It’s summer! For many children summer means no school and day after day of having nothing to do but have fun. But for children with ADHD day after day without any structure often means getting into trouble. As parents, you know your child has worked hard through the school year, even if it doesn’t show up on the report card, and you know he or she needs a break. But at the same time, your child probably does better with structure. He probably stays out of trouble when he has something to do and knows what is coming next. For you, the long summer ahead might signal endless days of bored, hyperactive kids.
The following are ideas to help keep your kids busy. Choose those activities that suit their interests. You might want to create an “idea jar” and write down the ideas that might keep your child’s interest. Place them all in a jar and every time you hear “I’m bored” pull an idea out of the jar.
Think about summer camp. If you decide this is a good idea, make sure the camp can handle ADHD kids and are willing to administer medications if your child takes them during the summer. Check out the list of Summer Camp Programs from CHADD. These camps are specialized for kids with ADHD and provide structure, fun and skill-building. For other possible camp suggestions, please visit the American Camp Association website. ADHD children do need to be busy so see what it offered in your city or town. Often there are recreational programs offered in the summer that will keep your child occupied for at least half of the day.
Summer may be bit easy for some families due to the lack of a strict schedule, but ADHD children thrive on schedules. They want to know what they are doing and when. So get together and set up a schedule. It does not have to be written in stone but it will give your child a sense of security knowing what the expectations are and what they will be doing.
Often, during the summer, parents decide to take their children off of their medication. Whether or not you do is a family decision to be made in conjunction with your doctor. If you do decide to take them off of meds then please adjust your expectations. They will be more impulsive, they will find it harder to focus, they will be more active, and they will be moodier. This might be a good time to set up new expectations, ones that will make sure your child has a successful summer.
This is a great time to plan some family time together. It is best to make sure that whatever you do there is some kind of physical activity involved. Head for the beach or the lake, take a family bicycle ride, go to the zoo, check out an interactive children’s museum. Whatever you decide, remember that your ADHD child needs to move. Find something that you and your child can do calmly together. Once you have tired them out a bit, try playing board games, do a puzzle, or build something out of Legos or blocks. Stay with you child and help them to increase their focus time. This is a great time to reconnect with your child, to just play and enjoy each other. Have a wonderful summer and have fun out there!
Scott Young, MS, CCC, LNC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing in 1992 and has been a nationally certified Christian Counselor since 2003. Having worked professionally in inpatient psychiatry for 16 years and with children and adults as a mobile therapist, Scott specializes in family counseling, children’s counseling, parenting concerns, individuals with special needs, developmental and learning disabilities, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, anger, social skills, self esteem, depression, and character building. Scott has seen the importance of looking at each person holistically and considers all areas of health when working with clients. Scott earned a doctorate in Naturopathy in 2014 and offers a comprehensive approach to overall health and well-being by integrating counseling, botanical and herbal medicine, naturopathic and holistic medicine, and lifestyle therapy. Scott is passionate about working with children and serving as an advocate for children with special needs.