes more exciting. This can exacerbate all symptoms of ADHD.
- The ADHD brain tends to fixate on things that are very stimulating, which can show through meltdowns, frustration, extra energy and excitement and sleep changes.
So now what? What are you supposed to do to help lessen the meltdowns at parties and the stress that comes along the season?
Keep a routine!
Keep a “Flow” to your days, weeks, and months during the holiday season.
- It is best to stick to a daily routine as best you can. Don’t throw your usual schedule out the window– your child needs it!
- Routine does not necessarily mean a strict schedule.
Routine refers to the “flow of the day” where expected events occur in a particular order. For example, bath always comes after dinner and after bath, it’s time to read a book. During this busy time of year you may find that certain parts of the routine need to be cut short or taken out completely–but if the rest of the routine is intact, those changes are much easier for the ADHD brain to manage.
- Time is the major disruption during holidays. Dinner may happen after a school concert or basketball practice may be cancelled. The key is to keep the flow consistent so your child can rely on the expectations of what is to come.
When changes to schedule are inevitable during the holiday season, prepare your child in advance.
- Prepare your child for changes with consistent reminders and visuals
We like to find consistency in how the changes are communicated, as well.
State the changes at the same time every day. Perhaps this is a review of the daily calendar at breakfast.
- As always, the ADHD brain thrives on repetition. Pair the verbal schedule changes with a visual. This can be anything from a highlighted calendar to a bright Post It note placed in his/her agenda.
- It is also helpful to come up with a cue word that will alert your child to a change that may be occurring to give their brains a moment to process that there will be a change and they are being prepared for it.
If you struggle with changes in routine yourself, purchase a large desktop calendar and write out all events and changes so you can easily see them. Not a paper person? Use your calendar on your phone and change the color of these events. Whatever you do, review it in advance! You can set a recurring alarm on your phone so you don’t forget to check it!
What holiday hacks have you found to be successful? We would love to know so drop a comment 🙂
If you feel like you need to get a bit more grounded in your child’s ADHD Treatment Plan grab our Free Four Step Guide Today!