The following article was published in ADDvisor newsletter earlier this year. We are publishing this article in our newsletter with kind permission from Alan Graham and Bill Benninger of ADDvisor.

“ADDvisorTM is your link to trustworthy, reliable information about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). If you would like to participate in any of our calls or our other programs, or would simply like more information, including times and fees, call us at: 1-866-ADDvisor. Or you can email Alan Graham at [email protected] or Bill Benninger at [email protected]. We will give you the information you request.”

We all are aware that ADHD children and teens do best in a structured predictable environment. Summertime comes and school is out. What will your child do all day? ADHD kids are very creative and will find many different things to do, many of which may lead them into trouble. The more supervision you can provide for your child, the less likely that they will get into trouble and the more likely they will have a good summer. What follows is a list of activities you can arrange for your child.

1. Camp – Camps are great opportunities for your child to be involved with other children in non academic settings. In addition to the many overnight and day camps available in all areas of the country, there are camps designed especially for ADHD children. Some camps, such as boy scout or girl scout camps, last for a week or two. Other camps may last 4 to 8 weeks. Decide on which camp would best suit your child’s temperament.

Day camps are often available locally. Sports camps, drama camps, crafts camps, cheerleading camps, and dance camps are all examples of structured activities that can key into one of your child’s interests and talents.

It may not be too late to arrange for your child to be in one of these camps. It is also not too late to begin to plan for next year.

2. Sports – There are sports programs for children of all ages. These programs may be instructional or competitive but can provide your child with an opportunity to showcase their talents and have an area where they are applauded rather than criticized.

3. Vacations – Family vacations can be a nightmare but they can also be an opportunity to spend “quality time” with your child. Remember that the most important thing to do to increase the odds of having a great vacation is to plan ahead and be prepared for anything. Involving your child in vacation planning and setting up plans to reinforce appropriate behavior are two good ways to prepare.

When my 3 children were younger (between 3-12), we took 2 week driving vacations. We devised a behavior modification plan that reduce the number of backseat battles. (“ewwww!, Don’t touch me! Leave me alone! MOM! Andrew won’t leave me alone!)

We divided up the day into 7 parts. Wake up until breakfast; breakfast; between breakfast and Lunch; lunch; between lunch and dinner; dinner; and after dinner until bedtime. If the children were 1) respectful to each other; 2) cooperative with following directions and 3) kept their hands (and other body parts) to themselves, they received a check on a chart. They could earn up to 7 checks a day – one for each time period – and 3 bonus check if they got all seven in a day. At the end of the trip, they could turn in their checks for a dime apiece. For fourteen days this could amount to $42 but it was worth the piece of mind of an enjoyable trip. You can vary the time frames, behaviors to modify and the rewards so that it best suits your children.

4. Summer School – Often, our ADHD children have to go to summer school to make up classes so this option has been chosen for them based on their school performance. Some summer school programs, however, offer enrichment classes or classes that are not normally in the school curriculum. These programs can help to fill your child’s day in a positive way.

5. Jobs – A summer job is a wonderful opportunity for your teen to develop responsible adult behavior and to make some money as well. Your teen may need some organizational help to look for a job, fill out an application and to manage day to day work issues.

6. Family projects – Summertime is often a time to complete projects around the house. Painting the house, cleaning out the basement or garage, refinishing furniture are projects that, if completed with a family member, can keep your child occupied for days and help build responsible behavior.

This is not an exhaustive list nor is every activity appropriate for every child but the point is: a busy child is a happy child and a happy parent.