Summer with ADHD

Summer is both good and bad for parents of kids with ADHD.  The looser schedule, lack of deadlines and homework for kids can reduce stress for everyone.  BUT losing any form of structure can take a toll on the family’s ability to function smoothly.  While school can mean pressure and stress, it also means structure and routine that can be very helpful for families of kids with ADHD.  If you need help since school is out, here are some tips for making summer happier and more manageable. Having a plan is more predictive of success than almost anything. It’s not possible for everyone to do everything on this list, but pick whichever ideas you find to be appealing, and put the rest to the side to revisit later if the need arises.

  1. Discuss daily expectations and put them on paper. Something like, “After you read for 20 minutes, do something helpful, and complete chores every morning you can have free time until lunch.”  These expectations vary widely based upon the age of the kid and his, their, or her capacity, and must be personalized to every child.
  2. Use tools like charts and to-do lists for each member of the family.  This might include a morning list and an evening list which includes different tasks for each person.  Be sure to present it positively with a family meeting where the kids can help make the lists and provide input to increase their investment and willingness to cooperate. 
  3. Create a schedule for the week on Sundays, including a planned outing each day that will occur after daily expectations are met. This does not have to cost money.  A bike ride with a picnic lunch, a walk to the park, nature hike, or a trip to the library count as much as going somewhere that costs money.
  4. Sign up for camps through your community rec. center or county park system.  Camp creates routine and structure for the day, but in a fun way.
  5. Take turns hosting the kids for some period of time with friends who “get ADHD” and can benefit from the break too.
  6. Be very clear with screen limits (less than 2 hours a day according to the American Academy of Pediatrics), which can be given freely or earned for completing less enjoyable tasks.
  7. Use neighborhood teens to help younger kids with summer bridge schoolwork.  It takes the struggle out of getting them to comply, especially if it’s followed by a desired activity.
  8. Have planned the night before and include kids in creating the meal plan.
  9. Use summer to request any educational testing your kids might need to allow kids to start the school year in the fall with the support they need to succeed in place. Schools are required to respond to the request with an initial meeting within 60 days of the written request.
  10. Give the kids plenty of praise and 10 minutes of planned undivided attention at some point during the day.  Some ideas include playing a quick game of their choice, read together, draw, talk over a snack, or do a puzzle. It should be planned with a reminder on your phone to ensure that it happens!

I am a licensed psychotherapist and certified coach and I can help you to develop and implement a plan that will make summer great for everyone.  I can also guide you through requesting testing for eligibility for school accommodations for the fall. Click “Request appointment” and choose a time that’s convenient for you.  I offer free 15-minute consultations, so you can get to know me, tell me about your situation and see how I might be able to help!