September can be an exciting and busy month for all families. The month signifies the return of the academic year for many and for those who have kids with ADHD—some of us dread this month. It means new routines, new wakeup calls and bedtimes, new teachers, new homework assignments, new afterschool activities, new friend groups, new clothes and it’s all about TRANSITION!
Getting used to new routines and transitions is often difficult for ADHDers. Transitioning relies on many executive function skills such as emotional control, time management, prioritization, working memory, task initiation, organization, and flexibility among others. These can all be skillsets that are still being strengthened which means September can really challenge kids with executive function skill deficits. Here are a couple parent tips to keep your sanity and support your ADHDer:
- Lower expectations. Your child may be very cranky, tired, irritable and it’s very likely that they may not immediately want to talk about their school day with you. Give them extra time to download after school. They may need quiet, some extra time outside or even a nap.
- Stagger new activities if possible. Especially for younger ADHDers—their brains are processing a LOT of new information. If their new dance or swim class can wait an extra week or two, it’s great to give your child some extra time to adjust.
- Normalize feeling nervous, anxious, or uneasy. Discuss your own experiences with starting school as a child or starting a new job or activity as an adult. Verbalize how you felt in those situations and what you did to deal with your feelings. This can help teach your child that it’s normal to feel many different feelings when dealing with transition.
- Model using positive self-talk. Kids with ADHD tend to get more negative messaging than neurotypical children. Try setting positive intentions with your kids in the morning such as what are you grateful for today? What made you proud this week? What would you like to create? Ask them to picture themselves engaging with this intention.
Good luck parents of ADHDers—I know you can do this!