Most parents with ADHD children experience challenges during the summer. Summer is a time for fun, relaxation, and vacations. For most people going on vacation is a nice time to get away from your regular humdrum daily routine.
How To Get Structure For ADHD Children
For people with ADHD, going on vacation can be a stressful and overwhelming event. Vacations involve planning, organizing, and attention to detail to say the least. These are skills that people with ADHD often struggle with because they often have difficulties dealing with activities involving high levels of executive functioning.
What are the skills needed to have a peaceful summertime?
Start planning ahead and with the end in mind (having a stress free, fun summer):
- Vacation: several months out you might plan on booking the airplane tickets, hotel, and rental car.
- Keep all correspondence in one place. Whether you prefer taking notes on paper or writing things down on your phone, it is important to keep things such as hotel reservations, tickets, and anything else related to your vacation in one place that you can reference.
- Several weeks out start making sure each family member finds their luggage and have each person make a list of what to bring.
- Several days before you may hold each family member accountable for packing and have him or her use the list they created for reference
- Planner: Write out all the things you need to do and a time line in which to accomplish these goals
- When you break down the planning into smaller tasks and give yourself a deadline for each task, the process becomes easier to manage and less stressful.
- Dry erase board: In order to help with organization, you could try writing out a giant to do list on the dry erase board and placing it in the kitchen for the family to see. Everyone in the family is aware of what should be done.
One thing that school and work provide is daily structure. Without structure it’s easy to become distracted and forgetful, which can lead to stress and anxiety.
While this can be an exciting time to bond as a family, it can also be stressful if one or more family members have ADHD.
Creating routines, structure and summer schedule
A creative way to plan out the summer for children with ADD/ADHD and increase family bonding is to start with a summer schedule. This brings routine and structure to the family and also keeps everyone active.
- Create a weekly game nights and movie nights
- Plan themed family dinners (e.g., Taco Tuesdays)
- ADHD Summer Camps
There are also great summer camps for families with children who have ADHD.
ADHD Summer camps are a great way to provide daily structure, enhance social skills, and focus their attention on different physical activities.
In the end, summer is a time for fun in the sun! Planning ahead and staying organized can help to minimize stress. By using some of these simple strategies for ADDH/ADHD, you can adjust to the changing summer schedule in a positive and healthy way!
By: Alyssa Lee, MRC, CRC, LPC Intern
Supervised by: Dulce Torres, MA, LPC-S
How do all of the pieces work together
I have been trained to stop behaviors using rewards and consequences. It took a long time for me to understand that parenting from a misbehavior perspective is not getting anyone to change their behavior. Let’s take a look to see if the source of the challenge is their Executive Functions.
When Their Behavior Is Not Working
When a person isn’t changing or adjusting to the situation, this is described as having a maladaptive behavior. When parenting a child with Executive Functions challenges, shifting our thinking to a maladaptive view will give us a better understanding of their challenges. From there, set realistic goals and get true outcomes.
Let me clarify from the get go that using rewards and consequences do work with some people. If it works for you – don’t change it (“if is not broken why fix it”).
Children and adolescents with behavioral challenges know what we want from them. They know we want them to act in a manner where they are accepted by others. As a parent, I want them to not get in trouble. However, they lack important “thinking skills”.
What Are Executive Functions
Dr. Ross Greene of Lives in the Balance tells us that “Thinking Skills” are:
- regulating one’s emotions
- considering the outcomes of one’s actions before one acts
- understanding how one’s behaviors affect others
- communicating to others what’s the matter
- being flexible
When your techniques are working with your kids, no need to change. However, when what you or the school is doing is not working, it is time to do something different. Children and adolescents need the “thinking skills” to handle life challenges. To learn how to problem-solve.
Individuals with ADHD have challenges with Executive Functions.
Executive Functions is the name given to a set of “thinking skills” that facilitate critical thinking and self-regulation. Executive Functions are controlled by an area of the brain called the frontal lobe.
