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Holiday Season: The 10 Do’s and Don’ts for children with ADHD /ADD/ Dyslexia

1.Pick and choose holiday events

You don’t have to accept every invitation you get. If your child gets overexcited, just go to the most important events. The family gathering at the Grandma’s house might be a must, but your child can skip the party at the neighbour’s house. It will also be a good idea to ask your child which event he /or she may want to attend with you so that mentally they are ready to attend the event which will help them to overcome sudden anxiety.

2.Give your child a heads-up

Children with ADHD can get overwhelmed by changes to routine or new situations. Talking through what to expect can help. Explain timeline (“We’ll be there for about an hour”) and outfits (“You don’t need to dress up but please don’t wear gym clothes"). Be clear about your expectations too (“Please no headphones once we get out of the car”).

3.Explain the “house rules” of wherever you go

Maybe it’s OK for your child to roughhouse in your own house, but the family hosting a holiday party might not want the cushions pulled off their lounges. Learn the house rules of wherever you are headed and prepare your child.

4.Check in with your child at events

Before you go to an event together, agree on a hand signal (like touching your ear lobe). Your child can use it show you if things aren’t going well.

If your child has difficulty in managing a hand signal, try something else. That could be a light pat on the shoulder and asking,” Are you OK?”.

Before fixing any such cues, discuss in detail with your child about how, when and what are the reasons behind using these signs and how can it benefit him or her in the event.

5.Find an escape space

While in the party venue, fix a spot where your child has permission to retreat to whenever the child feels angsty. That could be a quiet chair or a small room. This will help him or her to come over overwhelming moments.

6. Keep entertainment handy

Some children with ADHD get bored easily. Pack games /activities / sensory stimulators like a stress ball, clay dough etc to keep your child busy.

7. Give your child a job

Children with ADHD often do better at events when they have a job. Ask what your child wants to do to contribute. You could “assign” your child to take pictures of the family with your phone. Or to entertain younger cousins. (Just make sure your child knows it’s OK to peel away and spend some time alone if the need be).

8. Shop wisely or online

Lots of children with ADHD have trouble with self-control. A trip to the mall at this time will be overwhelming experience for the child with loads of sensory stimulation around him /her in the shopping place.

Hence, it will be a good idea to shop online or to keep him/her back at home during your shopping spree.

9. Give small, immediate rewards

In the weeks up to the holidays, it is tempting to use presents as a bargaining chip. Try to avoid saying things like “Be good or Santa will find out!”. It may be helpful to offer your child small short-term reward. For example, you can say, “If we can work together to clean up this morning, we’ll watch a show this afternoon”.

10. Praise good behaviour

When your child is behaving well during a holiday event, show that you notice. Lean over and whisper, “You’re doing great at listening to other people without interrupting. I’m proud of you”. Recognition and praise mean a lot to children who learn and think differently.

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