Many children with ADHD spend their school day using every ounce of their energy trying to focus and remain on "school behavior." By the time they get home, however, they have pent-up energy waiting to be released. Some children take medication to get through the school day, but by the time they get home, the medicine may be wearing off. Either way, late afternoon and early evening can be challenging times for kids with ADHD and their parents. Fortunately, there are ways to help make the end of the day easier for everyone.
Keep a Routine
Children will have less stress and therefore exhibit better behavior if they know what is expected every day when they come home. A structure to the day will not only improve the behavior of a child with ADHD, but will help solidify family relationships. Have your child do his homework in the same place at the same time every day, eat dinner as a family at the same time as often as possible and create a predictable bedtime routine.
Provide an Outlet
Daily exercise is important for all children, but it may have a huge impact on the behavior of a child with ADHD. Give your child an outlet for his energy every day through organized sports, or simply by allowing her time to run, take a walk or swing on a swing set. Martial arts require intense concentration as well as movement, so they tap into your child's need to immerse herself in a physical activity. If your child does not like team sports, swimming may prove to be a good outlet. For bad-weather days, have a room in the house without too many toys where your child can play as she pleases.
Focus on Nutrition
With a busy after-school schedule, it is sometimes difficult to put a healthy, well-balanced dinner on the table. However, doing so will help minimize disruptive behavior. Skip the chips or soda after school; instead, offer your child a combination of protein and carbohydrates such as an apple and peanut butter or crackers and cheese. What your child eats for dinner could impact how he acts for the rest of the evening, so choose your menu wisely. A well-balanced meal will maintain blood sugar levels which can help focus and attention. Aim to provide all nutrient-rich foods.
Kids with ADHD may have a harder time getting to sleep than other children. In order to minimize bedtime difficulties, keep to your set routine. If necessary, use an egg timer to signal when it is time to change activities, such as time to change into pajamas, brush teeth or read a story. Keep a sticker or reward chart for each completed activity. An hour before bedtime, remove all sources of stimulation such as TV or computer games. Avoid roughhousing, and try to keep the house quiet. Consider asking your child's doctor about using melatonin, a popular supplement.
- Additudemag: Reliable Routines for ADHD Children
- Children's Physician Network: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): How to Help Your Child
- Everyday Health: 12 Sleep Tips for ADHD Kids
- Babycenter: Best and worst after-school activities for children with ADHD
- Additudemag: ADHD Organization Help: 9 Strategies for Stress-Free Evenings at Home
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