For this blog, I wanted to touch on a topic that is becoming more and more familiar- ADHD. I have seen an increase in questions from parents about ADHD, the need for tools and strategies to use at home, and a desire to get a school plan together for the new year. This increase is no surprise. According to the CDC, 6.1 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD. However, since this number is based on a survey in 2016, the number has most likely grown. Let’s discuss helpful tips for grounding ADHD.
ADD or ADHD?
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is usually diagnosed when a child displays difficulty with impulse control, self-regulation, or focusing on tasks. Hyperactivity in conjunction with ADD is diagnosed as ADHD.
Parents of children with ADHD struggle with a number of difficulties:
- How to help their child be successful.
- How to keep their high-energy child’s needs satisfied.
- How to set their kids up for success.
At times this feels like a daunting, if not impossible, task.
Are meds the right way to go?
Often, children with ADHD benefit from medication long-term. Stimulant medication can help slow their brains down and help them stay focused and in control at school. Understandably, some parents hesitate to put their children on medication. Building a relationship with a psychiatrist you can genuinely trust is really important when medicating your child.
Make a schedule and stick to it
That being said, children with ADHD need coping strategies and alternative behaviors to help them stay grounded and in control of themselves. Executive functioning and organizational skills will be challenging for them to keep up with, especially as they transition into young adulthood. Therefore, it is imperative to have visual cues, calendars, and reminders in place to help them stay on track.
Visual rules and structure are key. Even during the summer months, when the routine is off, it is essential to have a flow of the day with scheduled activities that do not revolve around screens. While we have often blogged about the harmful effects of frequent gaming and screen time, limiting videos and screens is even more critical when a child’s brain is predisposed to craving overstimulation and chaos. These kids are more likely to get angry and frustrated when they turn off their devices and more likely to form addictive behaviors around screen usage.
Things that can help right now
While it can be frustrating and difficult to transition your child with ADHD, the outdoors can be beneficial in helping them self-regulate their brains with bodies. Creating structured movement such as hiking, skiing, fishing, or swimming can help them move their bodies in a way that grounds them. In addition, the input they receive from being outside can create a calming environment for their brains. This can help them slow down and make better choices.
Diet is vital to consider when troubleshooting ADHD. Children’s brains crave sugar and foods that will give short, fast energy boosts. Try to steer clear from processed foods and sugars when possible, avoiding high fructose corn syrup, dyes, and preservatives. ADHD causes children’s brains to be highly sensitive to environmental triggers and stimuli, so they will react faster to these foods than a child without ADHD.
The take away
Children with ADHD tend to be passionate, intense, and driven children. They intensely focus on interests and have great memories and abilities around their interests. With the proper support and coping tools, they learn to thrive and use the strengths of their ADHD to their advantage. Teaching self-care techniques and healthy habits at a young age help set your child up for success.