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Parenting during COVID-19 is challenging for most parents but it can be even more so for parents who have children with special educational needs. Besides the parents, children themselves may also be experiencing these times as challenging. Some of these challenges include: adapting to being at home most of time, not meeting peers, doing academic work in an unstructured setting and focusing.

One of the groups of children who may be experiencing struggles during this time are those diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children who are hyperactive struggle to remain seated for long periods and need to move constantly. Previously, they might have engaged in extracurricular activities such as football to use up their energy. Since such activities have been suspended and going outdoors is not encouraged, for these children, remaining indoors can be quite a challenge. The following are some indoor activities that can help children remain active.

Scavenger hunt – Find several items and hide them well around the house. Then, give your child a list of these items and tell him/her to go and find them. If you hide them well, this activity will keep your child busy and active for quite some time. Depending on their age, you can make it more challenging e.g. creating riddles to guess what the item is before looking for it.

Balloon volleyball – Blow up a balloon and with a piece of tape mark the ‘net’ on the floor. You can play this game with your child or else they can play by themselves. If so, tell them that the balloon cannot touch the floor so they have to run from one end of the ‘net’ to the other to catch it.

Dancing contest – Put a playlist which contains some energetic music and make a game with your child called ‘dance off’ where everyone has to dance to the music. You can include props to make it more fun. This activity will surely involve a lot of energy.

Jumping – As simple as this sounds, jumping is one of the activities that uses up a lot of energy. To make it fun you can use equipment such as a trampoline, skipping rope or bouncing ball. You can also create a game such as; telling your child to pretend they have to jump like a kangaroo for 7 times and then say another animal and number of times they have to jump.

The above are a few suggestions which can help your child with ADHD to remain active indoors. The aim is for them to use up energy which if unused, will keep them hyper throughout the day. These and other activities may need to be repeated through the day since their energy levels can easily build up again. Following intense activities, introduce some calming activities such as lying down on cushions listening to relaxing music.

During such times your child might have more frequent tantrums and meltdowns. Remember that your child may also be struggling during these times and not just you. Choose your battles wisely otherwise you are going to feel drained and stressed out. Just try your best and be kind to yourself, reach out for help if you need it.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.