The most joyful time of the year can also be the most stressful time of the year for children with ADHD and behavioral issues. Engaging in unfamiliar social settings, such as at holiday parties with friends and distant relatives, can be a triggering time for children. Be aware of this potential struggle and follow these six tips to help your child have as much fun as possible during this busy season:
1. Practice hellos and goodbyes – Rehearsing this behavior and eye contact will help your child smoothly handle arriving and leaving a holiday party. Tell your child that he doesn’t have to say a lot. A simple, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you!” will work for an introduction and a “Thank you!” will work on his way out of the door.
2. Role-play receiving gifts – Practice with your child what to do if he gets a gift he doesn’t like, a gift he already has, and a gift he loves. Act out these scenarios and give your child tips on how to be appreciative of any gift he gets.
3. Script conversation starters – Before going off to mingle with the other parents, make sure your child is settled in with a group of children. Remind him of ways to start conversations with them. Questions such as, “Do you play sports?” and “What’s your favorite movie?” are fool-proof ways for your child to jump right into the group.
4. Plan a schedule with your child – Your child knowing exactly what events are coming up is a useful way to manage anxiety. Use a calendar to countdown days until the next big party and to help him get excited for it. Also, make sure you don’t overschedule events for your child so that he has enough rest time amidst all of the festivities.
5. Practice breathing exercises – To calm your child down in a stressful situation, give him tips to take deep breaths and clear his mind and frustration. Rehearse the “stop, relax, think” technique with im, and encourage him to use this trick when he’s frustrated in a social setting.
6. Applaud successful behavior – Encourage your child by pointing out what he did well at a party! This will only lead to more successful behavior.
By practicing these tips, you can help your child have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season. And, give Santa Claus a reason to bring them more gifts for their good behavior! Contact Focus-MD if you’d like to talk to your child’s doctor about his behavior during the holidays. From all of us at Focus-MD, we wish you happy holidays and a joyful new year!