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Birthday Party Tips for children with ADHD
Many years ago when my children were of that age I organized quite a few parties, I don't remember how many. In those days there were no theme parties or professional organizers to run children's parties for you.
At the time my kids got pretty hyper, they weren't as out of control as some, but, as I knew nothing about ADHD in those days, I was always perplexed about why mine got so excited while the neighbors could handle it so nicely.
Now I know that birthday parties can be a big problem for children with ADD or ADHD, and also for Moms who have ADD (ADHD). It's a made to order overwhelm situation. More people, more movement, more food than any of them are used to. Children who are hyper can go through the roof and if they are hypo they can disappear into space.
Here are some tips which could help you have a great birthday party with ADHD whether or not you are having a professional organizer do the work.
Before the party
1. Review the program for the party with your children before the big day so they know what to expect when. Children with ADHD can easily get lost when there are many things happening.
2. Have your birthday child draw a timeline for the party with pictures to illustrate each event on the program. Post it in the party room and during the party help him stay focused by referring to the time line.
Sugar does not cause ADHD, but we do know that a high intake of sugar can aggravate hyperactive behavior and even make some kids who are not really ADHD act hyper.
3. Serve some protein rich food such as tuna fish sandwiches before the ice cream and cake. Protein provides food for the brain to function better (not necessarily perfectly) and it will slow down the absorption of the sugar in the cakes and ice cream.
4. Consider having a carrot cake which provides fiber and carbohydrate to slow the absorption of pure sugar or a cream cheese cake which has protein.
5. Limit the amount of sugary treats. Give non food things as favors or prizes.
Many children with ADHD have difficulty making and keeping friends. A birthday party is an opportunity to practice some basic social skills for being accepted in a group.
6. Greeting guests. Some children just don't know how or forget under the stress of the moment. Rehearse in advance how to greet a guest. Smile, look the guest in the eyes, and say "Hi...... I'm glad you could come, and thanks for the present." On the big day, stay near-by so you can prompt him gently if necessary.
7. Taking turns. If your child has difficulty taking turns explain (maybe for the umpteenth time, repetition does get through eventually) why its important to respect the rules of a game. Talk about the game(s) you will play during the party.
8. Saying goodbye. By the end of the day, he's tired, you're tired, I wouldn't make a big deal about saying goodbye. Just " So long, thanks, see ya" or what ever is the parting expression in your neighborhood.
If you have a child who is inclined to be oppositional and knows what to do but does the opposite, tell him about Joey the Zebra who has no stripes. You will find Joey at home on my web site.
These ideas are not guaranteed and I haven't even tested them because I didn't know then what I know now. They are based on current knowledge of what works for managing ADHD. If you have some experiences, pro or con, I'd love to hear about them.
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