As the beginning of school approaches or, perhaps, has already started, many kids with ADHD/ADD can feel a mix of excitement and dread. Some are excited to see their friends again but dread the start of the academic year. Others would just prefer to avoid the whole scene–social and academic. Often, they are sad to say goodbye to the freedoms of summer and the pleasure of homework-free days. Making this transition back to school can be challenging for even the most well adapted kids who don’t have the challenges of ADHD to contend with.
To beat the ADHD Back to School Blues, you have to help your child or teen navigate this shift to school by easing them into the changes ahead. Such support requires looking back and looking forward to identify and build upon successes and lessons from the previous year. Try these steps:
1) Talk about the return to school by reviewing with your child or teen a few positives and negatives about going back–being as specific as possible.
2) Then look at what successes your child or teen had last year that you would like to see repeated and she would like to see repeated. If you can’t come up with any at first, take some time to think of a few examples. No success is too small to mention.
3) Together, make a list of 3 goals for this year that are achievable and realistic. Keep them simple and concrete. For instance, if your son struggles with math and got a ‘C’ last year, getting an ‘A’ in math may not be a realistic goal for this year but getting a ‘B’ might be. Prioritize these ideals and agree to focus only on Number One for a month. Set a date for a follow-up conversation to check on his progress before moving on to Numbers Two and Three.
4) Identify worries about the school year with your son or daughter. Your goal is to empower him or her towards feeling a sense of control over any concerns instead of being controlled by them. Strategize some manageable solutions and write them down on an electronic device or on a piece of paper (that you post so it doesn’t get lost) for future reference.
5) Give your child or teen time to adjust to the school routine. It takes ADHD kids longer to re-adjust their internal body clocks and their minds to a new schedule.
Good luck and welcome back to school!