Traveling often presents difficulties when you have a child with behavioral issues. During the holidays, travel can involve overnight stays with friends or relatives. If you prepare your hosts and your child for what to expect in advance, you can decrease the chances that behavioral issues will turn into big problems during the visit.
Brain Balance Achievement Center of Lake Worth has six great tips to ensure holiday happiness for these families.
1. Lay the groundwork
Walking children through each day of the trip, along with anticipated stressful moments, can mitigate some of that stress with familiarity. If the child is old enough to self-regulate, it can be particularly helpful for parents to suggest regulating activities associated with expected stressors, like planning books or movies to cope with a plane trip.
2. Be strategic with food choices
Food is an important component of many care plans, but it’s also important to make a vacation a treat when possible. Older children can often participate in mutual planning to stick with the nutrition routine except for predetermined points when they’ll be allowed to “break the rules.” However, younger children usually require strategic decisions from the parent, like a plan to adhere to “at-home” rules at the start of a trip, then gradually introducing off-plan treats as the vacation progresses.
3. Be straightforward with caregivers
Whether it’s relatives brought along to help out or third-party caregivers, like play area attendants, taking a break from direct parental supervision can be a relaxing respite for both parent and child. It’s important for parents to discuss all sensory concerns with caregivers beforehand, including plans for how to respond if the child has a breakdown or needs to be removed from a situation. Cell phones or simple two-way radios are a convenient way to let parents be called back immediately, when necessary.
4. Carry a sensory toolkit
If your child has a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), parents should always carry a backpack or satchel containing regulating and soothing items, along with snacks and simple diversionary entertainments. When children are old enough to self-regulate, it can be especially helpful to give them their own kit, which they can use as needed to cope with vacation stressors.
5. spend time outdoors
Researchers at the University of Illinois determined that playing outside in natural settings greatly reduces the symptoms of ADHD. If you’re trying to fill up vacation days, even in cooler weather, consider activities that take you into the great outdoors. If you’re planning a family vacation, consider going somewhere green rather than an over-stimulating amusement park or big city.
6. Find soothing activities for downtime
Downtime is important for any kid, but those with ADHD find it particularly hard to keep themselves entertained or, alternatively, to fall asleep when it’s time to rest. Offer them soothing activities when everyone’s taking a breather. Some good ideas include favorite board games or art projects that make use of washable paints or pipe cleaners.
Find out how your child can benefit from Brain Balance — schedule a comprehensive assessment today at our Lake Worth center. Call us today at (561) 429-4420 or visit Brainbalance.com