Executive Functions Challenges
Children and adolescents with “thinking skills” challenges include:
- Organizing themselves
- Maintaining attention and shift attention when needed
- Sustaining and regulating their effort
- Processing Speed
- Modulating their emotions (frustration, excitement, anger)
- Recalling information – memory challenges
- Monitoring and self-regulating their actions
What do we do? We learn how to identify the (lagging skills). Use this tool when you are calm, have time and energy. Use this tool with your professional provider however; as a parent you can start noticing the challenging areas and have a discussion with your provider.
After you identify the lagging skills, then you can define the problem to be solved.
An example of questions to help identify “difficulty managing emotional response to frustration”:
What am I trying to solve? The time my kid goes to bed.
When does this problem happens? When my child is playing video games.
Where is this a problem? At home, every single night.
Who is involved? My child, myself, my partner
How would you like the situation resolve? I want my child to be in bed by 9:00pm.
Consider Collaborative Parenting Skills
You have an incredible opportunity to improve your child or teenager’s ability to manage their own ADHD, behavioral challenges and learn how to parent differently.
Mindset is defined as “a particular way of thinking: a person’s attitude or set of opinions about something”. One of life’s challenges is when you are”changing your mindset”. Let me give you an example.
What do you see when you look at this cavern picture?
A new perspective? An Opportunity? Grace, life, a challenge, freedom, beauty or peace? Do you feel anxious, nervous, worry about the unknown or are you excited and have thoughts of “I Can”?
This picture challenges you to consider another way to look at something. Is it new, changing or unknown? It challenges your opinion about something. It challenges your mindset.
How does your mindset impact your life? Is there a habit in your life you would like to change? It will require a change of mindset to be successful.
For a habit to change, we need to think differently. You need to a new system.
Changing A Habit – Change Your System
We need to create a system to help us succeed in developing our new habit. Here are 5 simple ways to change your mindset to create the change you want in your life.
- Tell yourself “I can’t do this YET”
- Commit to a process. Write down the plan (Daily routine, Schedule). Focus on practice.
- Give yourself permission to release the need for immediate results. Put attention to triggers. Plan how you will manage the triggers. Log your daily efforts. Look at long term. Be Realistic.
- Get Feedback: Journaling
- Tweak and adjust your plan or process when needed. Continue to focus on what you’re doing.
Is Changing Your Habit Worth It?
What is the one habit you want to change so you can achieve your #1 goal to realize what you want different in your life? Would it be worth 20 minutes a day to figure out what you have to do different, and then do it?
Research says that in order to create a habit, the first 21 days are of the most value. “It requires a minimum of 21 days for an old image to dissolve and a new one to form” (Phillippa Lally study “How are habits formed: Modeling habit formation in the real world”).
Emphasis on “minimum 21 days” to create a new habit
Notice the end results happening every day. When you follow your plan daily, you’ll see changes. Know if you were not able to follow the plan today, it’s okay. Get back on track immediately. Notice your positive self-talk. Missing one opportunity will not impact the habit forming process. Being inconsistent by not following the plan will negatively impact creating the new habit.
Goals get you started with your planning and your system is how you’ll realize progress to your new habit.
Six Points To Changing Your Mindset
Here are six points to help you change your mindset and gain clarity on your new habit.
Name what you want
Name the Habit you want to change?
What’s your priority?
Is there anyone you want to talk to this about?
What are the benefits for acquiring this habit?
What challenges will you encounter?
Happy Holidays from Avant-Garde Center
By Guest Blogger Alyssa Lee, MRC, CRC, LPC Intern
Supervised by Dulce Torres, LPC-S
Minimize Stress and Maximize Enjoyment
The holidays are full of fun, excitement, and (unfortunately) a litany of things to do. For a person with ADHD, preparing for the holidays can be stressful and overwhelming. There are a number of things one can do to prepare for the holidays in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes enjoyment.
Organization is key to keeping afloat during this busy time of year. In order to do that, it is helpful to make lists and prioritize the most important things to get done.
