The end of the year is exciting. Work winds down. The weather is warm. There’s great food, and fun with family and friends to be had. But for parents who have children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , the holidays can be challenging. Unstructured time and endless freedom are fertile ground for impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity in kids.
Dr Rykie Liebenberg, a psychiatrist in private practice, provides these tips on how best to manage ADHD during the holidays:
1. Limit screen time
Longer days and free time mean it’s tempting for kids to spend more time playing computer games or watching movies.
“Excessive screen time – although enjoyable – isn’t beneficial for adults, teenagers or children with ADHD,” says Dr Liebenberg. “It leads to irritability and restlessness, and can become almost addictive.”
2. Manage the family
Holidays generally mean the whole family are in the house at once – which is uncommon during the working year – and can lead to frustration and friction among adults and children with ADHD.
“It’s common for individuals with ADHD to have mood swings during the holidays, because of the lack of structure, schedule and stimulation, paired with a crowded house,” explains Dr Liebenberg. Try and keep the family busy out of the house as much as possible.
3. Rely on routine
Stick to a routine. Holidays are unstructured, but try and follow a routine for children with ADHD.
4. Exercise more
The benefits of exercise for managing symptoms of ADHD are innumerable – it can help with stress, decrease frustration and improve focus. Maintaining regular levels of exercise throughout the holidays can help keep impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention under control, according to Dr Liebenberg.
Go for a walk with your family. Take advantage of the warmer weather by swimming. The kids will love splashing around in the pool.
5. Eat healthily
Don’t abandon healthy eating habits just because the sun is out and things are relaxed. Although there will be festive treats and big celebratory meals, try and balance these with healthier, more balanced options.
“With a bit of routine, effort and planning, ADHD symptoms can be managed effectively and the whole family can enjoy a fuss- and stress-free end-of-year holiday,” concludes Dr Liebenberg.
For more information on managing the symptoms of ADHD, visit myadhd.co.za.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.