How to survive summer with ADHD child? - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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How to survive summer with ADHD child?

Adam081911 profile image

Hi everyone.... I just wanted to ask everyone how your summer is going with your ADHD child.... I have an almost 7 y.o. son diagnosed with ADHD. I don't work during the summer and he goes to half day summer camp 2-4 days per week.

Thankfully he likes this summer camp and it's a huge help for my mind.

Last 2 days, he didn't have a camp and I stayed with him all day and I snapped at him on both days.... Today was the 2nd day with him....

I was soooo afraid of summer break due to lots of fights with him, disobey, and embarrassing me in the public....

I can't even survive 1 day with him not being upset..... I'm almost at tears....

Both days he was medicated.

Any parent I asked, all of them are having good summer with their kids, but me....

As a mom, I should be thinking how to make summer fun for both of us, but I don't have energy for that. Since I don't drive, I don't have motives to take him too far from home. Is it really just me feeling of staying with own child becomes like an unpleasant thing to do?

I sound like an awful mom, but I wanted to get it out of my chest on this site. Also curious about other families who has ADHD child(ren).

Thanks for reading.

19 Replies

I feel you, last year I didn't have a plan during their summer break, my two kids stayed home, no camps, no nothing. While I was at work, I gave them things to do, but it was rough. When we went on vacation it was even rougher. This year summer break, I planned ahead of time. My oldest went to stay with my mother two days after school got out about eight hours away, the youngest went to day camp five days a week ( I had my moments with him after work but no where near last year). Even though school starts 8/6, I'm already planning what to do for next summer break. Here are somethings you may want to do for next summer if you find yourself in the same predicament, the library have several summer prgm for the days he is not in camp, projects, my son loves cars, so I purchased glue and got a card board for him to make one, anything that will capture his attention for hours and hours (besides video games) these might work if you find yourself closed in with your son. I'm thinking about putting my sons back into Boys Scouts, they do a lot over the summer break, For my youngest, he will age out of the after school summer camp ( 13), I may look at the YMCA . But whatever it is , I will have it map out.

Adam081911 profile image
Adam081911 in reply to

Thank for being the first reply. I thought no one will reply to my post to be honest with you... I'm grateful.

I had another day today with him, being angry....

He was supposed to go to camp today, but since my husband couldn't drop him off in the morning and the camp is so far from home (1 hour and a half by transit), also I had to wake up at 6:30pm, killing my time for 4 hours there, I decided to skip the camp. My husband stayed with him till 12pm then took off to work.

Last year, I enrolled him in a summer school which was just to see how things will go, and ended up that I had to stay with him the whole time. That was exhausting and decided not to do it again. This year, I enrolled him in a special needs therapeutic summer camp. I'm glad I chose this camp. He likes it and wants to go more. So July went by so quick. I made the right choice.

This fight between us started 1-2 weeks ago....

My triggers are him not eating meals (due to his meds) and walk away and avoid his math work....

I shouldn't take his behaviours personally especially his low appetite is due to his meds.... but I get so mad when he only eats a couple of bites and walk away after my effort....

I take anti depressant meds. I think it's time for me to talk to my doctor to up the dose because I can't get over what happened the day before and still feel angry about it.

Thanks for your advise about the library program and find things to occupy himself for hours. We don't have much plans last 2 weeks of August, so I really should plan for those weeks.... I feel anxious though.

Hang in there. I have to ask how your son does at camp with the meds, Does he give them challenges as well or just you? My son goes the summer camp 3 days a week and I work at home the other 2 days so he stays home with me. As long as he takes his meds, we have no issues, I also make sure I overlap the meds so he’s not completely out of his 1st dose before I give him his 2nd dose. Definitely agree having activities planned out helps and get his feedback as well on things he would like to do. Our area usually have cheap money vies and bowling available, as well as a nice Children’s museums.

Adam081911 profile image
Adam081911 in reply to Ldydy24

Thanks for your reply. My son is okay in the camp. I haven't been told any challenging behaviours with instructors. As this camp is for special needs kids, also he is one-on-one, that makes everything easier for him. He only takes morning pill (short release). Since his appetite gets lower, he doesn't want to eat his lunch at camp.... sometimes even dinner. We don't give him the 2nd dose for that reason.

The other day, he had a speech therapy at home for 1-1/2 hours. After the therapy was done, I gave him lunch but didn't eat.... I was frustrated. Then told him a plan for the rest of the day. I wanted him to do bicycle practice, but he told me he doesn't want to do it, then he said he has an headache (I'm not sure if it was true or not.) So didn't go out the rest of the day..... He wanted to stay at home but not sure what to do. So I chose scissors activity even he wasn't keen on it.

