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ADHD in Children Health Center

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ADHD Summer Survival Tips

How to keep ADHD kids happy and healthy all summer long. Plus, is summer the right time for a medication vacation?

ADHD Summer Tip 2: Consider Day Camp

Parents of ADHD kids should try to find "structured activities where children will have the opportunity for interaction with peers, and where they can have a consistent day-to-day routine, such as summer camps, religious camps, or sports-related activities," says Grcevich.

And camps don't have to cater exclusively to children with ADHD, he says. "Some kids, especially in the group with predominantly inattentive symptoms [such as being easily sidetracked or daydreaming, rather than being hyperactive or impulsive] of ADHD, will do well in many nonacademic settings or activities."

Still, kids with ADHD who have marked social difficulties may benefit from a specialty camp. "Many of these camps -- especially the summer treatment programs run by the larger academic medical centers -- do a nice job teaching kids skills to help them in making and keeping friends."

Of course not every family has the funds for such diversions. "Camp is great if you can afford it but not all families can," says Young, author of ADHD Grown Up: A Guide to Adolescent and Adult ADHD. Instead, "try making a play date in the morning with a friend, and generally having something on the agenda -whether it's visiting a friend's house or taking a trip to a local zoo. It's also really good to encourage creativity. Arts and crafts projects can be helpful."

ADHD Summer Tip 3: Make Lists

What if you are a working parent who is not at home to oversee such daytime excursions? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60.2% of married women were in the labor force in 2005, making activity-planning one more item to add to parents' already-extensive "to-do" list: "I would recommend that parents sit down with their child care providers and explain the special circumstances and specific expectations regarding daytime structure," Young says.

To do this, "a schedule or a list would be very helpful and effective," he says. Don't be too draconian. "You want them to have plenty of fun during the summer and not simulate the school day. Lists, along with a general time frame of what needs to get done during the day, will be helpful." For example, 7-8 a.m. is breakfast time, followed by a 9-11:30 a.m. visit to a friend's house, and reading time at 2-2:30 p.m.

Finally, whether your relatives help with child care, or they are simply around for a summertime visit, "it's important that all family members agree to maintain the routines for children with ADHD to function well," says Teitelbaum. This includes plans around medication and behavior modification, common treatments for ADHD.

ADHD Summer Tip 4: Set a Bedtime

Having fun-filled summer days often hinges on getting a good night's sleep. However, many children with ADHD have difficulty sticking to a regular bedtime. They may get preoccupied with TV or computer games or just have difficulty winding down. As a result, they can be tired and unwieldy the next day. And that can drive parents crazy.

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