How to Support a Child with ADHD in the Summer
For some of you summer is here, and for others, it is fast approaching. With summer comes joy, freedom, and fun for the children, and additional responsibility, planning, and maybe even apprehension for the parents. What are the children going to do all summer? Will they maintain their academic skills? Will they just lie around and watch too much YouTube? Here are some tips for planning a fun AND fruitful summer:
- Keep structure and routines. The routines during the summer do not need to be the same or as structured as during the school year, but having some sort of routine helps provide predictability for your child. Predictable routines help children know what to expect and therefore what behavior is appropriate.
- Communicate Expectations. Once you have laid out the routine, create clear guidelines and expectations for your child. Provide a schedule of what chore needs to be done each day, how much time he can spend on Xbox, and what academic practice needs to be done each week.
- Consider camps or trips, but do not overschedule your child. Boredom may lead to an increase in trouble, so camps and trips, either locally or farther away, can help provide your child some stimulation. However, allow your child some time to relax and recharge before the next school year, too.
- Create a calendar of expectations and events. Children with ADHD have a difficult time looking too far in the future, so creating a visual schedule of events can help them understand what is happening each day and week of the summer.
- Maintain any behavior or reward system you had during the school year. If she was able to earn the privilege of 15 extra minutes of TV for doing her homework, now she may be able to earn that privilege after completing the expected chore. Behavior systems can help promote self-monitoring and self-regulatory skills in children with ADHD, for either academic or general life skills.
- Discuss medication with your doctor. While sometimes families consider reducing or eliminating ADHD medications during summer months, this is a decision that is best made in consultation with your child’s doctor.
Summer can present challenges for parents of children with ADHD, as lack of structure can lead to more impulsivity and dysregulation. The key is to not overschedule your child but to create set guidelines and routines and clearly communicate those with your child at the beginning of the summer. Once everyone knows what to expect, your summer can run smoothly from the get-go.
Blogger Stephanie Dunne, Ed.S., is the Center Director at Springer School and Center. Prior to coming to Springer, Stephanie practiced as a school psychologist in public and private schools for ten years. If you have questions, please contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.