Children with ADHD thrive on structure and consistency and can be very sensitive to change. Even small changes can cause stress and anxiety. Children need to be prepared for transition and unfortunately, it hasn’t always been possible in recent times due to the pandemic. At the moment, children have either returned to school or will do in the very near future. However, they could still face periods of school closures and many will just be settling in, only to find they will be off again soon for school holidays! This uncertainty is bound to present new challenges for kids with ADHD.
Here are six tips to help children with ADHD deal with change:
Be Optimistic But Truthful
When you are preparing a child with ADHD for a change, try to make sure that you highlight the positive impact it will have. So if they’re returning to school, remind them about all the things they enjoy the most about it. However, children will pick up on false optimism so be sure to be open and honest too. Listen to any concerns they have, reassure them as best you can and be optimistic.
Give Them Time
Just like adults, children need time to process and prepare for changes they are facing. Tell them a day or two before the event, especially if you think they will react negatively. This gives you time to persuade them to think differently about it.
Exactly when you break the news about a change will depend on your circumstances and when you think your child is ready. It’s good to give them notice, but not too much notice if they are likely to get impatient and anxious.
Choose Your Moment Carefully
When you tell your child about a change, make sure it’s when they are relaxed and in a good mood. This is really important if their behaviour can be unpredictable. When you tell them, don’t rush through it and give the child time to ask any questions they might have.
Ask Them How They Feel
Once you have told your child about a change, make sure you return to them after a while and ask how they are feeling about it. If they are able to express their feelings, it will help them to deal with them. It will also show them that they have your full support.
Use Other Examples
It’s useful if a child can see how others have handled the transition. It will reassure them if they know that someone else has also been in their situation.
If a child is starting school or moving house, read them a book about someone who goes through the same experience. You could also give examples of similar situations from your life. That way you are showing them that you really understand what they are facing.
If a child is anxious about a new situation, use technology to add an extra level of realism. For the return to school, you could arrange a video call with the teacher and ask them to show them the classroom. It’s difficult when we can’t meet up with people but you may be able to arrange for children to chat with friends they haven’t seen for a while. If you’re visiting a new place, look for websites that feature it or maps that show where it is.
We hope you find these ideas helpful. Of course, every child is different and you can never fully predict how they will react to new situations. Recent events have heightened ADHD symptoms in some children and it’s understandable if they are more anxious than they were before. If you find your child isn’t coping, please reach out to someone for support and don’t go through it alone.
At The ADHD Centre, we are currently offering online ADHD assessments for children, as well as a range of evidence-based treatments. To find out more, please contact us by telephone on 0800 061 4276 or by email at email@example.com
You may also enjoy this article from The ADHD Centre Five communication strategies for parents of kids with ADHD