There is a certain twinkle in the air. The glitter fairy is starting to sprinkle her fairy dust. Adverts reminding us to stock up on gifts, turkey, crackers, stockings, tinsel…Exciting isn’t it?
Mmmm. Maybe not.
Maybe not for our children who find this time of year at school really difficult.
How does this run up to Christmas really impact on your child with ADHD? One word answer, negatively.
There will be a change in routine. That means that although your child is expecting maths after break, instead they’re popping into The Hall for a quick run-through of the carols. Now this one unexpected change can cause enormous problems for your child. Add to that boredom then it is a recipe for your child to lose focus, fidget and play up. Trouble!
Classrooms could be hot, noisier and there will be over-stimulation of hanging decorations and glitter everywhere. This environment doesn’t help your child to remain calm and focussed. Instead they will react by becoming more distracted and disruptive. The consequence may be they doesn’t finish the work and may be kept in at break. No fresh air then straight back to a stuffy classroom and expected to concentrate!
There is the dreaded school play or concert. Teachers are under enormous pressure at the end of a long term to put on a fantastic performance.
Now it won’t surprise you that my son took pride of place ……in the shadows. Not because he was shy but because there he would be less noticeable – or so they thought! So his school Christmas play repertoire was in the choir (back row), a shepherd (at the end of the line) and one glorious year wore a blanket over his head so we didn’t even spot him until the grand reveal at the end.
So your child will have to sit through long rehearsals with maybe a minor role bored out of their brain. Sadly, given the chance your child could be up there in the spotlight but just hasn’t been given the opportunity to shine. Of course the impact on this is a more damaged self-esteem.
The added stress of the teacher to get things done will contribute to your child feeling out of sorts. Our children are quick to pick up how others are feeling and he’ll certainly feel the tension in the air.
So what can you do about it?
We have little control what is going on at school, but we can counteract things at home.
TAKE OFF THE PRESSURE
As described above, your child will be feeling the pressure of school. So for this period remove the pressure from home. Change your expectation of what your child does to help. Give some slack. Your child may be finding school difficult and home is safe haven. So if homework is a struggle, don’t do it. If your child wants to lay in bed longer, that’s okay. If they don’t want to go shopping and wants to slob in front of the TV, that’s okay. Of course, let them know this is for now only to help through this period. It’s almost like getting through a bad case of the flu. Your child’s mental health needs some TLC. But after Christmas all things revert back to normal.
keep to a routine
The thing that may really freak your child out, is the change in routine and a last minute change of plan. This is difficult. So as much as possible stick to an agreed plan after school. Use calendars, checklists, diaries or planners. Write down in words or pictures what the day will look like. This gives back some element of control to your child’s world. Talk and collaborate as much as possible so your child has some ‘skin in the game’.
Your child hasn’t been chosen to be a lead role but has been sidelined to the shadows. Never mind. You can celebrate your child at home and promote their wonderful talents and abilities. Whatever it is that they enjoy doing, shout it from the rooftops. Make your child feel bloody amazing. So if it’s telling jokes, a great mimic, a fantastic artist or an incredible singer let them show off this talent. If you are getting together with the family for Christmas could they plan a play, make the table decorations or organise a talent show? Time to shine.
YOU ARE HIS WARRIOR
To know that someone is fighting your corner is extremely powerful. If your child understands that you ‘get it’ and know why things are tricky, that helps them to get through the day. However, one word of caution. Let your child know that you are a Warrior fighting for them, but try not to make the school situation ‘them and us’. Try not to slag the school off in front of your child as you want them to go to school feeling it is a safe place. Instead say you’re working with school as a team to make things right (even if behind the scenes you are effing and blinding about the effing school!)
LET THE TEACHER KNOW
It is really important to communicate with your child’s teacher that they are struggling. Ask for a quick chat every afternoon to prepare for any changes the following day. Your child will need adequate warnings and a visual schedule on his table would really help.
So I hope that helps with this tricky run-up. If you have any worries or concerns join me for live Q+A in our Facebook group every Wednesday 10am to 10.30am.
WANT TO KNOW HOW TO HAVE AN INCREDIBLE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY?
HOW DO GET THE FAMILY TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR CHILD IS NOT JUST BEING NAUGHTY?
HOW TO YOU BRING BACK THE JOY TO YOUR FAMILY?