Kids are jumping for joy because summertime is almost here. While your son or daughter is likely counting down to the last day of school now, it won’t be long before he or she is complaining of boredom later. If your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), this can be especially problematic without a plan of action in place.
Symptoms of ADHD like inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity often become heightened during the summer months in children who have been diagnosed with the condition. The combination of an increased amount of down time and a decreased amount of structure (compared to during the school year) can make parenting a child with ADHD even more stressful and demanding than normal.
To make the summer run as smoothly as possible, try incorporating time management and stress management strategies into your family’s summer schedule:
Time Management Strategies for Children
- Enroll in a summer camp or specialized program. Local families with children between ages 8-12 can register for Cincinnati Children’s 7-week summer treatment program*, which begins in the third week of June. Programs like this are available in many parts of the country for kids of all ages. Watch the testimonial video above to learn more about our program.
- Arrange for regular interactions with friends and peers. If your child is not enrolled in a camp or a program, make sure he or she has plenty of opportunities to socialize. Consider signing your child up for a summer sports team or club.
- Create daily or weekly plans. Write down a schedule for your child to follow during the summer months. Include patterns that would be part of his or her typical routine during the school year (i.e. set wake-up and bed times, set breakfast and lunch times, regular afternoon activities or chores). Build in periods of free time, but set limits on the amount.
- Encourage your child to explore new interests. Let your child choose an adventure for a day. Try visiting a new place like a museum or park, or picking out new materials to check out from the library. Build around the successes your child encounters in the activities listed above.
- Have a teenager? Challenge him or her to participate in volunteer opportunities or to apply for a part-time job.
Stress Management Strategies for Parents
- Give yourself “me time” and learn to relax! Listen to music, take an occasional bubble bath, or schedule a fun night out with friends. Couples should take turns caring for the children so that the other can enjoy obligation-free relaxation.
- Conversely, set aside time to be with your spouse or partner. It is important to plan regular “couple only” time. Your family’s foundation is built upon your relationship with your spouse, and just like a house, doing regular maintenance is better than waiting for problems to arise.
- Seek out social support from others. Whether you need a babysitter or just someone who will listen, your family members, neighbors, and friends can help. Through your children you can meet fellow parents in similar family situations who understand what you’re going through.
- Keep your emotions in check. Stress and frustration is often caused by inaccurate or unhelpful thoughts about others, oneself, and the world. Learn to identify these emotions and consciously replace them with more healthy thoughts.
- Find a healthy balance between family, work and play. Balance in all aspects of your life as a parent is critical to your ability to foster the emotional and behavioral development of your child. You can’t help your child become healthier unless you are healthy yourself.
Parenting a child with ADHD can be hard, stressful work no matter the season. If you continue to encounter challenges, consider seeking support. In addition to the resources available at Cincinnati Children’s, national organizations like CHADD (www.chadd.org) offer support groups and educational resources for parents of children with ADHD.
* This highly specialized, intensive therapeutic treatment program has a significant enrollment fee and is not the right fit for every patient. If you are interested in the program, please talk to your child’s provider to determine if it is right for your family.