Updated 15 February 2019

5 ways to keep your child with ADHD calm this festive season

Keeping a child with ADHD calm over Christmas might be difficult, but not impossible.

The festive season is a time of excitement and also disrupted routines. If you have a child with ADHD, you can make life easier for everybody, and prevent a meltdown.

It might just take some patience and some planning (and if your child is on medication, make sure you don’t run out when the pharmacy might be closed).

Read:WATCH: Can coffee cause ADHD?

The Focus MD Clinic gives the following tips:

1. No surprises. Tell your child exactly what social events are being planned, what will happen at them, where they will be, and who will be there. Make sure there is enough time in between them for your child to rest.

2. Role-play receiving gifts. Your child might find this stressful. Give some guidance on what to do if she gets something she doesn’t like, something she likes. Or something she already has.

3. Practise meeting and greeting. Rehearse meeting new people, making eye contact and what to say when. Keep it simple. Stress to the child that she doesn’t have to say much, but practice the basics.

4. Watch what your child eats. You know which foods don’t agree with your child. Keep an eye on what she is eating. If necessary, take some favourite snacks with you if you are going to be in an unfamiliar setting.

5. Stick to routine as far as possible. Many children with ADHD react badly to routines that are disrupted. Try and stick to the familiar schedules as far as you can.

Read more:

ADHD – from Hippocrates to Ritalin

How to manage ADHD these holidays

From 8 to 80! ADHD has no age limit


Ask the Expert

ADHD Expert

Dr Renata Schoeman has been in full-time private practice as a general psychiatrist (child, adolescent and adult psychiatry) since 2008, currently based in Oude Westhof (Bellville). Renata also holds appointments as senior lecturer in Leadership (USB) and as a virtual faculty member of USB Executive Development’s Neuroleadership programme. She serves on the advisory boards of various pharmaceutical companies, as a director of the Psychiatric Management Group (PsychMG) and is the co-convenor of the South African Society of Psychiatrist (SASOP) special interest group for adult ADHD, and co-founder of the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation ( She is passionate about corporate mental health awareness and uses her neuroscience background to assist leaders in equipping them to become balanced, healthy and dynamic leaders that take their own and their team’s emotional, intellectual, social health and physical needs into account. Renata is academically active and enjoys research and collaborative work, has published in many peer-reviewed journals, and has presented at local and international congresses. She is regularly invited to present at conferences and to engage with the media. During her post-graduate studies, she trained at Harvard, Boston in neurocognition and neuroimaging. Her awards include, amongst others, the Young Minds in Psychiatry award from the American Psychiatric Association, the Discovery Foundation Fellowship award, a Thuthuka award from the NRF, and a MRC Fellowship. She also received the Top MBA student award and the Director’s award from USB for 2015. She was a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year Award for 2016, and received the Excellence in Media Work award from SASOP during 2016.

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