If your list becomes too long, pick 3-4 items a day that you know you must finish in order to stay on track.
- For example, 5 days before Christmas choose to focus on:
- wrapping all the presents
- picking out the menu for Christmas dinner
- cleaning/stocking the guest bathroom
- Then, 4 days before Christmas focus on:
- buying all of the ingredients for Christmas dinner
- vacuuming the house
- washing all the holiday dishes
By breaking things up, it becomes less stressful and more manageable.
Only One Thing At A Time
Another way to stay on track would be to focus on one task at a time. For instance, if you know you have three tasks to complete in one day, put all your energy into only one thing.
Try not to think about the other tasks or else you might get distracted. That way, you can feel a sense of accomplishment after completing each individual task.
Lastly, it is important to remember to have fun!
- Take breaks
- Enjoy some Christmas music
- Drink hot cocoa with your family
Sometimes it is helpful to set a timer or phone alarm to keep track of your breaks. That way, you won’t lose track of your day and you can still have time to do other things without feeling like you have wasted time.
Have fun this holiday season and remember these tips!
Click here and print this out and use it to help keep your holidays under control
Reach For Your Goals
By Guest Blogger Elizabeth Carr, LPC, NCC from ResourcED Student Support Services
This post speaks to my parents of teenagers with ADHD, who often initiate counseling because they’re at the end of their metaphorical rope trying to help their kiddo get back on track, stay on track, follow the rules etc. With or without an ADHD diagnosis, teenagers can test every nerve in your body that you never knew you had! Goal setting is often where I start with my clients to help us hash out where their strengths and struggles lie. While the concepts for goal building are pretty general, the examples given are taken from past clients with ADHD. The list can ultimately be used to create goals for anyone. Let’s collectively take a deep breath and keep the following in mind:
1. Set and maintain realistic, achievable goals.
To start, putting goals in order of urgency. For example, it may be more important that your teenager improves his/her failing grade in math vs. making his/her bed. As to not overwhelm, work on one or two goals at a time. Create a list of goals with a few thoughts in mind;
- Is the goal specific enough? For example: Attend weekly math tutoring session after school vs. raise math class grade.
- Is the goal within your teen’s abilities? Start small and build toward a goal to test this out. For example a starting goal can be: After school each Thursday, throw away all items (papers, gum wrappers, broken pens etc) from your backpack. Building into a goal like: Throw away all unneeded items from backpack, re-organize left over items into correct folders, pencil holders, desk drawers etc.
2. Allow room for mistakes
It takes about 21 days to form a habit. There are going to be slip ups, and that’s ok. Notice where things fell off track and help them problem solve.
3. Listen to their input and allow them to have a say
During sessions, I usually let my teens write their own goals…with guidance. I have found that they are more likely to take them seriously if they had a hand in their creation.
4. Outsource the reminders
It has been my experience that the more I, as their counselor, and you, as their parent, can empower your teenager to be independent, the more willing they are to work towards achieving set goals. If your teen requires reminders to stay on top of their goals, or to complete certain tasks, don’t take this on yourself…outsource it. Use Google alerts, iPhone reminders, sticky notes on the mirror, whatever it takes.
5. Check in on progress/struggle often
How’s it going? I know, I know, they’ll probably be annoyed with you “budding in” and asking questions. Usually I allow my clients who are insistent that they can achieve the set goals on their own without input from others to test it out. Again, it takes about 21 days to make a behavior a habit, and even longer if you are trying to replace an already established habit. So if there is still struggle or resistance with a set goal, revisit it, does it need to be broken down into a smaller task? Would an automatic reminder (through their cell phone or calendar) help?
Progress can sometimes be hard to spot, but keep in mind how great it feels to hear encouragement. Even a small positive push, Hey, I’ve noticed that you’ve been working hard to…., can go a long way.
Elizabeth is CEO of ResourcED Student Support Services, Empowering Detroit’s Future Leaders. For more about her, to see the original post or checkout Elizabeth’s bi-weekly blog, we encourage you to click on this link