Summer break with ADHD kids is a much needed break for everyone! It is also a time of year that can have its challenges. Many parents feel summer is a time to let up on schedule, rules, and time allowed on electronics. It is good for these kids to relax and have some of the demands taken off of them. Unfortunately, complete lack of structure can end up causing more stress, and outbursts from your children.
ADHD children need external controls to help manage their symptoms. These controls or structures keep life more predictable and organized for them. This then gives them a sense of security and control when the rest of their world is out of control. All children benefit from structure, but ADHD children need it more. These external controls help set the ADHD child up for success. When a child achieves success at home they are more willing and able to take risks outside of the home.
PRACTICAL SUMMER BREAK TIPS
With a summer schedule its important to find a balance. We do not need to create the same rigid schedule that a school year may impose. It is important to relax but also find a schedule that works for your situation.
- DAILY PLAN: Have some predictability through the summer days. Keep a morning routine such as get dressed, comb hair, brush teeth. Have a few chores each day to be completed. Everyone reads after lunch for 1/2 hour. Plan for meals to be at regular times. In the summer I find it easy to prolong lunch being as I am not always hungry. When temperaments start to fluctuate I realize they have not eaten in awhile! Being proactive keeps the “hangry” emotions away!
- WEEKLY ROUTINE: Have certain activities on specific days of the week. Every Thursday may be the day you go swimming, Tuesdays are Taco Tuesdays, Wednesdays may be invite a friend over day. Organize it however it fits for your family.
- SCHEDULE REVIEW: Create a habit of reviewing the days events the night before or at breakfast. That way if there are any changes to the schedule they will have time to mentally prepare for the change, thus hopefully reducing meltdowns!
- PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: This is a must for ADHD kids! Physical activity increases focus and cognitive function. Sometimes it is hard to fit this in. Work it into their chores if there are days you can’tplan for much activity. Depending on the age they could have chores such as mowing the lawn, carrying the laundry baskets for you, vacuuming, washing windows or helping you with whatever your chores are that day. Younger kids often find it fun to help mom!
- BEDTIME: If you are anything like our family bedtimes go out the window a bit in the summer. In the reading I have been doing, everyone states how important it is to keep their summer bedtime similar to the school year. It is hard on kids to fluctuate too much. Now I know my teen may have some issues with this! So I have been thinking of a compromise. Monday-Thursday we may keep regular sleep and wake up times with Friday -Sunday being more flexible. That being said I am not one to let my teen stay up until the wee hours of the morning. I do believe that is hard on their minds and bodies.
- BOREDOM: Research shows that boredom is good! This gives them opportunity to be creative and come up with their own plan. I love when my kids say their bored! I usually respond with a “Can I help you with that?” They know that usually means they will be helping me out with something! That something may be fun or may not be. These are often the times I see my kids creativity come out the most.
FUN SUMMER TIPS
Don’t forget to have fun! Our kids may need some structure and routine but they also need to be kids. Here are some ideas to fit some fun into your schedule!
- SUMMER BUCKET LIST: At the beginning of summer, brainstorm and pick ones that would be feasible to do.
- STRENGTH PLANNING: Each of your kids has their unique strengths. Plan some activities around those things. For example, library trips for the reader, dinosaur park for your paleontologist, hikes for the nature lover.
- SET GOALS: Pick 1 or 2 must do goals. For example, go to 10 new playgrounds, try 5 new flavours of ice cream, ride your bike around a new area of town etc.
- SOMETHING NEW: Choose an activity that is new to all of you and give it a try!
- SOUS CHEF: Summer is a great time for kids to help in the kitchen. From shredding lettuce to letting your older kids plan a meal or 2.
A lot of these tips, whether practical or fun, build connection with your kids. This is a season to connect with your kids in a different way, and them with you. Within the scheduling and planning there can still be flexibility. Just beware of changing plans spur of the moment and how you handle that with your ADHD child. No matter the age! Goodness I still struggle with that!
As you head into summer break with ADHD kids I wish you all the best! Take this time to learn more about them and the things they love. I am realizing how quickly things change and learning to embrace each stage they go through. Laugh more, love more, and let things go that do not matter.
From my family to yours,
Family ADHD Coach Laureen