Creator of teacherspark.org
Behavioral therapy is vital for children with ADHD, and it should be prioritized over medicine in children ages 5 and younger. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that primary care clinicians prescribe parent- or teacher-administered behavior therapy before medicine is prescribed, and it should be an integral part of continued treatment.
The Multimodal Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Study from the National Institute of Mental Health reports behavioral therapy is especially crucial for improving academic performance and family relations. For parents interested in calming strategies for children with ADHD to reduce hyperactivity naturally, here are some ideas.
Break Away From the Screen
A 2014 study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found screen time and technology use increases attention problems, while The New York Times reported viewing television and playing video games is associated with subsequent attention problems from elementary school through college.
Give kids with ADHD something fun to do that doesn’t require watching a screen. Use such tools such as structured arts and crafts activities or education-based games such as BusyTeacher’s word puzzles to get attention focused on completing the project.
Teach Deep Breathing Exercises
ADHD expert and author Eileen Bailey recommends on HealthCentral to teach children with ADHD deep breathing or yoga techniques to help them be aware how to self-regulate when they’re on their own. Using meditative practices allows children with ADHD to relax their bodies and slow down their thoughts, and the techniques can be used at home, at school and in public.
While staying still can be instrumental in reducing ADHD symptoms, a 2014 study in Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found children who get one hour or more of physical activity each day saw the severity of ADHD symptoms decrease and experienced improved cognitive functioning. Motivate children with ADHD to enjoy exercise by finding physical activities they love that require concentration, from dance to karate to baseball.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Limit the intake of anything sugar-filled, including sodas, desserts and sugar-laden cereals, to improve both nutrition and focus. Also, make sure children with ADHD get adequate amounts of vitamins A, C and E. These antioxidants improve cognition and behavior symptoms by lowering inflammation and supporting cellular metabolic processes in the brain.
Engage All the Senses
ADDitude magazine recommends encouraging children with ADHD to use multiple senses when completing tasks, since they’re more likely to be fully engaged with whatever they’re doing. Turning duties such as chores into something more fun by singing songs while completing them helps the brains of ADHD children better organize time and space, while music improves memory and learning and helps children with ADHD stay more focused. During story time, encourage kids with ADHD to act out characters to get them more involved with the story. Parents can also have them narrate out loud any tasks they’re completing to help them retain focus.
About Joyce Wilson
Joyce taught for decades. Now happily retired, she spends her days sharing her teaching knowledge with today’s teachers and hanging out with her grandchildren. She and a fellow retired teacher created TeacherSpark.org to share creative ideas and practical resources for the classroom.