The activity of the holiday season seems to bring out the hyperactivity in our own little angels. Check out this collection of tips to help you survive it.
Create structure - and stick to it
"The symptoms of ADHD don't take a holiday," says Patricia Quinn, M.D., a developmental pediatrician in the Washington, D.C. area and author of several best-selling books on ADHD. "The good news is that parents can help manage their child through this disruption to the daily routine, while also making it less stressful for them."
In a national survey released last month by the New York University Child Study Center, nearly all (98%) parents of children with ADHD who participated in the survey said that a structured routine is important for their child's emotional, behavioral, or social development. Yet, only 13% reported that they keep their child on a school routine all year. Furthermore, two-thirds (66%) of parents agreed that getting their ADHD child back into a normal routine after time away from school is a hassle.
"One of the most important things a parent can do during the holidays is to create structure and stick to the child's regular routine as much as possible," advises Dr. Quinn. This includes following regular medication and behavioral treatment plans. "Adherence to routine may make the back-to-school transition easier for both child and parent. Talk to your child's doctor before making any changes."
Results of the Child Study Center survey, called I.M.P.A.C.T. (Investigating the Mindset of Parents about ADHD & Children Today), also revealed that children with ADHD face serious social development issues that affect their relationships with family and friends. Seventy-two percent of parents surveyed reported that their ADHD-diagnosed child has trouble getting along with siblings or other family members. Less than half (48%) said their child easily adapts to new situations. "Family gatherings, shopping trips to the mall, vacations to new places and other situations out of the normal school-year routine create additional challenges for a child with ADHD," says Dr. Quinn.
The disruption to their child's normal daily schedule can also affect parents/caregivers. According to the New York University survey, one in three (35%) parents of children with ADHD said they play a major role in their child's daily routine. Overall, more than half reported being frustrated while helping their child through daily activities. "Parents of children with ADHD face more challenges than other parents in helping their child complete everyday tasks," says Dr. Quinn. "The holidays can bring about added stress, so parents need to be more patient and understanding of what their child is experiencing."