5 Tips to Help Children With ADHD on Halloween
The leaves are falling, and the front porches are filled with pumpkins. Your neighborhood is probably covered in cobwebs and ghost decor. Halloween is upon us! For many children, this is such an exciting time of year. The anticipation of dressing up in their new costume and collecting candy is all a positive experience. For children with ADHD, however, this can be a triggering time of year. The excitement and stimulus of the holiday can bring feelings of anxiety and behavior outbursts. As a parent, you can help. In this blog, we’ll share some simple tips and tricks to make Halloween safe and fun for your child with ADHD.
The Effects of ADHD and Halloween
Let’s take a look at a real-life example. Steven is a second grader who visited Kyra Minichan two days after the night of trick or treating last year. Steven was diagnosed with ADHD and had impulsive tendencies. When asked if he had fun on Halloween night with his friends, he shook his head no and looked sad. So, Kyra asked him why it was not fun. He looked up at Kyra and said that there were way too many “No’s” said to him. He said, “Every time I went to do anything, I heard: ‘No Steven, no!’”
It doesn’t have to be that way. Halloween should be fun. By implementing a few simple tips from The Cognitive Emporium, it truly can be.
5 Tips to Help Children With ADHD on Halloween
It’s easy to get caught up in the Halloween hoopla, especially for parents who have great childhood memories of trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, for kids who become easily overstimulated, struggle with navigating the unknown, and don’t always go with the flow, this time of year can trigger a host of unwanted behaviors. To help minimize the meltdowns caused by children with ADHD, follow these easy tips for Halloween night:
- Plan Ahead. If you know the timing of the Halloween events, which may be community, social, or school, put them on the family calendar, so everyone knows the expectations. Then start to read books about Halloween, share stories of your childhood Halloween memories, and review pictures from past Halloweens of family and friends. The more information the kids have about the type of event, the less it becomes a scary unknown and more of a naturally occurring event.
- Let the child pick a costume that they want to wear. Be warned that this may not be the costume the parent would ideally choose. That’s okay. Offering a choice of four for young kids is a helpful strategy. Keep it simple and be aware of any hypersensitivities to texture.
- Be respectful of your child’s wants, needs, and space. If you have a child who doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, is overly shy, or becomes easily overwhelmed by too many people, sounds, or lights, create opportunities for the child to take a break. This might even look like a planned exit strategy from particular events. Develop a code word for the child to tell you if they feel uncomfortable and rehearse the situation beforehand. For example, “Johnny, Mommy will be here if you need me. If you need to leave, I want you to come to me and say the word, “Pumpkin,” and we will go in the hallway and talk about what you need.”
- Review and rehearse safety rules. Halloween can be one of the most dangerous events of the year, especially for kids who struggle to pay attention or may be impulsive. If you know your child has these characteristics, it is essential to ensure that safety rules are reviewed and rehearsed before each event. The best way to rehearse them is through role-playing. Make it fun for the kids, and they are more likely to pay attention. Making up games or acting out scenarios for the kids to play along with is a great way to see what they know and what they need to know to stay safe.
- Watch their sugar intake. Eating the sweet stuff causes blood sugar levels to spike, which triggers insulin release. Refined sugar wreaks havoc on the brain and body. It increases inflammation and erratic brain cell firing, contributing to unwanted behaviors. The behaviors can be more noticeable for kids who are already prone to hyperactivity or inattention. That is why it is essential to talk to your child ahead of time and devise a plan to limit the amount of Halloween candy eaten in one day. Every family’s standards are different, and it is up to the parents to decide the limit they want to put on candy intake. It can be beneficial to offer a visual plan for the kids to see and feel a part of. One idea is to make a candy calendar for every day of the week. Choose a jar, have the child choose the number of candy pieces that were agreed on before Halloween, and put them in the jar. That is what they can have on that day. If you want to have a reward jar of candy that you choose and place in there, the child can earn extra pieces for that day as positive reinforcement.
Proven Cognitive Strategies–Help Your Child Succeed
At The Cognitive Emporium, we provide parents with the solutions to help their smart but struggling children become confident, independent learners. When it comes to Halloween, many of these strategies can help your child with ADHD genuinely enjoy this holiday. With the five helpful tips provided, parents are armed with the tools to help their child succeed this October 31st.
If you believe your child is struggling academically or socially and traditional resources are not solving the problem, Kyra Minichan at The Cognitive Emporium can help. If you’re looking for the typical “tutor,”–that’s not Kyra. If you’re looking for someone to disrupt the traditional ways of treatment, you’ve come to the right place. Schedule a free 10-minute phone consultation with Kyra today.