Parents of children with special needs are facing great challenges during the pandemic. Services such as special education teachers, reading specialists, classroom therapists are missing for these kids. On top of that, it’s tough to juggle supervising kids who struggle with learning, missing their friends, and sometimes sibling arguments with your own work or financial issues while trying to stay calm in the midst of all of the challenges and unknowns of COVID-19. Living with a child or teen with ADHD and/or a anxiety disorder is complicated enough without those added challenges.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to ease the stress and create a home structure that can work for everybody.
Before you get started, TiLT Parenting has some suggestions for homeschooling due to COVID-19 as well as a whole collection of podcasts and resources with helpful tips for parenting kids with ADHD and/or with anxiety disorder or learning disability.
Team effort is needed in order to create a structure that actually works. Set a family meeting to figure out a daily schedule that includes everyone’s needs. The day could be divided into blocks for studying, doing chores, fun activities and chilling out. Expect to adjust this along the way because kids with ADHD and LD often struggle to concentrate on one thing for too long. Follow these tips to help make your family’s plan and then post this in the kitchen.
- Set up formal study periods and make sure to include study breaks based on how long your child can focus. Offer incentives for completion of work and supervise your child while you work alongside your kid.
- It’s easy to keep kids involved when everyone in the family is doing chores together. Assign chores that your kids can do based on their ability. Your presence aids their focus and helps them accomplish tasks without drifting off.
- Set up screen and non-screen activity times. Gaming and social media are now their lifelines during this pandemic. Talk with your kids and plan for a certain amount of daily automatic screen time with bonus time. If you want your kids to have three hours of daily time on their devices outside of schoolwork, try giving them a baseline of 90 minutes. They can then earn bonus time based on completing schoolwork and chores.
- Exercise and do activities that will exert physical effort. Do fun activities like hide and seek, dancing, jumping jacks, biking. It’s important to get them moving because this will really help kids with ADHD with their follow through and initiation.
- Play with your kids. If you give them your attention freely and positively, then they won’t need to act up to get it.
- It’s ok to give your kids an extra half hour to get up or go to bed, especially for ADHD kids who often lack the motivation for things they don’t want to do. Extend wake-up and bedtime routines if you need to.
At the end of the day, the most important job of the parent is to connect with their kids at home and stay safe and healthy. Go and get creative, and remember to take care of yourself so you’ll be available to take care of others.