ADHD and children’s parties

I remember when my son was very young (primary school) and he had a lovely circle of energetic pals. He wanted to do everything and be everywhere.  His friends were mostly the same, to a greater or lesser degree, and we spent happy evenings at cubs, swimming, football practice, all the usual!

Being a December-born child, his birthday party had to be an indoor affair.  When he was the ripe old age of 4, I realised that this might be the last time that I could accommodate the rough and tumble of a predominantly boys’ party in my house.  They needed space and it showed – all the children were lively, it’s exciting to be at a party and let off some happiness.

But one of my son’s little friends (we’ll call him Joe) stood out above the others.  He was a little dynamo, far more active and chatty than all the others, and often caused minor scuffles as he ricocheted around our small house on a couple of wintry birthday parties.  We played party games such as musical chairs and some dancing.  Then to calm things down we used to do creative activities like biscuit icing (if you’ve never done that, where have you been??) and play sleeping lions, musical statutes and pass the parcel.

But Joe was only able to enjoy those games which kept him busy busy busy.  Sleeping lions was an impossibility, and pass the parcel just exacerbated his lively impatience and his inability to sit still.  He would rip open the paper, taking several layers at once, and be on the receiving end of everyone’s upset.

And the party food and cake just made it worse.  Poor Joe, he often would get left out of the invitation list because he was just too much to handle.  His attendance at all our parties was a given though, and so when I switched to activity parties – trampolining, football, swimming etc he absolutely was in his element.

My top tips for your ADHD indoor party guests:

  • Ensure there are ways for the child to exert some energy

  • Create tasks for them to do to ensure they feel included and are kept busy

  • Keep them away from sugary drinks and food until you can cope with the outcome (from all of the children!)

  • Enlist the help of other parents

  • Say what you want the child to do and keep repeating (rather than using “don’t do that” and “why are you doing that”)

  • Praise when the child is doing what they should be doing

  • Stick to maximum 2 or 2½ hours (everyone wilts after that)

  • Enjoy a nice glass of wine afterwards

What are your top tips?