Mary Pat Hamzik, B.S. 

The holidays can be a joyous time filled with family, friends, and fun. It can also be a time of increased stress, busyness, and dysregulation for many people. Children with ADHD often have difficulties regulating their emotions during times of transitions and changes in their routine. They can become overwhelmed quickly and find themselves frustrated over little things. With the excitement of the holidays and the change in routine from their school schedules, winter break can end up being more disruptive than cheerful for some families. Here are some tips that parents can follow to help their child with ADHD manage the holidays: 

  1. Set expectations: Preparing your child for certain holiday festivities and setting appropriate and realistic expectations for these events can help a child with ADHD feel comfortable going into these events.  
  1. Carefully choose holiday events: Accepting invitations to every holiday party and planning numerous holiday events may overwhelm a child with ADHD, particularly since it is a change from their typical routine. It can be helpful to collaboratively plan how to spend the holidays and give your child an opinion as to which activities to participate in. 
  1. Establish rules: Since many holiday events include visiting other peoples’ homes or public spaces, it can be helpful to establish clear, realistic, and concise rules for children with ADHD. This can help prevent outbursts or intense emotional reactions to situations.  
  1. Plan for de-stimulation: Many children with ADHD may become overly stimulated or overwhelmed by the change in their routines and the different events around the holidays. It can be beneficial to develop ways in which the child can de-stimulate and cope with uncomfortable or frustrating situations. Making a plan to manage dysregulation and establishing a “safe space” can be effective when going to an event. These can be plans for decreasing dysregulation or plans for if a child needs to leave a certain space and seek security. 

The holidays are often a time of excitement and fun for many children but can be challenging for those with ADHD. Taking steps and being intentional about planning for the holidays can help decrease disappointment, frustration, or overstimulation for these children, and instead, increase fun, excitement, and holiday cheer! 

See more tips and ways to help your child with ADHD during the holidays at these resources: