Halloween tips for Parents of kids with ADHD

27 Oct Halloween tips for Parents of kids with ADHD

IMG_6747-300x225Halloween is fast approaching as you can see by the drawings on our office chalkboards (thanks to all the kids who drew us some spooky masterpieces!)

Like all children, kids with ADHD can’t wait to head out into the evening looking for ghostly adventure! To help you make the most of the spookiest night of the year here are some halloween tips for parents of kids with ADHD courtesy of Possibilities’ own Dr. Almagor.

First – remember – Halloween is supposed to be about having fun. Let your child enjoy Halloween. The last thing you want is to let them feel excluded because they have ADHD. If you’re worried about candy overload remember there’s more to Halloween than candy. Focus on the costumes, the decorations, the stories, the adventure of being out and about after dark – for some kids this is the coolest thing of all.

Second – Take a moment to get in the right headspace… as a parent you’re probably focusing on all the challenges (aka hassles) the night presents like buying the candy, getting costumes together, leaving the office on time… you’re exhausted and you haven’t even knocked on the first door yet! The best way to handle the stress is to have a plan. Take the opportunity to work with your child to plan and strategize about what’s going to happen on Halloween; what is and isn’t acceptable. If you do, you’ll not only take some of the stress out of the evening, you’re actually be teaching them important lessons about delayed gratification, impulse control, and sharing.

Now let’s go through some of the basics…

Children with ADHD may be inattentive to dangers and impulsive. Because Halloween involves traveling in the dark and crossing streets and roads, it’s a great opportunity to speak to your children about road safety.

  • Only cross at intersections
  • Visit houses on one side of the street and then the other… no zigzagging back and forth.
  • Make sure to look both ways.
  • Stay together – no going off by themselves.
  • Have something bright on their costume – reflector tape is a terrific idea.
  • Bring a flashlight.
  • Use a map to set out limits as to where they are allowed to go and spell out areas of neighborhoods or houses, which might not be safe.

OK – now it’s time to talk candy – or maybe that should be CANDY!

Who doesn’t love candy? But even at Halloween – especially at Halloween – the credo should be everything in moderation – especially moderation.

  • ALLERGIES: Before they head out for the evening it’s important to review any food allergies rules with your child. What they might remember on a normal day might be forgotten in the fun of the night. Even if it means an eye roll and an “I know Mom!” the time is well spent.
  • NO TREAT SNEAKING: Review the ground rules (the ones that you both agreed to previously) – make an agreement with your kids that they won’t dig into their bags of goodies until they get home. Make sure they understand the rules about when and how much candy they will be allowed when they get home and in the days to come.
  • SUGAR: Many parents with children of ADHD are concerned about sugar intake, but the evidence doesn’t indicate a real link. There are anecdotal reports of a connection, however, so it’s up to you to use your best judgment. You know your child best. It’s important to note, however, that sugar intake should actually be managed for other reasons including dental and diet. No surprise but on average North American sugar intake is too high.
  • DYES: While there is no evidence connecting sugar to increased ADHD symptoms, there does seem to be some association between food dyes and an increase in ADHD symptoms. Most candies will contain artificial dyes and this could be something to consider.
  • HEALTHY CHOICES: Some parents opt to give out healthy treats instead of the traditional miniature chocolate bars and bags of chips. Setting a good example for your neighbours or being a party pooper? Again – this is up to you but it is something to consider.
  • SHARING: How about using their haul as a way to teach a lesson about sharing. Kids could bring excess candy to a friend’s birthday party or split it with other family members like grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Now with all that being said – Happy Halloween from Dr. Almagor and the whole gang at Possibilities.

Have a spooktacular great time!