Maybe like you said, I should include him in a decision making to plan for the day.

He wants to be the boss. He wants to be in control.

Ldydy24 profile image
Ldydy24 in reply to Adam081911

Thanks for sharing. He may be angry and irritable due to a lack of food and low blood sugar. I find that with my son as he’s coming down off the meds and getting him to eat something (even something sugary) helps stabilize his mood. ADHD meds do suppress the appetite and some more than others. My son takes Focalin and he’s starving when he wakes up so I get a good breakfast in him then he picks throughout the day given the meds, at the end of the day he will eat dinner but doesn’t get real hungry until later in the night. Don’t get upset if your son nibbles on something and walks away. I find mine eventually comes back and eats it. They just won’t eat on a normal schedule like us due to the meds. He will eat when he’s hungry. I know it’s hard. I would recommend discussing the meds with your sons dr. You may want to consider a change if he won’t eat at all even after the pill is out if his system. If you find the right meds and give the short acting dose at least 2xs a day I think you would find things much easier, My son would argue with me if he didn’t have meds. You didn’t say how old your son is. Mine is 13 and does not like me telling him what to do off meds. On meds I get agreement but he does voice his opinion more so I’m trying to loosen up and let him make more choices, it helps the battles.

Adam081911 profile image
Adam081911 in reply to Ldydy24

Thank you for sharing your experience. It was a good reminder.

Yesterday, he had a tutor. He is going to turn 7 in a couple of weeks. He's going to Grade 2 in September. He had an excellent 1 hour session with the tutor.

We gave him breakfast and took a short release pill at 10am, then tutor session started at 10:30am.

We left home to go to Walmart to get some stuff for camping. It was around 12pm.

I gave him a choice of IHOP or Tim Horton's (we live in Canada. It's a sandwich & doughnut place.) to eat lunch. He said he is not hungry and just wanted to watch us eat. So we decided to do shopping at Walmart first. At the end of shopping, he was yelling claiming that parents won't feed him! He was quite loud at the lineup. Both my husband and I were so upset.... I kept explaining that we did shopping first because he said he wasn't hungry. But at this moment, I think he wasn't listening....

I don't know which way to go about sugar. Some people on this group say stay away from sugar. Not even have junk food at home. We keep some of those to get his cooperation going to a grocery store. But, like you mentioned, when I give him a candy, he can tolerate of people talking voice & laughing (he is very sensitive about this), and better mood. If I have given him a candy at Walmart, probably he didn't behave like this. I can't decide yet, sugar is ok or not.

As for dinner time, thanks for reminding me that it's ok if he walks away and come back later to eat. He is our only child. When I was learning from parenting workshop (I forgot where I got this idea from) when he was a toddler that only let him eat at mealtime or snack time, not letting the child leave the table and come back later. So for a long time, that sticked my mind. You're right. His eating time is different than ours. I should be more flexible.

Like your son, my son argues a lot without meds and listens and more flexible on meds. Thanks for your suggestions about meds but as for now, I'll let him stay with this meds. I'll keep an eye on pros and cons.

Thanks! I feel like you spoke about my day!

I can totally sympathize... Our son has been having the worst summer and we are totally losing it at this point. He has been getting in trouble every day at camp... he started fighting and continues previous issue of cursing, or he is just disrespectful to the counselors and won't move from a bench forcing someone to come and pick him up, or he throws out his lunch and claims we didn't give it to him... it's exhausting, especially since we work full time and these constant issues are jeopardizing our jobs (no one likes their employees to just leave in the middle of the day to solve a crisis every single day). Yesterday he finally got kicked out because he hit another kid on the leg with a golf club. The violence is new... it just started these past weeks. He is on medication, sees a therapist once a week, we implemented chores and reward charts but nothing works in preventing outbursts and bad behavior. We are now looking to see if ABA therapy can work for him and looking into a different approach called CPS. He takes so much out of us... we have three other kids and two of those also have special needs... but he is the only one that just is cruel and unsympathetic at times and I fear immensely for the upcoming school year (5th grade). All I can say is that if you need to let him play video games and watch TV to remain sane and calm then just let him on days when he is not in camp. If you can look into a therapist to come to the house then that might help. Is there an option for play dates or spending a day at grandparents? Hang in there!

Adam081911 profile image
Adam081911 in reply to ElinaK35

Thank you for your reply and I'm also sorry to hear what you and your son are going through.

I talked to my sister about my struggles with my son. She also said, if he wants to watch cartoons, let him.... She doesn't have kids but she learned enough about my son from my stories. Sadly, my family lives in Japan and I can't get help from my husband's side.... His mother passed away, and father is 87 so not reliable....

