5 Tips To Crush The Holidays As The Parent Of An ADHD Child

It's not easy for the kids either.

mom and grandmother holding child Getty

Parents are always striving to make their kids' holidays memorable. But, it isn't always easy if your child struggles with an invisible disability like ADHD.

You may experience being besieged by unwanted and unhelpful advice, which may leave you feeling alone.

As you embark on this season of perpetual parties and family gatherings, there are some things to think about as you parent that can help you support your child to become their best self. 


RELATED: 4 Common Misconceptions About ADHD That Everyone Needs To Forget

5 parenting tips to make your ADHD kids' holidays memorable. 

1. Don’t be afraid to change the plan to do what your ADHD child needs to thrive.

If you need to stay at an event for a short time, alter or reduce the planned activities for the day. You can even stay at a hotel instead of a family’s guest room. It's OK.

Remember that environment has a profound effect on the child’s symptoms, and you want to set the child up for success.

2. Have a place or a pre-arranged strategy to allow for some space and escape advice. 

Give yourself a break when relatives and friends become too intense and have a ready network of support to reinforce that you're doing your best and you're working to help the child long term.


Rome was not built in a day.

3. Don’t be afraid to educate your family.

Maybe they need a copy of "Driven to Distraction" in their stocking? 

Don’t be shy about asking relatives and grandparents to try to understand or call them in advance to ask for support, not advice.

4. Have a ready response to unwanted advice.

Try, “I understand where you are coming from, but we are working on it." Or, "I appreciate your feedback, and I’ll consider if that is right for my son."

You can also try, “That’s an interesting opinion, but I prefer to do it this way." Or even just say, "I’m really not looking for advice right now, thank you."

5. Try to focus on the good the child is doing and remind others to do so, too. 

Praise the child for the things he did well. For example, is he kind to younger children? Did he shovel grandma’s driveway? Is he helpful in carrying bags? Did he use strategies you've worked on?


Remember everyone is working on something — even the child who may not have danced down the aisle of the school pageant to his own tune. Maybe he needs to work on kindness and compassion, you never know. 

RELATED: What You Can Do When Your Child's ADHD And Defiance Makes You Want To Yell

Many of us, as we spend more time with our child — inside classrooms, at holiday parties, school recitals, and theater performances — experience being the parent of "that kid." 

You know, the parent of the kid who fidgets throughout the entire performance, tells his choir director he's bored, and blurts out what he's feeling at any given moment.

Maybe you're the one with the child who has the beautiful voice but has chosen to sing her own words. Or maybe you're working with other parents inside the classroom to play the "chosen" holiday game and your child has a meltdown because his classmate is winning and he’s not.


You’ve probably heard this advice before: "Why can’t your child just behave? Maybe you need to put him in time out more, take a privilege away, be a better parent, etc. 

It’s always something you can be doing better. And there you are again, feeling like you're not doing enough.

You're not alone. Sometimes it feels like people have no patience to be compassionate and kind to kids with ADHD. Many times, other parents just don’t understand what it is and how it affects a child’s brain.

It's important to know that blurting out, lashing out and hitting, driving too fast, failing a test due to too much emotion, or jumping off a playmate's couch and breaking it are all typical examples of self-regulation issues the ADHD child faces. 


Celebrate ADHD by understanding that self-regulation can be difficult for children with ADHD. 

Self-regulating behavior is a challenge for them. When the child experiences incidents of poor self-regulation it shows up in his or her body and mind.

Every action results in an emotion. A trigger, circumstance, or desire emerges for the child, which produces an automatic emotional reaction. These emotions often impact the child’s ability to self-regulate and ultimately affect behavior.

It’s hard to remember all this when faced with relatives who intervene and have something to say about your child’s every move.   


It’s heartbreaking to think children with ADHD grow up believing they are "bad" or "not smart."

We all need to work together to change that narrative. So in the spirit of the holiday season, let’s make a goal to be less judgmental and be more aware of others’ differences.

Think about that critical thought you are having and how it might feel if someone said it to you. Filter what you're saying online or in text messages.

Using the holiday tips above, let's make a promise to look for the good in everyone’s child and try to model understanding even when we cannot relate to the behavior. Children do try and parents are doing their best.


RELATED: 3 Simple Tips For Parenting A Child With ADHD (When You Have ADHD, Too!)

Caroline Maguire, ACCG, PCC, M.Ed. is a personal coach who works with children with ADHD and the families who support them. For more information, visit her website.

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