Understanding Valentine's Day and ADHD
Valentine’s Day is a holiday full of excitement—sweet treats, crafts, games, gifts, and more. However, for kids with ADHD, the stimulation and chaos of celebrations can become overwhelming.
Children with ADHD often struggle with executive functioning skills like emotional regulation, impulse control, organization, and managing stimulation. As a result, the influx of candy, activities, and emotions on Valentine’s Day can overtax their brains and lead to meltdowns.
It’s important for parents to understand this connection as the holiday approaches. With some adjustments to set expectations and create structure, Valentine’s Day can still be fun for ADHD kids.
The Connection Between ADHD and Celebration Activities
Many traditional Valentine’s Day activities like parties at school and friends’ houses, candy binges, greeting card exchanges, and more involve:
- Overstimulation from decorations, noises, and excess sugar
- Chaotic environments with large groups and constant activity changes
- Sudden schedule disruptions or rushing around
- Mounting social pressures around card exchanges, gifts, etc.
These factors challenge kids with ADHD by flooding their senses, disrupting routines, and tapping their weaker executive skills. Without interventions, the result is often emotional and behavioral issues.
Feeling Overwhelmed, Stressed Out, or Anxious During the Holidays
As excitement builds leading up to the holiday, many ADHD kids start to feel stressed or anxious. Their worries may include:
- Feeling left out of card or gift exchanges
- Forgetting to make or bring valentines to school
- Worrying gifts won’t be “good enough”
- Feeling overwhelmed by holiday stimuli and activities
- Fearing sugar and schedule disruptions will trigger loss of control or meltdowns
These feelings can simmer under the surface but burst out suddenly due to the demands of Valentine’s Day. Planning ahead and making adjustments can ease the pressure.
Heart-Shaped DIY Gifts
Heart decorations, cards, baked goods, and other DIY gift projects allow kids to get creative in calmer environments. Provide all necessary art supplies and examples ahead of time so imagination can flow without frustrating searches mid-project.
Valentine’s Day Cards
Homemade cards allow ADHD kids to prepare valentines for classmates on their own timeline. Having cards ready ahead of time eliminates the last-minute rush and stress. Make extra generic cards to provide backups just in case on the big day.
Decorations for Valentine’s Day
From window clings to paper chains to stickers, crafting decorations together allows ADHD kids to get involved in holiday preparations without overstimulation. Display items around the house proudly.
Guided Breathing Exercises
Have your child practice deep breathing techniques leading up to the holiday to build relaxation skills. Even with just a few minutes of focus on slow inhales and exhales, this activity for ADHD kids can provide quick composure on Valentine’s Day when tensions rise.
Mindful Coloring or Drawing
Quiet coloring pages or blank paper for mindful doodling help redirect your child’s energy. The repetitive motions promote calm, and the creative outlet gives kids an acceptable place to channel anxious excitement.
Listening to Calming Music or Sounds
Creating a serene space by playing soft, soothing music helps lower tensions when ADHD kids need to decompress from the holiday. Nature sounds also tap into our innate relaxation response through familiar environmental cues.
Structured Activities for ADHD Kids
Create a Schedule for the Day
Post a visual Valentine’s Day schedule detailing the timed activities planned for the holiday. Checking off accomplishments provides a sense of control. Having activities, meals, emotions, and transitions mapped out also reduces uncertainty.
Engage in Structured Games or Puzzles
Board games, matching games, jigsaw puzzles, and the like have clear rules and steps that ADHD minds thrive on. Dedicate time for these calmer pursuits amidst the holiday excitement to maintain balance and engagement.
Do a Personalized Celebration
Cook a Special Meal Together
Prepare a family-only Valentine’s Day feast to share love and quality time with your child. This ritual can provide a comforting oasis amidst overwhelming traditions.
Watch a Fun Movie or Show as a Family
Curling up together to enjoy a themed film makes an ideal low-key family activity for your ADHD kid. Laughter and entertainment can override tensions while bonding, thanks to the shared experience.
Choose One of Your Child's Favorite Activities
Let your child select a personalized activity to celebrate Valentine’s Day based on their special interest or what makes them happiest. Accommodating your child’s needs breeds comfort and good vibes.
Learn How to Navigate Holidays and Celebrations With Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic
Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic provides personalized ADHD treatment plans to help your child confidently navigate holidays and special events. Our compassionate team of specialists takes a holistic approach by meeting with all family members to understand your child’s unique needs and challenges. We then offer tailored recommendations and therapy to prevent sensory overload, emotional meltdowns, and other issues during celebrations. By supporting consistency across home and school, we empower families to find joy and connection during meaningful times together.
Contact our team today to learn more about our celebration support services for your thriving child.