Family gatherings

At a Glance: Common Trouble Spots for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues at Family Gatherings

By Erica Patino

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Family gatherings can be stressful for kids with learning and attention issues—and for their parents, too. Find out how to troubleshoot common problems together.

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At a Glance: 3 Common Trouble Spots at Family Gatherings

Family gatherings can involve many people—and many expectations about kids’ behavior. That can make kids with learning and attention issues feel stressed out. Here’s how to handle some of the most common problems.

Some of your relatives don’t “get” your child’s issues.
Example: Last Thanksgiving when your child got restless and ran into a table, your aunt asked, “When is Nick going to grow out of this phase?” You dread having to deal with her this year.
What you can do: Remind yourself not to take her comments personally. If she says anything similar this year, calmly reply, “Aunt May, please don’t talk about Nick that way. You know he has ADHD. That means he has trouble sitting still for long stretches of time.”

Your child gets stressed out at noisy events with lots of people.
Example: Even more relatives than usual are coming to your parents’ Christmas celebration. Your child has sensory processing issues and is easily overwhelmed by noise.
What you can do: Pick a quiet spot, away from the action but not so far that your child will feel excluded. Explain that he can go there whenever he needs a break. You might also enlist another relative to be a “safe” person who will help your child if he feels overwhelmed.

Your child gets bored and cranky.
Example: Your grandfather is coming over for Passover. He often tells long-winded stories. Your child often gets bored and interrupts him.
What you can do: Have books and games out to occupy your child. It’s also a good idea to give him some tasks that will make him feel useful and important. Maybe he can help clear the table or serve people snacks.
Graphic of Family Gatherings: Common Trouble Spots and How to Avoid Them
Graphic of Family Gatherings: Common Trouble Spots and How to Avoid Them

About the Author

Portrait of Erica Patino

Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Sheldon Horowitz

Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D., is senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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