How Christmas Could Be Damaging Your Child

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 he 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.

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 he will react by becoming more distracted and disruptive. The consequence may be he doesn’t finish his 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 he 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 his brain. He knows he could be up there in the spotlight but just hasn’t been given the chance 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 him some slack. He’s finding school difficult and home is his haven. So if homework is a struggle, don’t do it. If he wants to lay in bed longer, that’s okay. If he doesn’t want to go shopping and wants to slob in front of the TV, that’s okay. Of course, let him know this is for now only to help him through this period. It’s almost like getting him through a bad case of the flu. His 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. 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, when he feels that adults are making all the decisions for him. Contact me if you’d like a copy of a planner.

 CELEBRATE SUCCESS

So 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 his wonderful talents and abilities. Whatever it is that he enjoys doing, shout it from the rooftops. Make him feel bloody amazing. So if it’s telling jokes, a great mimic, a fantastic artist or an incredible singer let him show off this talent. If you are getting together with the family for Christmas could he 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 for him, that helps him to get through the day. However, one word of caution. Let your child know that you are a Warrior fighting for him, but try not to make the school situation ‘them and us’. Try not to slag the school off in front of him as you want him 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!)

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 8.30pm to 9pm.

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