3. I want my kids to play outside in nice weather … but I'm afraid they will zone out in front of the TV or computer all summer long. Should children be forbidden from screen time?
Kids today have screen time like our generation would hang out at the arcade. Studies have shown that age appropriate use can actually be beneficial to them, but they do need boundaries around it. Try making screen time a reward for completing tasks or limit it to a certain time of the day. (Many parents find success in only allowing screens in the evening between dinner and bed time.) It's also important to be able to detect when your child is getting escalated or overwhelmed by a game or task. Be willing and able to call a "break time" to allow the child to calm down and do a more relaxing activity for a while.
4. My kids trash my house. How can I get my kids to help out?
Once again, ADHD and ASD kids thrive on organization and predictability. So the easy answer to this question is lists. Make them for everything and make them detailed. Step one should not be "get ready for the day" but, "get dressed, brush your teeth, brush your hair, make your bed and eat breakfast.") If you want your child to clean the bathroom, spell out what that looks like step by step. They cannot reason or organize tasks yet — help them help you.
After you have established your lists, clean an area together so they get to experience it, then take a picture of that area and post it. Kids have different learning styles and the sooner you find out what theirs is, the happier you all will be. To get your child to do more of what you ask the first time, use a "when-then" process: "When you have finished collecting and taking out the trash, then you can go up to the playground."
5. Should I give my kids an allowance?
Kids love having control. So if we can give them that control by paying them a set fee for doing the chores, and then allowing them to blow their own money on games at the fair, it teaches them about spending and saving their money. But just because they are getting paid, doesn't mean they will go down without a fight. For this reason, it's still important to establish rules around chores. If you don't include an expected time for the work to be completed, kids will push that limit and procrastinate to the point that it will not get done — and then the fight starts! Just give them a time limit and post it — then allow them to impress you.
6. What's wrong with planning our kids and families activities for the entire summer?
When we create a perfect scenario, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Instead, make a bucket list of things to accomplish over the break. Everyone gets to add to the list and they should be long range goals as well as rainy day activities and simple playful tasks. Hang the lists where everyone can see them and then check things off rather than stress over the details.
7. By the end of summer break, my kids and I are typically driving each other crazy! How can I plan ahead to make sure that doesn't happen this year?
Step 1: Plan some time for you! We forget that for the last nine months, our kids were only with us for maybe 72 hours at a time. Otherwise, they were at school, practices and events, doing homework. Now, all of a sudden, they are with us 24/7 and we wonder why we fight. We get tired of people after a while! (I don't even like my husband all day, every day!) So plan for days at the pool and camping trips and family vacations, but make sure you plan for the kids to attend a sleepover. If you really need it, plan a mini vacation for you and your sweetheart to get away alone for a while. It's the perfect time since your babysitter won't have all the stresses of the school year and schedule to worry about, and it will show them that self-care is just as important as caring for others. Keep reading...