Dear ADDitude

Dear ADDitude: How Do We Shut Down the “I’m So Bored!” Whining?

“Our 11 year old has become more defiant and independent lately. Now that summer is here, he expects to be entertained every day – and can be manipulative about getting his way. Any summertime tips?”

ADDitude Answers

I think it’s important to balance the freedom summer affords with the structure an individual with ADHD needs to feel comfortable and succeed.

Since he is seeking independence, give him more choices, even if they are measured. Instead of telling him what to do, give him choices. “Do you want to take a shower first or brush your teeth first?” “Do you want to go to the library first or the grocery store?” Craft your questions so “yes” or “no” are not answers.

Here are some more tips on structuring summer.

We recommend this article on defiance.

Posted by Penny
community moderator, author on ADHD parenting, mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

A Reader Answers

To start with, independence at the age of 10 or 11 is a good thing. There are some days I feel I still have a toddler in my house – I have to tell my son what he needs to do to get ready for every activity one step at a time, rather than a list like I do for my 8-year-old daughter.

As for the defiance, this time of year is difficult for many kids that thrive having a structured schedule. Schools are finished with testing, so homework has lessened and students have more free time. I find it helpful during these lax days of school to share with my son the schedule and expectations for the summer. That way, he can start to prepare himself for the changes. I try to keep summer activities at the same time everyday, to help create some structure during a very unstructured time.

As for his manipulative tendencies, have you tried 1-2-3 Magic? I don’t even have discussions with our son when he wants something. If I say “No” and he won’t take no for an answer, I start with giving him one warning. If he continues, I give him a second warning, and if he STILL doesn’t stop, I tell him “Three” and there is a consequence. The trick is when he takes no as the answer the first time without the manipulative behavior, you reward him with something little (but meaningful) to give positive reinforcement.

[Special ADDitude Collection: Summer Learning Ideas for Kids with ADHD]

The second part can be tricky, but it you use this program for one particular behavior you want to address rather than all negative behaviors, you’ll be more successful. You can add additional behaviors as you get the hang of it. I highly recommend reading the book. It was “magical” in our home, and I use it on my daughter as well. It makes our parenting styles with both children more “even” which they respect, and it doesn’t make either kid feel “different.”

Posted by JCCC2015

A Reader Answers

Here are some things that have helped my son.

We actually have homework to complete this summer, which is a struggle for my son. It seems to help him if I make a list of tasks on a white board so he knows the work isn’t endless and he can cross off tasks once he finishes.

We also purchased a summer pass to our local pool. We make daily visits to the pool so my son has time to play in the water, as well as practice his swimming strokes in the deep part of the pool. He actually swims better in the deep part – I think it’s because he’s more buoyant in the deeper water. For the time being, until he gets really strong, I’ll be staying with him. Anyway, this daily exercise routine helps him burn energy and makes him calmer when we move on to other activities.

Posted by SueH

[Free Download: Choosing the Perfect Camp for Your Child]

A Reader Answers

ROUTINES and STRUCTURE are extremely helpful for children with ADHD. If summer days are difficult for your child, then coming up with a summer routine is essential. Start by writing down the “must-do” steps the he needs to do each morning to prepare for the day. Eliminate things that aren’t truly necessary, so the list isn’t too long. Then put them in the order you think makes most sense.

Next, go over it with your child and make sure he understands it. Finally, post colorful notes in the appropriate places to serve as reminders for your child.

Don’t expect everything to turn around 100 percent overnight; have reasonable expectations. You might want to consider a reward system, too. Also, allow a reasonable amount of time for each step of any routine.

Posted by Rhonda Pawlan

A Reader Answers

If you can find a camp, I’d send him there. Camp is the best place for my seven-year-old with ADHD. Besides all the physical activity, which is so good for him, the social aspect and learning to function in a less structured environment is important too. I swear my son shows more growth over the summer than during an entire school year.

Posted by Sporty

A Reader Answers

I never put my kids into camp or any summer programs. I found my kids kept themselves occupied, and I made a special effort to spend time with them whenever I could. I took them swimming or to the movies or on picnics. I hated daycares and dayhomes – I don’t think any of them ever did any good for my kids so it was a blessing in disguise to be diagnosed with a physical disability. It allowed me to focus more on my kids. For someone who works, though, if you can find good day camps and summer programs, and if you can afford them, I say do it. The kids will have a blast and learn excellent social skills. Just don’t forget to do something special with them one day a week!

Posted by Eruzin

[“The Best Summer Is a Strategized Summer”]