“The Ultimate Holiday Present? Your Presence.”
And more advice for giving and receiving thoughtful gifts that bring out the best in your family members with ADHD this holiday season.
Giant inflatable Santas and Black Friday previews are the harbingers of yet another holiday season ripe with targeted marketing designed to hook your child — and you as well.
How can the parent of a child with ADHD compete with the colorful, shiny catalogs, store displays, and cartoon interruptions? Here are some ideas for navigating the holiday drama and ultimately spending more time and less money together.
- Include your children in the preparations. The magic of the holiday season is multiplied — not diminished — when the kids help out. Plus, engaging in multi-step preparations improves executive function, especially if you discuss your ideas with your children and invite their input.
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- Limit the number of gifts you give. More (in general) is confusing for children, and more gifts is practically a recipe for eventual disappointment. When the initial thrill fades, they will seek more dopamine (the ADHD brain wants what it wants) and some kids aren’t able to handle endings. Further, with fewer gifts, there’s less junk to clutter up their rooms! And lastly, lots of kids unintentionally and inadvertently confuse gifts with love. That’s not a great way to head into adulthood.
- Set a family gift budget and stick to it, even if it’s hard. This teaches children about limits and about respecting boundaries. It also teaches about mutual trust. If a boundary is broken to purchase a cool present outside of budget confines, that subtly teaches the child a person’s word cannot be trusted.
- Help your child earn money to buy gifts for others. Household chores like making the bed, clearing the table, or putting away toys are tasks that do not require payment. They are part of living in the family house. (Make sure you’re doing them also!) Mowing the lawn, washing the car, painting a room – these are examples of chores that merit some pay (less than minimum wage is plenty).
- Split the cost of a big-ticket item. If your tween or teen wants something big, create opportunities for him to earn extra money. Or let your child create a job opportunity for himself and earn money that way. Examples: tutoring, music lessons, mowing lawns, washing cars, babysitting, or dog-walking. (Keep this in mind: If the desired item may lead to conflict – like an Xbox or a cell phone – don’t offer this opportunity. Often teens believe that, if they bought the item, they should have free rein over its use, which leads to problems).
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- Yes, your children should give gifts to family members. Gift-giving is a part of our culture and shows that we appreciate and are grateful for the people in our lives. The gifts don’t need to be big and they can be hand-made. After all, it is the thought that counts. Plus, homemade gifts teach creativity and ingenuity.
- Make gratitude central to your holidays. This includes not only saying, “Thank you,” but also regularly donating time and/or money to a charity or non-profit. In particular, giving time has a huge impact on kids. Of course, choose carefully so as not to create an emotional overload in your children.
Giving and receiving gifts can teach kids about generosity, gratitude, appreciation, selflessness, saving, budgeting, and investing money. And the best lessons, as with most things in life, often come directly from the example their parents set.