The holidays often mean fancy outfits with scratchy tags and stiff shoes, long family sit down dinners and stressful exhausting social schedules…a recipe for ADHD related disasters. While we long to have gratitude and good tidings in our hearts, during this time of year, many parents and children living with ADHD feel extra frustration with the impulsivity, inattention, restlessness and emotionality and other ADHD symptoms that often get in the way of holiday cheer.

To help you not turn into a Scrooge this season, here are five tips that can help you and your child be more in control of their behavior and still maintain their natural curiosity and enthusiasm.

  • Be clear with the “rules” in advance. Take a little extra time to calmly remind your child what is expected of them. Many ADHD children are not auditory learners and literally will not hear you tell them something from across the room. Make sure you have your child’s attention by gently touching them on the shoulder and looking directly in their eyes. Tell them your request and have them repeat the expectation to be sure they have “heard” you. Keep your request brief and succinct.
  • Answering the “Why?” Like most kids their age, children with ADHD want to know why they must follow the rules. They often comprehend things concretely and truly benefit from a simple statement as to “why” they must behave. For instance, if the rule is “not to jump on furniture,” follow this request by telling your child “because it is not safe. You could fall and get hurt.”
  • Consequences. It is important a child understands what will happen if they do misbehave. By establishing this beforehand, disciplining becomes more matter of fact. If your child is around seven years old or older, they can become involved in this discussion. Remember, consequences for misbehavior should “make sense” or follow logically the specific misbehavior. For instance, if the rule is that they cannot hit another child because it hurts them, the consequence for this misbehavior may be to remove them from the situation. In other words, by not being able to act appropriately in a social situation, they will need to be removed until they can.
  • Develop a “Signal.” Develop a signal between you and your child that will serve to remind them if they are starting to misbehave. By engaging your child in coming up with the “signal,” they will be more likely to respond. Some examples may include winking at them, putting your finger to your lips or using a downward motion with your hand. The more involved your child is in coming up with the “signal,” the more they will respond when it is given.
  • Consistency. ADHD children are inconsistent by nature. As parents we need to model consistency for them so that they learn that rules make sense. To reinforce this, it is important that we enforce and follow our rules consistently. Never engage or negotiate after the rules have been established. Simply remind the child what the rule is, “why” it is important and follow through with the discipline.

Here is to your parenting success and a wonderful holiday season!

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