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  • Aviva Nirenberg

Thriving this summer with ADHD


Imagine it's already September. The summer's flown by in a whirl and you run into an old friend who asks, "How was your summer?" What would have to have happened for you to share that you had an amazing summer, a summer well-lived?

  • Keep the basics of ADHD self-care in mind. As I always stress with my clients, the foundation of great ADHD management begins with optimizing diet, exercise, and sleep. For yourself and your child/ren, even during summer vacation, ensuring a relatively balanced healthy diet, regular physical activity, and good quality sleep will have a huge impact on minimizing ADHD symptoms.

  • Plan ahead and choose how you will spend your summer. Depending on where you live, in light of Covid-19 there may be fewer events and venues competing for your attention this year. In any case, whether it’s family get togethers, a picnic, a nature hike, or a pool or beach outing, you can choose in advance how much time you will spend in settings that may challenge you or your child’s capacity for emotional regulation. You can also plan activities for a time of day when you or a child are at their best.

  • Don’t neglect down-time. Allow yourself or your child unscheduled time to relax. Ensuring that you and your child have time for a nap, to play with a new toy, do a puzzle, or take a walk will give your family the opportunity to recharge and will help you to maintain your sanity and help your child to restore calm and avoid potential melt-down from a demanding schedule.

  • Choose an engaging summer project or learn a new skill. Any activity that sparks your or a child's interest is fair game. Take a few minutes and think what excites you now and if you look back on this summer in September will feel like a summer well spent. It can be anything from learning guitar, experimenting with sour dough bread, planting a garden, riding a 2-wheeler, writing a short story, coding, tap dance, soccer, to name a few. The possibilities are unlimited.

  • Maintain Routine Children and adults with ADHD thrive with the structure and support of routines even during breaks and vacations. Having a rough but flexible schedule allows you and your children to know what to expect and lessens difficulties with transitions

  • Let go of expectations of yourself and your children. It’s hard to banish the fairy tale social media images of a harmonious family on a dream summer vacation or exciting outing. However, these scenes exist only in fictional stories or in a single moment captured and posted on social media, but do not exist in real families. Another important reminder, children with ADHD have a 30% lag in developmental maturity. That means your 12 year old child with ADHD may only be capable of behavior of a typical 8 year old. The best way to avoid frustration and disappointment is to adjust your expectations.

  • Let go of what your family and friends think. No one can understand you and your families unique challenges and therefore they have no right to judge. I realize that the uninvited opinions and comments are very hard to relinquish, but if we can let go, even a little, the emotional freedom is well worth it.

Wishing you relaxing and enjoyable summer!!

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