We have a babysitter but she can only come twice a month so I'm saving those days that I really need her.... (taking him to taekwondo lesson, etc...)

He had a play date today. We're good friends as a family. We're actually going for camping together next week. I'm going to ask the mom if we can do more play dates regularly.

I fully understand. My son started to unravel once the summer got in full swing. Then I read somewhere the children with ADHD thrive better in the school year rather than the summer because of the tricker schedule. I know as a parent, I tried to be a little more lax than usual because it's the summer. But quickly went back to his school schedule with some energy exhausting activities for him. I will say that next year I will be looking for a camp with a lot of activities for him to enjoy that will make his summer more enjoyable and a little bit easier for me

Adam081911 profile image
Adam081911 in reply to Chyna826

Thanks for your reply. I want to ask you.... Do you stay at home with your son during the summer? How did you put his school schedule back in place? Like, waking up the same time, doing school work, same lunch time, etc?

How did you pick energy exhausting activities? Do you pick the activities or your son?

Is he happy with those choices made for him?

Chyna826 profile image
Chyna826 in reply to Adam081911

Currently I have a full time job. He goes to camp during the day. He wakes up and goes to bed at the same time everyday. I even bought some workbooks from the dollar store so he can do "homework" when he gets home from camp.

I did stay home with my son for 2 years. And I made sure he woke up and went to sleep at the same time everyday. He did "homework" and th playground everyday as well. The homework was to help with focus and the playground was more for my sanity but it exhausted alot of his energy.

I picked energy exhausting activities by signing my son up for my local YMCA. They have free memberships depending on your insurance and discounted memberships depending on your income. I had him try everything. Swimming, karate, gymnastics, basketball, Zumba for kids, etc. He loved swimming but honestly his lack of attention could of been dangerous in the water because he just wanted to play. He liked karate but it took months for him to get the focus that's needed so it was a little bit of a struggle. Gymnastics was the best for him. Running, rolling, flipping, jumping, etc. He came home tired every time. With the YMCA the activity sessions are once or twice a week for 6 to 8 weeks. So I would allow my son to switch or stay with an activity. I eould show him on a calender when we would go and when we would have the opportunity to switch again. Also because he loves football, I signed him up for our local community team, which is 3 to 4 days a week of practice and games.

My son is happy with his choices becauae they are things he enjoys. I am happy with them because he is worn out usually.

Other ideas, season passes to indoor water park (I get great use put of this year round and we go so often it pays for itself over and over), playground, kids gyms, sport teams, or even you randomly touching your child saying "TAG!" And Running away 😁😁.

I'm sorry I got so long winded. I hope this helps

Adam081911 profile image
Adam081911 in reply to Chyna826

Thanks for your answers. Sorry I wan't clear. Activities I was asking is while he was with you .

My struggles with him is mostly at home.

Do you play with him at home, choose games or arts & craft? this kind of activities.

Does your son cooperate doing "homework"?

It becomes a fight between us.... to do this kind of activities.

When I say, "let's make a plan. Let's do math then your game." I used to get agreements but not these days....

It's hard to do any school work with him. He avoids math by saying "I'm thirsty. I'm hungry." He says it AFTER I did his game. (Yes, we switched to his game first.)

It's been like this for a week. Exactly when I wanted to sit and start..... Even I let him eat and drink something, he won't do it all together....

Chyna826 profile image
Chyna826 in reply to Adam081911

Arts and crafts are always available and ready at my house... from paint, crayons, colored pencils, etc. Sometimes I turn to YouTube for a simple yet time consuming project. My son's favorite is how to draw tutorials. I give him the remote and he pauses and plays it until his drawing is done.

I try to take him out once a day. Soccer, football, etc. I'm not good at it at all but at least I exercise.

Chores keep him busy as well.

Legos work as well

When all else fail, video games and I have a love hate relationship.

I don't get too much of a fight if I give warnings. 10 to 15 mins work. It also works long term. For days I know my son has football practice, I warm him that morning that he may not have to to play a game or with toys because he will be getting home late.

I will say our son is 11 years old and we keep him busy, but not exhausted. He has said 3x, "I can't wait to get back to school". I think being away from friends and the schedule like people are saying it is really hard for him. I continue to work during summer and he has competitive sports, but it's not the same pace we are much slower.

But I know I am already pushing back his bed time and getting him up early so we are ready for early AM... I strongly encourage parents to structure their kids day, if that means 1/2 day out walk to the park or have a friend come over or do on on-line science lesson.. Something to not have a free day of nothing, for us that never works.

