HOW TO DESIGN A HEALTHY HOME FOR KIDS WITH ADHD
A home designed with ADHD kids in mind helps them progress in nearly every area of their life from self-management to social interaction.
Creating a healthy environment for children with ADHD typically means creating a well-organized and structured place to live and play.
Every child is unique, and each child may respond to the challenges of ADHD differently, so there’s no one size fits all structure that will work with every child and every family. However, there are a few building blocks you can use to create the foundation.
ENCOURAGE RELAXATION BY DESIGNING SOOTHING SPACES
Busy spaces create busy minds, even for those who don’t deal with ADHD or any other sensory processing issues. Help build a positive environment in your home by eliminating the things that can foster anxiety in kids with ADHD.
3 WAYS TO CALM THE MIND WITH SPACE
First, take a look at the color of your child’s bedroom. The color of their room may contribute more to their mood than you or they realize. If you’ve got any brash colors or even a bright white, consider choosing a new color together. Warm earthy tones (greens, muted browns, etc.) and calm blues are often good options because they are soothing.
Second, look for ways to eliminate distractions in their room. Keep only the toys they love in their room and either move the rest to a play room or keep them hidden away in storage spaces. Don’t forget to minimize electronics including TVs, video game consoles, and tablets. Keeping electronic devices in their room negatively impacts sleep quality, which often turns into disruptive behavior and more anxiety during the day.
Finally, ligthing is often overlooked because we tend to take it for granted. But soft lighting can have a very soothing effect. Jeff Dross, Director Of Education for Kichler Lighting, says you can accomplish this by “dimming an incandescent light source, which helps reduce the harshness”.
We recommend multiple clear glass pendant light fixtures when possible. By spreading the source of light out over multiple fixtures you will create a dramatic but subtle soothing effect.
DECLUTTER TO REDUCE ANXIETY
You’re laughing, and that’s fair. It’s not enough your child can turn into an F3 tornado, but you’re supposed to keep the house extra clean for them, too?
If you haven’t already, start organizing your house room-by-room so the task doesn’t feel overwhelming. Our house was so bad we took it a step further and focused on a different surface a day. Day 1 was the living room floor, day 2 was the playroom floor, day 3 was the kitchen countertops. You get the idea. Create a system where everything has a clear, distinct place to be found and to return to.
Leading by example around the rest of the house can not only help by reducing the noise they find around them, but it can teach them the value of doing this in their own spaces, like their bedroom, their school locker, and eventually their dorm room or apartment.
DESIGNATED QUIET AREAS MAKE IT EASIER TO RELAX
Kids with ADHD need a place in your home where they can find peace and quiet – and privacy – to deal with their emotions, to grow, and to develop as people.
A quiet area can be room or even just a corner in the house that is free of major distractions. It might be their bedroom, a porch, or any other area not regularly frequented by parents, siblings or visitors.
Do not make their quiet area a place they go for a time-out. The two spaces must remain distinct to avoid confusing punishment with relaxation.
MAKE A CHALKBOARD WALL TO POST THE DAILY ROUTINE
If you haven’t already created a daily routine, sit down and start drafting one. Daily routines set limits and provide limited choices and predictable consequences that make the world feel more manageable.
For example, set a designated snack time and limit the choice of snacks available to two options. So, at 4:15 PM, your child can choose between string cheese or an apple.
You’ll also want to structure daily habits that you want to encourage. Chores should be listed and scheduled on the wall; at 3:30 it’s time to do their homework and at 4:30, it’s time for screen time. Use clocks and times as a reminder.
It may seem rigid now, but the goal of these schedules isn’t to force them to conform to expectations but to provide a guide for them to learn to manage their own lives as they grow up and begin to face the complexities that come with it.
REIGN IN THEIR HIGH ENERGY BY KEEPING THEM BUSY IN AND OUT OF THE HOME
You know what they say about idle hands. Too much unscheduled, idle time can send their symptoms into overdrive and result in chaos at home.
Keeping them busy is an important part of helping them develop, and it’s a good opportunity to help them work on other skills, like social ones.
Sign them up for sports, classes, or activities outside of school. These don’t need to be expensive hobbies; though, if they find a hobby they love, it’s important to encourage it. There’s probably a wide variety of free activities in your neighborhood or city that you haven’t explored yet.
Local community centers, kids’ clubs, and churches often offer activities for kids at minimal or even no fees. Keeping them busy at home is important, too, which is why a schedule is important. Involving them in everyday tasks is a good way to keep them busy, but don’t forget to find ways to incorporate their outside activities in the home, too.
If you have the space to set up an area where they can bring what they’ve learned at school or at classes home, set one up. Even if you transform the kitchen table for a specific hour every day, you’ll be able to continue to foster learning at home while promoting development.
STRUCTURE IS KEY TO AN ADHD FRIENDLY HOME
You’ve probably noticed a running theme throughout this article: structure around the house.
Whether you’re talking about a schedule, falling asleep, or keeping your home tidy, it’s the underlying structure of these things that help design a healthy home for kids with ADHD.
By creating an environment that helps kids relax and figure out where they need to be and when, you’re helping them cope with the challenges presented by ADHD. Moreover, you’re helping them build healthy habits that they’ll carry on as they grow and become more independent.
Written by: Jane Sandwood