It’s hard to believe it is almost winter break and the holiday season. For many this is a welcome experience with time with family, a break from school and work, and a nice change of pace. For others, there can be increased stress for different reasons. For children and teens who struggle with ADHD, self-regulation, or just don’t do well with changes in routine or lack of structure, the holidays and time off from school can be challenging.
Here are some practical suggestions on how to make the holiday season and time off school more enjoyable for everyone.
1. Maintain some of the basic structure that often works well such as consistent bedtimes.
2. Adapt rules about technology to winter break and holidays. Some rules you use for weekends could be carried over, but if having those same ones for more than two days at a time could pose a problem, creating a different set to use during winter break could be useful.
3. For days with no plans, consider sitting with your child or teen and collaboratively making a general schedule to create some structure. It is important to have flexibility with this, and in some cases, using it as a rough guide to plan ahead for activities that involve logistics (I.e., going ice skating) can be helpful. It does not always have to be followed exactly. Just make the expectations around this clear to your child/teen. Even having a few set activities and blocks of time devoted to free time can be helpful.
4. While it is a school break, decide if your child/teen should incorporate time reading, practicing a musical instrument, or whatever else makes sense. Maintaining this kind of structure over break can be useful.
This list is not exhaustive of possible things. Rather, it is geared towards giving you enough guidance that you can take the principles from it and apply them as relevant to your household.
Copyright 2022 Carey A. Heller, Psy.D.