Five Tips to Help Your Children Manage the Excitement of the Holidays Even if they Have ADHD

Santa's coming! And for some moms that means fun, fun, fun!

And for the rest of us, it can mean anxiety over how our children will behave. With the added excitement, loaded to-do lists, more sugar, and less structure Santa's arrival means overstimulation for our kids.

Taking a moment to think of what our kids need during the holidays will pay off. This is Step Three (The Five Needs) in my 6-Step Plan.

The Five Needs are; Survival, Freedom, Love & Belonging, Power, and Fun.

two boys on bed pillow fight

Clearly state expectations.

I strongly recommend calling a family meeting. This is Step 5, Family Meetings, in my 6-Step Plan. You've gotta make it fun by popping popcorn and having a movie night right after.

Review household rules and how they apply to others' homes, and the behavior you expect to see when out and about at stores, in malls, at others' homes.

While I don't recommend threatening your children with a specific consequence, I do recommend you let them know they will be held accountable for their behavior. You'll figure out what that looks like when you're calm and have had a chance to discuss with your spouse/parenting partner.

Look for a "calm room" wherever you go.

At the mall, this might look like couches where people sit and charge their phones (and bodies). At a friend's house, you might ask if there's a side room you can go to with your child if he needs to calm down or regroup.

Driving around this might look like a well-lit, crowded parking lot where you can pull in and chill. Knowing where you can go if your child is overstimulated (or just misbehaving) is a life-saver!

Addressing misbehavior in private can aid in a faster recovery as there's no added embarrassment. It's key to exit without a fuss, that's why knowing where you can go is important; you can just take your child by the hand and say, "Oh, I need you in here for a minute."

When things are better, simply join the fun again.

Bring entertainment!

Okay, I don't like using technology for this all the time. If that's all you've got, so be it. But take a minute and see if you can come up with something a little more creative.

After running errands with parents for days on end, kids need some FUN (yeah, another need from Step Three).

Coloring books (they have them for all ages now), a book on tape (I love Audible for this), a puzzle (Rubic's cube anyone?), or word search.

Caution: do not dangle these options like a carrot on a stick. You don't even have to mention you have brought anything for the child (they might not need it). You aren't rewarding or bribing here, just planning ahead when the line for Santa is so.very.long. Simply pull out the item (make it sound appealing)

"Hmm. I might have something in my bag you'll be interested in. Let me see...what do I have? OH! YES! Look!" Some kids might need less entertaining and more comforting. Is there a blanket or toy or car or book that always calms your child? Bring it but we don't want to lose the thing that works at home!

Bring food.

This is a big #duh for moms, I know.

I want to mention it because we are so busy this time of year and it's easy to forget.

And no, I don't think grabbing something on the way is a good idea. It takes too long! Ugh, lines everywhere!

Grab a baggie of carrots, sliced apples, jerky, raisins, or another healthy snack that will boost your child's mood without providing highly processed food with a bunch of added sugar.

Remember to grab something for yourself. Moms have needs, too! Do you know how many calories are in your favorite Starbucks? There are better options (and plus, #lines).

Give your kid a job.

YES! I saved this one for last because I think it's the best one.

This is Step Four, Shared Responsibilities, of my 6-Step Plan.

When a child has a responsibility, it takes focus, planning, and energy to get it done. Wouldn't it be great for your kid to be focused on helping you rather than whining because you're not helping him?

It also meets the need of having power and freedom. When children have responsibilities, they build self-confidence because they know they have the ability to respond to that situation (setting the table, etc.). When children grow in confidence, they mature. And mature children mainly behave pretty well.

Some jobs may be; cart finder, car finder, list-maker, list holder (have a back-up), bag counter, people-in-line counter, list-checker-off-er, hand-holder, hat-counter, etc.

The older the child, the bigger the job. Take all jobs seriously and remark about the job your child did after!


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