Need to know: Tips and strategies to manage ADHD in children.
It’s no secret that navigating the world of ADHD can be challenging, but as we embark on this journey, it’s crucial to remember that our kids need more than just medication to thrive. Think of it this way: just like our bodies need a combination of vitamins to stay healthy, our ADHD children need their own set of “vitamins” to truly flourish.
Why it’s important
Medication and therapy are just a part of providing your child with the support they need, and in some cases these may not be options for your child or family. If your child doesn’t respond well to medication or you can’t afford/access therapy, there are still things you can do that are free, in your control and can be actioned immediately without access to a medical professional. What’s not to like?
Tips & strategies
The top 7 “vitamins” for children with ADHD are a combination of strategies and tools that create an environment that benefits your child and family.
1 – Vitamin A, Acceptance
By accepting your child’s neurology you are acknowledging and embracing the unique way their brain works, including any differences or challenges they may have.
Acceptance helps you focus your energy on finding ways to empower your child to thrive. It allows you to let go of expectations that hold you both back.
Use your child’s strengths and abilities to build their confidence, while also understanding and supporting their needs.
2 – Vitamin C, Connection
Avoid constant arguing, yelling, and power struggles, as they can wear away at your relationship with your child. Instead, prioritise connection through laughter, affection, and doing things they enjoy.
Oxytocin, the “happy hormone” is released during positive experiences helping to regulate trust, empathy, positive memories, bonding cues, and communication.
Value your child’s thoughts and feelings to strengthen your bond and reduce challenging behaviour over time. Read more about the 7 day connection challenge to help you strengthen your relationship with your child.
3 – Vitamin E, Exercise
Physical exercise helps release energy and increases the natural production of serotonin and dopamine, both important in mood and emotional regulation.
Choose a light or intense activity, but always add fun by combining it with laughter
- Water fight – get the hose out, or fill up recycled spray bottles for endless fun
- Dance off – turn on the music and practice your moves
- Obstacle course – use pillows, hula-hoops, and other common household items
4 – Vitamin I, Interest
The ADHD brain is an interest-based brain. Your child might surprise you when they can sit still and do a preferred activity.
This is because doing something of interest triggers their ability to focus. Ask your child to do something boring, and the dysfunction will be apparent.
Use this knowledge to engage your child in boring tasks or difficult transitions by using games and challenges, and relating it to personal interests. Small immediate rewards release dopamine and increase motivation!
5 – Vitamin N, Nature
Nature improves mood and cognitive functioning, increases social interactions, and reduces ADHD symptoms.
Your child doesn’t have to be sporty, there are lots of different outdoor activities.
- Make a “Can you spot it?” card to engage your child in finding flowers, trees, and wildlife
- Rock hopping/shell collecting. Use them as inspiration for art projects
- Take photos of trees, insects, and birds. Research to find interesting facts
6 – Vitamin R, Routine
Routines make life more predictable and safe for kids. Most of what we ask of our kids is rooted in our daily routines.
Implementing the same routine in the mornings, afternoons, and at bedtime sets up your family and your child to do well. Use visuals, music, tokens, or a combination to keep everyone on track.
Consistency is an integral part of routines, it can take weeks to months to create habits, but there will be days when your child still needs your help. Read more on making routines work for your family.
7 – Vitamin S, Sleep
Sleep is fundamental to several brain functions including learning, self-regulation, behaviour, and mood.
Kids with ADHD experience more sleep problems than their neurotypical peers. A child who doesn’t get enough/quality sleep will have more difficulty regulating their emotions, have less capacity to process information, and will find it harder to focus and sustain attention.
Address your child’s sleep issues early and you can significantly improve their ADHD symptoms.
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