7 Ways to Tackle ADHD Challenges
Children with ADHD struggle with a wide range of self-regulating skills including focus, organization, recalling short-term memory on demand, and regulating impulsive emotions and actions.
Although medication is often considered the go-to solution for treating ADHD, not all experts agree. There are a number of ways to manage the less desirable symptoms of ADHD while providing a highly effective long-term foundation.
1) Get Organized
Unfortunately when we get busy, one of the first things to go to the wayside is organization! Organization is an invaluable tool to help your child learn self-regulating skills.
Use a calendar to organize family schedules, activities, school events and more.
Place the calendar in a visible area and refer to it frequently.
Teach your child the power of organization.
Evidence suggests a clean space promotes calm and restorative energy. Ask yourself, is all this clutter necessary? De-cluttering can be an emotional process, so break it up into smaller bite-sized tasks!
Toss out broken items, old magazines, and other non-essentials.
Donate old clothes, toys and books.
Splurge on cute containers and new shelving to organize each room!
3) Provide a Healthy Diet
A study by UCLA showed that a diet high in fructose (sugar) slows the brain and negatively impacts memory and learning. Conversely, DHA (omega-3's) and protein are essential to brain function and can help minimize damage. Keep it simple, but healthy!
Granola cereal with blueberries and walnuts.
Peanut butter and honey on whole-wheat bread with a banana.
Baked chicken with green salad and fresh fruit.
4) Create Routines
Getting an ADHD child out the door on time can feel like herding cats! Therefore, a little preparation can go a long way. Create a morning and evening routine to keep your child focused and eliminate the last minute scramble.
ADHD kids are visual, so provide a written routine and hang it in a highly visible area.
Designate a space for each child's backpack, shoes, coat and sports equipment.
If your child has a hard time remembering his/her school items, place a checklist on the wall above their bag!
5) Refocus Energy
Finding healthy ways to redirect a child's energy can provide multiple benefits, especially if extracurricular activities reinforce self-regulating skills.
After school sports, clubs and academic programs.
Local youth center programs such as the YMCA and Scouts.
Outdoor activities including swimming, hiking, rock-wall climbing and bike riding.
6) Encourage Downtime
Similar to the body, the brain needs rest to function properly. Helping a child learn to self-regulate with downtime is crucial to improve focus. Eliminate screen-time at least one hour before bed as blue light inhibits melatonin production, which in turn interferes with a child's ability to sleep.
Create a dedicated reading or drawing time at least 30 minutes prior to bed.
A bath with epsom salts (magnesium) can help relax a child's body and mind.
Create a calming atmosphere in child's room with lamps, soft blankets and no technology!
7) Prioritize Sleep
A study by Dalhousie University discovered that sleep deprivation can occur with as little as one hour less of sleep per night, negatively impacting a child's ability to focus and learn.
Provide a minimum of 10 hours of sleep for children under 12, and a minimum of 8 hours of sleep for older children.
Create and stick to a dedicated sleep routine.
Magnesium can help offset insomnia so speak with your doctor to determine if this could be a good option for your child.
To Medicate or Not?
Medication may be deemed a necessary part of your child's treatment plan, but we encourage parents to first implement the 7 tools outlined above while simultaneously working with your doctor to rule out allergies, nutritional deficiencies, sleep disorders and food sensitivities. Research shows that these issues can mimic ADHD symptoms; therefore it is best to get to the root of your child's symptoms.
A whole-child approach is not the easy route, but it is the most reliable long-term approach to helping your child learn to manage his/her own ADHD symptoms.
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