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How to Summer with ADHD Stress-free


No more school, no more books! You and your child might be looking at the coming summer vacation as a break from the structure and routine of the school year, but are you ready for summer activities and family outings?

Medication Holiday?

You, like many parents, may be considering a medication holiday for your child. Some prescribers still suggest children stop taking medication for their ADHD symptoms during school breaks, especially if the child takes a stimulant medication. Medication holidays are often not medically necessary and ADHD symptoms return during this time, but the break can have benefits for some children.

Possible benefits:

  • Time for a growth spurt unaffected by medication or appetite suppression

  • Parents and prescribers can evaluate a child’s symptom level and make changes to medication prescriptions if needed

  • Relief from side-effects, including the most common which are tummy and head aches

Possible drawback:

  • Symptoms put strains on family relationships
  • Symptoms can disrupt summer activities
  • Social skills challenges can affect friendships

Difficulties with sustaining attention during family outings, sports events and outdoor activities

You should discuss any changes to your child’s medication routine or a medication holiday with your child’s health care provider before making changes to your child’s medication routine.

Summer Schedule

As the school year winds down, talk with your child about possible summer activities and create a general weekly plan for your child. Clearly mark on the family calendar what is planned for that day. You might want to establish certain days each week for activities. That could mean Arts & crafts on Monday, Swim Lessons on Wednesday and Library Visit on Friday.

Having a daily schedule, also, can help. Just like during the school year, plan a time in the morning for waking up, having breakfast and starting the first activity of the day. Keep a copy of the daily schedule where your children can see it. For younger children, using a schedule with pictures for each activity can help them stay on track.

But it is summer, so choose a few things you are comfortable letting slide; perhaps beds don’t need to be made in the morning and snack time can be earlier in the afternoon or bedtime later in the evening. Set up a pattern to your day that works best for your family’s needs.

“I’m bored!”

What parent, standing in the middle of a toy-strewn playroom or backyard, hasn’t heard this cry? Head the complaint off by creating a list of activities your kids can choose from -- or a list of chores around the house you can give them – when they are looking for activities. You might also keep a stack of board games or a basket of crafts your children can work on.

Sometimes, though, being bored can be a good thing. Letting your children have some time that they can find ways to fill on their own helps them to develop independence and social skills they need as they grow-up. Not every moment needs to be filled by you (though you may want to establish basic rules for some of their more creative endeavors).

Getting ready for the new school year

Check with your children’s school for the topics or skills that will be taught next year and use this time to introduce new concepts for your children to practice or learn. Upcoming history topics could be searched for in the library and math skills can be practiced at the grocery store.

Middle school and high school students can take this as an opportunity to practice concepts they struggle with in different settings. Especially with online video instruction available, they can pick one or two new concepts to start learning now to make the next semester a little easier.

Family Time

Look for a day each week that you can set aside to spend time together as a family. Plan short, local adventures that take your children’s ADHD symptoms into account. Picnics, local history or walks in the park are good ways to spend times together. Low-impact activities, such as reading to each other or making crafts together give you an opportunity to just share time as a family.


This article appeared in ADHD Weekly on May 26, 2016.
     


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