Thanks for your reply. Yes, I like structure myself and that's what he needs. My question is how strict schedule should I make and what should I do if he resists and disobeys my plans... I always believed in structure and having schedules but like I wrote above, if the plan was rejected by him, I get very frustrated. I am a type of person who wants to follow instructions and organizing but it's hard not to follow the schedule that I already made because my son doesn't want whatever I want to do with him.

I want to do some learning activities with him but he is not interested in those.... It's really hard when he says no to all of my options.....

You do not sounds like an awful mom. I used to feel like I was an awful mom too for having all of those same feelings. I start getting anxious when I’m on the way to pick him up from summer camp. One thing that helps us is that our routine at home never changes. He goes to all day summer camp so the location he spends his days is different but his summer camp is scheduled the same every week just like school. Having him busy helps. When we’re home we struggle, even on medication. Medication doesn’t make things great or “normal” for us it just makes my son and our situation manageable. Also remember that rarely does anyone share the true reality of their home life. I have had to stop comparing our family to any other family. I also stopped reading articles that were written for parents of average everyday children. None of that is realistic for us. It has helped me rein in my expectations to acknowledge and accept that our situation is different. I know what you’re feeling and I’m so sorry. This is just hard. Don’t beat yourself up too much.

Adam081911 profile image
Adam081911 in reply to Mudpies

Oh my god, thank you.... Your words reached to my heart and I came to tears.

Yes, I feel anxious when I know that I have to stay with him all day and feel more and more anxious when the day is coming closer... also it happens when I go pick him up from school. I think you understand this feeling....

It's much easier when he goes to camp half day, so I know he got 4 hours exercise and I don't have to do that. He always asks what are we going to do / where to go when I pick him up from camp. Sometimes tutor day, sometimes nothing planned.

My struggles are mostly at home as well. He is much easier in the public (more flexible).

Since my son showed developmental delays since 1-1/2 years old, we always had SLP, OT, PT, etc. I tried to do all the recommendations from therapists. Now not so much intense therapies, but more concerns about his numeracy skills. He finished Grade 1 but still not understanding the concept of addition.

Today, we had an appointment with his pediatrician for other reasons (to discuss about sleep issue, request of a formal letter of ADHD diagnosis to send to school etc.).

When I mentioned about fighting with him over math practice, she told me that I don't have to do ALL the work. Let the tutor help him and allow myself to be just a parent.

Also talked about fighting over meals. Over time, I was told how important to have a consistent schedule and structure and same routines, I tried to discipline him "It's dinner time, if he doesn't turn off TV, no dinner( just a threat)" Most of the time, he comes. He just eats a couple of bites. The pediatrician said, "Don't push it. If you do, he will completely turn off of eating. Let him come back when he is hungry." It makes sense but I really needed to hear from her since it against of structures and consistent routine.

But I feel at ease now..... Doctor is happy with his height and weight although he is little less weight than she would like.

Yep... the meds he takes makes the situation manageable although we still get our moments... Thank you for sharing your stories.

Thanks so much for posting this. Let me say, you are not an awful mom. The extreme stress we are under parenting a child or children with ADHD is immense and it's a miracle we don't snap or lose it more than we do. As for summer, I feel your pain. In the past I've been able to arrange summer camps for my kids but because of their age they've moved up into their teens and I wasn't able to find camps soon enough. As a result, they've been home all summer. I work very hard each day to make sure I'm taking care of myself so I can stay patient, but we all have our vulnerable times and triggers. Yesterday was one of those tough days for me and I found myself in tears. The hard part about that is I had to work harder today to be patient because my son was actually TRYING to get me to cry again. (He said so.) I have to remind myself again and again not to take it personally and to emotionally go in the opposite direction of where he's going . . . to stay calm in the middle of his storm.

I'm super grateful for this group because it reminds me over and over that the struggle we experience is real, we really are doing our best, and we can get through this one day at a time. We can do this!

Thank you for your reply and I'm sorry it took time to respond to you.

How do you take care of yourself? Patience is not my strength....

I'm also sorry to hear that you had a bad day:( I hope you're having a better day.

My day is really depends on my son's mood... We also have good days but it's getting harder these days.

After his doctor's appointment I feel much better though. His weight scale is around 10-15 percentile and I want to feed him up but it's not happening. His academic (especially math) is still Kindergarten level (He is going to Grade 2!) So I feel non visible pressure and probably I'm giving pressure on him too.... After doctor said, if I push him, he will completely shut down, I really have to back off. I just provide the opportunity and let the tutor do the math. I wanted to help him, but it's not working....

I'm also grateful of this group. We have different challenges but people understand the situation and have good ideas.

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