As the holidays draw near, many families will be making plans to get together with loved ones. Thanksgiving dinner is a time for people to come together and enjoy a shared meal. However, for parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it can be a stressful time.
Leading up to Thanksgiving, there are a number of things that can be done to mitigate the potential challenges. Here are a few tips and tricks that may work for you and your family.
1. Plan ahead for the challenges of Thanksgiving dinner with ADHD
Although many of us look forward to family gatherings, there can be stressful situations too. The process of putting together a meal for many guests can be a busy time. Consider some of the difficulties that your child may face.
Perhaps they will find it challenging to sit still for an extended period of time. Plan ahead for how you and your child can manage best. For example, having a “kid’s table” where kids can come and go can help.
2. Managing ADHD and family dynamics
Sometimes this is also about managing expectations. Whether it be the expectations of your child, your own expectations, or the expectations of others, it’s essential to talk things through before Thanksgiving.
Talk with your child about the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. Ask them what they hope will happen and who they’re looking forward to seeing. It may be helpful to also look through family photos to show your child who will be there.
In addition, if you feel comfortable doing so, you may wish to talk to some relatives ahead of time. A conversation before dinner might help set expectations for other family members.
Those with only a little understanding of ADHD may feel pleased to know what might be challenging for your child. By including others in a pre-event conversation, you’re helping to open the door to understanding.
3. Family Stress and ADHD
Sometimes parents of children with ADHD face criticism from others. When people lack knowledge about the symptoms of ADHD they could make a comment about your child’s behavior.
Be ready with a one-liner like “thanks for your ideas,” and then move on to a different topic of conversation.
In addition to this, your child might be excited to share something with a family member too. It might be a book they read or a game they like to play.
4. Anxiety is about the future (so live in the moment)
Often when we’re feeling anxious about what is to come, we’re thinking about what will happen next or in the future. Although you will need to think ahead to plan for the event, try to remain present for what is happening.
If you catch yourself worried about things that might go wrong, try to bring yourself back to the present moment. One way of doing this is by thinking about your own current experience. You might like to take a mindful moment for yourself. Think of 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
5. Confidence is key (so is kindness)
Remember to feel confident with your prep work going into the holiday. You’ve done all you can to prepare yourself and your child for what will hopefully be a nice time with family and friends.
But as much as it’s important to feel prepared, sometimes things don’t go to plan. Keep in mind that that’s okay! During Thanksgiving dinner, something might be unsettling or upsetting for your child. Be kind to yourself and do your best to understand your child and their needs.
As you come together with family, try to enjoy all that the holiday brings and your special time with loved ones.