Is there anything better than relief from the hum drum school routine? You figure, let it be. Let’s enjoy the summer. Being carefree is what we all need. Uh oh. But if the carefree lazy days of summer have no structure your ADHDer is likely to spiral downward and take the rest of the family along! You can build structure into your summer and still be carefree.
Geez, “structure” sounds so rigid and formal.
Ahhh, I see what the problem is. Structure is often confused with routine. According to Mr. Webster routine is: of a commonplace or repetitious character : ORDINARY
Ordinary. Yeah, right. And it gets worse.
Routine definition 2: habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure
How boring and soulless is that?! Guess who routine really does NOT work for? You guessed it. Those living with ADD/ADHD.
Structure is a totally different animal. It is something you build. Kids with ADHD love to build things. Get your kids involved with building the structure in your home. Start with a schedule. Add some consistent rules, expectations and consequences. Enforce them in a positive way. Help your kids understand them.
Why structure is so important, especially for Kids with ADHD
Kids with ADHD struggle with self-control – be it to stop behaviors or to keep their focus. When children are easily distracted the structure you give can bring about a sense of order in a chaotic world. Kids with ADHD need more structure to help them manage the symptoms related to self-control.
Tips for creating structure!
1. Make a summer schedule.
Fill in the easiest blocks of time first. Family meals and bedtime are great anchor points in your schedule. Obviously, the schedule will vary tremendously for each child. The idea is to create some structure by having and adhering to a schedule. Expand the schedule from there, filling in other activities for the day.
Plan down-time into your schedule. Kids these days have no idea what do with themselves because we “schedule” everything for them. See what your kid does with a free hour. You might want have a no electronics/tv rule during this hour. You’ll be surprised what your kid finds to do.
Before bed talk to your kids about what’s on the schedule for tomorrow. Knowing what to expect is huge for kids with ADHD.
2. Be Consistent but not Rigid.
Consistent rules, expectations, and most important, consistent behavior on your part build your child’s sense of safety. She needs to trust that black won’t become white between today and tomorrow. If you say one thing and do another, she’ll lose her sense of security. This doesn’t mean you should be rigid. There is something to be said for flexibility in responding to new situations. But before a child can trust herself, she needs to feel secure in the world around her. Your consistency will foster that trust.
3. Be Predictable. Not Boring.
Since much of life is unpredictable, clear boundaries, rules, and rituals are comforting. They give your child something to count on. Something that’s dependable. This makes him feel safe. The more predictable you become, the more your child will be able to respond appropriately to the world around him. If you’re child is afraid to come to you because he’s not sure how you’ll react, he may not come to you at all. He may lie to try to control your reaction.
Think about that person in your life who is unpredictable. I mean someone other than your adorable child with ADHD. You never know how they will respond. Do you steer clear of that person in certain situations? You do? That’s natural. The unknown or unpredictable is scary. Now imagine your child with ADHD dealing with unpredictability. There it is, the overwhelm and anxiety. That doesn’t sound like a fun summer.
4. Stay organized.
Yay summer is here. No more backpacks, lunch boxes, gym clothes, papers or books. But you still got stuff. Like, towels, swimsuits, baseball gear, clothes, piles of flip-flops and more. All these things should have a home. Work with your kids on finding the best place for them to put their stuff. The next time someone is looking for something you will all know where to find it. If an item isn’t in it’s designated home, ask why it didn’t make it there and if there is a better place for it. Organized stuff can keep that ADHD brain from getting overwhelmed and panicked when in a time crunch.
A structured, consistent, predictable environment gives kids with ADHD a sense of confidence and security. They know that there is a great deal of disarray around them. But at the very least, their home is a haven. And remember, they won’t always agree with your actions, but at least they will know what your actions will be.
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