Help your family enjoy the holidays with children with ADHD

7 Easy Tips for Surviving the Holidays with Children with ADHD

Many children can get overwhelmed through the holidays; the hustle and bustle, the lights, the sounds. But what might be slightly overwhelming for any child can be very overwhelming for those children with ADHD or other sensory processing disorders. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays with children with ADHD.

There are several things you can do to help mitigate the stress and anxiety children with ADHD may feel during the holiday season. Be aware that you know your child best; use your best judgement as to what works best for your own child.

Plan Ahead – The more you can plan ahead for the different things you know are coming up during the holidays, the better off your child will be. Make sure they know about different parties ahead, different friends or family members that may be staying over or even an outing to a Christmas concert or tree lighting. Don’t just tell your child about it, either; make sure they are OK with it, and see if they have thoughts or anything they’d like to contribute to it.

Christmas Trees don't always have to have lights.Lights – Most (all?) people put lights on their Christmas trees, while others also put lights on their house. Bright lights, especially ones that blink and flash, can cause massive anxiety for those children with ADHD. If you still want to put lights on your tree, consider keeping them all white lights, or at least don’t make your colored lights flash and blink.

Music – While we all like to listen to holiday music, the loud or fast songs can really make children anxious. Instead, play instrumental music, or slower classic songs. You don’t have to have it playing all the time, as well; maybe just for a short time each day would be enough.

Shopping – Consider doing a lot of your gift shopping online so you don’t have to take your child to the store. During the holiday season, the stores are bright, loud and full of shoppers, which can be a disaster waiting to happen. If you, as an adult, don’t like shopping during this time, imagine how it is for children with ADHD. Overwhelming.

Food – Children with ADHD often like to eat foods they are familiar with, so avoid trying a lot of new holiday recipes, especially all at one time. If you want to try a few new side dishes in preparation for holiday meals, try a new one once a week or so, alongside a familiar meal.

Let your child have a time-out if they need one.  This can be key for helping children over the holidays with ADHD.Space – Give your child space to themselves. On days that are slower, make sure you leave them slow so your child has a chance to recharge. If you have family staying overnight at your house, try to keep your child’s room free of other people, if at all possible. This gives them a space to escape to if they get overwhelmed by people or noise.

Don’t Do Too Much – It can be fun to go through Pinterest and print out fun work pages, crafts, Advent Calendars, recipes, and much much more. In fact, we have a Christmas with Kids board of our own! But even though we, as moms, can find these fun and exciting, children with ADHD can find it all to be just too much. If your child doesn’t seem to want to do an activity that you had planned, put it on hold. He may just need an hour to himself. Or maybe he’ll be into it the next day; forcing your child to do ‘fun’ things won’t make it fun for anyone!

These tips are useful for all children, not just those with ADHD. Remember, your children are just as (or more than!) excited about Christmas as you are, they just don’t or can’t express it the same way. Keep your patience and remember to give joy and peace to make this a truly wonderful Christmas Season.

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7 Easy Tips for Surviving the Holidays when your child has ADHD


  • Jennie November 8, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Very interesting and valuable information.

  • Shela Yount | I Answer to Mom November 9, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    This was so helpful, Rebekah! Thank you for sharing this! I am going to implement a more peaceful, relaxing environment this year by playing instrumental Christmas music. I love the chaos of Christmas morning, but also want my kids to have fun and not be stressed out or overwhelmed 🙂 This was great!

    • Rebekah @ My Circus My Monkeys November 9, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      Oh, I love the chaos of Christmas morning, as well! It’s so much fun!

  • Jehava November 29, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I love that you wrote about this! So many parents need this! Awesome


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