Written by Pat Pughe-Parry Pat Pughe-Parry
Last Updated: 16 June 2017 16 June 2017

thumb rhysfam1How have you survived the first couple of weeks of the school holidays? Only 1 week to go you keep thinking. "I can do this, I know I can ....."

The children may be on holiday and you might have taken leave too. Yes, I know they have driven you to take leave of your senses.

No-one said Parenting is easy, they just didn't tell you how hard it actually is. I have put together some activities that you can do as a family and build some really strong bonds which will provide them with great life skills.

Here are some facts about ADHD which influence the activities I have suggested.

It is a paradoxical condition that affects between 7 – 10% of any population.

At one extreme you have the hyperactives who are always on the go exploring their surroundings and causing chaos. At the other end of the spectrum, are the day-dreamers who are most at home in their heads rather than participating in the world around them. In between are the majority who flit between being hyperactive and day-dreaming.

MomBabyWhichever type of ADHD child you have, you can be sure that bringing them up is going to be a challenge. You will need to be prepared to change activities regularly to avoid the boredom factor.

Despite any learning difficulties, ADHD children are usually 2 to 3 years ahead of their peer group intellectually. But they are also 2 to 3 years behind emotionally. Low self esteem is inevitable due to constant failure and poor social skills. Sensory issues which include food textures, sensitivity to light, loud noises, smells and clothing all contribute to making life more complex.

Building a track record of success increases their self esteem. As they become more self confident they become less anxious, better able to cope in social situations and more willing to participate in group activities. This is important because when they enter the working world they have to be able to communicate with others.

Society does not encourage failure and those with ADHD fail more than most. This article will help you understand. When you repeatedly fail at something you withdraw and refuse to try. Parents of ADHD children will frequently make excuses for the children or do the task for them instead of encouraging them to try again.

ADHD medication, special schooling and other treatments are very expensive so I have focused on inexpensive or free activities that families can do together that will build necessary life skills while having a lot of fun.

1. Feed their curiosity

All children are born curious. Don’t knock the “Why” out of them. Exhausting I know. Challenge them to think, look up the answers for themselves, build a model, let them conduct various experiments ... under your supervision. Yes, your home will be untidy and chaotic.

farming2. Gardening with a twist

Introduce them to permaculture or hydroponics. Let them make compost, nurture a worm farm. Give them a patch of garden to cultivate. They must find out what will grow, what nutrients are required, when to plant etc. There is nothing like the satisfaction of picking tomatoes, washing them and putting them in a salad for the family to appreciate. Trips to the nursery are free and wonderful places to explore. A few hours in the Botanic Gardens gives them space to run and explore.

3. Cooking

Most of the top chefs in the world either have ADHD or display many ADHD characteristics. Cooking is a great way to teach planning skills. Choose a theme based on hero or country and help your child to look for recipes either in recipe books or on the internet. Give them a budget and let them make up the shopping list. Take them shopping so they learn to find the ingredients, read the labels and calculate the cost. The children must do the food prep, cook (they are more capable than you think), set the table, serve and help with the washing up. Future spouses will be forever grateful.Teaching Children to Cook

4. Explore our universe and beyond

Elon Musk is a famous South African who has invented the Space X rocket which takes supplies and crew to and from the International Space Station (ISS) 

There are many inspiring and thrilling videos on the ISS to watch with your children. It will challenge their imagination. You can even get sms’s or mobile apps telling you when the Space Station is overhead your home. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach them about our universe. If there is a planetarium near you plan a visit.

5. Reading

Reading is often a huge problem for those with ADHD yet it is the greatest gift you can give anyone. Join your local library even if you do have good internet access. Albert Einstein, who was diagnosed with ADHD, said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Make it fun and take turns to read out loud paragraph by paragraph. Look up words online or in a dictionary. You can listen to the proper pronunciation which will save them embarrassment when they have to read in class.

Encourage their communication skills by creating movies, scripts or play charades.

6. Hobbies

Fine motor skills are frequently poor so hobbies like model building, beading, colouring in, will often frustrate them. Instead do big bold stuff such as sculptures or pottery.

GarageBand7. Music

Form a family band if you are musically inclined. Who knows there might be a Michael Jackson lurking there? There are lots of open air concerts to attend. Choose instruments with care if you have sensitive ears.

8. Out and about

Spend time with your children exploring rock pools, hiking, cycling, or even walking around your neighbourhood.

The ADHD sense of direction is notoriously poor. Before going out either print out a Google Map or use a map book and get them to plot the trip whether you are driving to the shops, walking or going on a long journey. Let them act as navigator so they learn how to read a map.

Find out about Geocaching. Sophisticated and high tech treasure hunting for the whole family. All you need is a Smartphone or GPS.

9. Technology

Buy inexpensive electronic kits like Raspberry Pi and build computers or other gadgets. Visit Instructables where there is an endless supply of weird and wonderful things to build and create.

10. Home

All children need to do chores and for ADHD children it is essential that they feel part of the united family. Teach them to change a plug, hang a picture, paint their bedrooms, sew, knit, do basic plumbing and carpentry repairs etc. Don’t criticise and let them make mistakes. Perfection is not the goal.


Daily life is very overwhelming for those with ADHD. It is like a pressure cooker about to explode. Don’t fill every hour of the day with activity. Give them time to dream and to relax and to reflect on who they are.

Know The Jargon - ADHD Acronyms

ADDer - a person who has ADHD or ADD

ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder

SCT - Sluggish Cognitive Tempo - a new name for ADD

ODD - Oppositional Defiance Disorder

CD - Conduct Disorder

OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

 Bi-polar - Bi-polar Disorder, used to be Manic-Depression 

SPD - Sensory Processing Disorder

PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder

ACT -  Action Consequence Trigger - monitoring forms devised and supplied by Living ADDventure®