Daily habits that can help manage ADHD symptoms in kids
A child suffering from ADHD is typically inattentive, hyperactive, impulsive, easily distracted, forgetful and irritable. Here are daily habits parents can inculcate in kids that can help manage ADHD symptoms in them.
We tend to overlook certain things in a child simply because they are growing and changing every day. However, this also increases chance of ignoring tell-tale signs of a neurological or psychological disorder. ADHD or Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is one such common neurodevelopmental condition in kids which could continue till adulthood and make the person impulsive, disorganised, with poor time management skills and restless. A child suffering from ADHD is typically inattentive, hyperactive, impulsive, easily distracted, forgetful, poor study skills, irritable. Because of ADHD, kids are not able to pay attention, control their emotions, and it is difficult to manage them in general. (Also read: Shilpa, Apurva Agnihotri become parents after 18 years of marriage; Pluses and minuses of parenting after 40)
What is ADHD
"Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition affecting a large number of children that often continues into adulthood. The various signs and symptoms of this condition are getting distracted very easily, stress, insomnia, being forgetful, losing things, making careless mistakes, constantly changing activities, excessive talking and physical movements, impulsiveness, lack of concentration, and constant fidgeting. Such children need timely medical intervention," says Dr. Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative Medicine Researcher, StemRx Bioscience Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Navi Mumbai.
“ADHD can be seen in patients in two forms. Patients can either have hyperactivity or decreased attention, or a mix of both. The disorder is seen to be more common in children than adults. Patients having severe ADHD are recommended medication along with psychotherapy, while others are recommended a milder form of therapy," says Dr. Mazher Ali, psychiatrist, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, CARE Hospitals.
Daily habits that help manage symptoms of ADHD
Dr Pradeep Mahajan says that a good night's sleep, reducing stress, and eating a balanced diet can help kids cope with the condition better.
- Get a good night’s sleep: Children with ADHD might find it difficult to sleep peacefully. Parents should ensure that the child doesn’t watch television or play games on the phone at least one hour before bedtime. It is better to engage children in books instead of video games. The child can take a warm shower, which can help to induce sleep. A proper sleep schedule can reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
- Reduce stress by relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation: Parents should encourage their children to calm down and do yoga and meditation to relax. Also, doing other activities such as running, walking and cycling can also be helpful. Exercise will burn excess energy in children who are hyperactive.
- Eat a balanced diet: A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet gives one energy and improves concentration. Try to strike a proper balance between proteins, carbohydrates, and fat. Eat protein-rich foods such as almonds, fish, eggs, seeds, milk, and yogurt.
What to do about Oppositional Defiant Disorder
"For decreased attention seen especially in kids, patients should be encouraged to take short and quick breaks in between activities e.g. in intervals of 10 minutes. The ones having hyperactivity can engage in an intense exercise of 5 minutes, which can help them improve concentration by up to 30%. It is also commonly observed that kids and adults who have hyperactive ADHD are very energetic. Such kids tend to run around the house or the space they are in and hurt themselves with sharp objects in the house. For such patients, restructuring the environment around, them to make it safer is recommended.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is also quite common in children with ADHD. In this case, children tend to disobey adults, and are irritable and argumentative. The parent is expected to be patient with the kid. Such behaviours should not be rewarded as a reward will only encourage the child to repeat such an activity in the future. Use positive interaction and non-aversive techniques to discourage such behaviour. For adults, cognitive and behavioural therapy along with relaxation techniques will help them improve their focus and reduce ADHD," says Dr Mazher Ali.
Tips to manage ADHD in kids
Dr Megha Mahajan, Consultant - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road says a structured routine, less screen time, and effecting parenting techniques can help with ADHD.
1. Structured daily routine from wake-up time to bedtime can help them manage their time better, stay organised and calm.
2. Healthy sleep patterns can decrease their stress.
3. Daily physical activity (including outdoor sports) is important for overall development.
4. Healthy eating habits: Eating a good diet can help improve focus.
5. Parents can help kids manage distractions
6. Effective parenting techniques like giving the child clear, specific and short instructions or commands can help them.
7. Provide limited choices: Instead of confusing them with large number of choices, this can help.
8. Include visual cues and time out
9. Removal of privileges as consequences for bad behaviours.
Dr Rituparna Ghosh, Consultant, Psychology, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai says setting small goals and reducing distractions is an effective method to help kids with ADHD.
- Start with small goals and break the big ones into smaller chunks
- Get enough sleep and proper diet
- Practice relaxation and deep breathing to calm yourself
- Exercising and cultivating hobbies where your immense energy gets channelized through positive outlets (dance, sports and other creative activities involving motor movements)
- Give yourself extra time
- Take things one step at a time and plan ahead
- Stick to routines
- Do tasks when you are well motivated
- Reduce distractions where you are working
- Acknowledge positive behaviour