Published on ADDitudeMag.com
No More Meltdowns! 6 ADHD-Friendly Calming Strategies
The afternoon is often the toughest time of day for hungry, tired kids — especially those who struggle with transitions. Here’s how parents can defuse meltdowns before they begin.
by Terry Matlen, ACSW
Why It's the Witching Hour (or Two)
parents know that it’s a roller-coaster ride from the time our ADHD kids get
home from school or camp until they go to bed. That shouldn’t be surprising.
Kids walk through the door mentally exhausted, physically edgy, and starving.
What’s more, their medication has usually worn off
, causing their ADHD symptoms
to return with a vengeance. Here, an expert offers her six best strategies for
surviving the afternoon angst.
Don’t over-schedule your child with afternoon activities. Kids with
attention deficit work at least twice as hard as their non-ADHD peers and need
about twice as much downtime
. Try setting up a space for your child to calm
down in when she gets overly stressed. Outfit the room with activities and
games she can quietly play with on her own – such as jigsaw puzzles, video
games, and books to read.
Save the Errands for Later
Since moodiness, irritability,
anger, and defiance are common in ADHD kids who are tired and hungry, don’t force
your child to accompany you on errands right when he gets home. Running errands
will only tire your child out more. If you have to go out, spending the
money to hire an ADHD-friendly babysitter
is a better option than dragging your
child along with you.
Take It Outside
Set aside time for physical activity. Not only does getting outdoors and moving around release tension and hyperactivity, it also increases neurotransmitters in the brain
, allowing your ADHD kid to sustain mental focus for longer periods of time. Suggest that your child rake the leaves, ride a
bike, go swimming, or take a walk in the park when she gets home in the afternoon.
Consider an Afternoon Dose of Meds
Talk with your child's doctor
about giving him an afternoon dose of ADHD medication.
Many children benefit from a second dose, which helps them focus and stay calm during the second half of the day. Remember, no child likes to feel out of control.
Pile On the Protein
Watch what your child snacks on in the afternoon. Foods rich in protein will help balance a child’s mood better than foods high in
simple carbohydrates. Sticking with complex carbohydrates will also help to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes. Consider an early dinner if your ADHDer just can’t wait for the
Hire a Tutor
During the school year, consider hiring a tutor
or a high school student
to help your child with homework. A non-family member is usually a better homework helper
than parents, who may quickly butt heads with their child.
Be realistic about your expectations and don’t compare your child with
his non-ADHD siblings. Remember that children with ADHD need positive reinforcement, even on tough days. Acknowledge the accomplishments he made that day, large and small.
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