The school year has a certain rhythm that most families eventually fall into. By and large, both parents and children know what to expect from each day with a consistent routine, and while the long, lazy days of summer hold a special appeal, they also mark a drastic shift in day-to-day life. Determining how to navigate change can be difficult for many families, particularly those who have a child who has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Children with ADHD have difficulty controlling their impulses and struggle with being forgetful and inattentive. Structure and routine are important components of helping them manage the condition, a fact which can make the summer months especially challenging. Still, there are ways that parents can help their child with ADHD have a happy and productive summer while also maintaining their own peace of mind. Here are a few:
Keep Nighttime Routines the Same
While you may not be able to keep the same daytime routine during the summer, nighttime rituals can usually remain largely unchanged. When possible, maintain the same order and timing of events such as dinner, bath, and bed that you do during the school year. In many cases, morning routines may also be able to follow the same, familiar patterns. If you don’t want to always be so structured, allow for flexibility during the weekends.
Make Lists and Calendars
If you are a stay-at-home parent, plan the day or week ahead as well as you can. Layout your intended schedule and activities, so your child has a good idea of what to expect and when. Even if you don’t stick to it strictly, a general guideline of how the day will go can be helpful for ADHD children. If you work and rely on childcare during the week, speak with your provider about how they structure the day and plans for the upcoming week. In most cases, summer camps follow a schedule that they can easily communicate with parents, including meal times, activities, and field trips.
Consider Summer Camp
Even if you don’t need summer camps and childcare during the summer, they may still be a good option to consider. As previously mentioned, these camps often rely on structure and routine that can work well for children with ADHD. They also provide valuable opportunities for socialization with peers. There may even be camps available in your area that are tailored specifically for children with ADHD or other learning differences. Conduct online research, ask other parents, or speak with your child’s doctor about which options may be available.
Don’t Skip Psychiatry Appointments
Your child works so hard during the school year, that it’s understandable to want to give them a break over the summer. In some cases, parents may scale back on psychiatry appointments and even consider taking their child off of medication over the break. Unfortunately, ADHD is not a condition that comes and goes, and parents should be prepared to address it year-round. Reducing medication may be a viable option, but it should only occur after consulting with your child’s psychiatrist or prescribing provider. Keep the doctor appointments, and ask about how you can best manage your child’s condition over the summer, while also keeping them prepared for the following school year.
Has your child previously been diagnosed with ADHD, or are they exhibiting symptoms? If so, contact Psychiatry Associates of Baton Rouge, and request an appointment with board-certified child psychiatrist, Dr. Ashley Albarado. Dr. Albarado can help you better understand your child’s behavior with an accurate diagnosis, as well as help manage ADHD in a way that is most beneficial for their unique needs.