ADHD is common and it is also over diagnosed. In our frantic modern world we can forget some of the basics that contribute to healthy attention and behavior. At Focus-MD we don’t believe that there are a lot of parents rushing to medicate their kids. Most patients come to us having tried other interventions first. Here are some suggestions that are likely to help with behavior and attention problems regardless of their cause.
None of God’s children no matter how small or how tall pay attention and behave well if they haven’t had adequate sleep. Intrusion of screen time in the bedroom has gone from TV watching to constant contact with texting, social media, video streaming and gaming. Eliminate media from the bedroom at least 30 minutes before bedtime; a good book is still ok. Animals and other household distractions affect sleep too. Get the cat and the dog out of the bedroom and consider white noise to drown out things that go bump in the night. Most people need eight quality hours of sleep.
Limit Daytime Screen Time
With all of the options above we are all online a lot, probably too much. No don’t close your browser; you need to read this! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time a day for school aged kids. No one is more interesting to kids than their favorite game or show so parents with a chore list in hand take note—make the screen black first, then get their attention.
More Fresh Air and Sunshine
Kids need unstructured out door playtime, time to be a kid. This doesn’t include activities like ball practice. This means outdoor play like bike riding and playing chase or building a fort or playhouse. Imaginations soar when kids get into the natural world and get their hands dirty. Schools can help here by realizing that PE is not recess. Kids do better on standardized testing when they have free play at recess—it’s a fact!
With some schools cutting back PE it is important that kids get some physical activity. This may go hand in hand with their dose of fresh air and sunshine but it may be separate. Recent studies have shown that sitting down is making us fat and killing us early and what are our kids supposed to do in school all day? Sit still. Let’s rethink that! Standing up to do work allows the ADHD brain to function better and is better for overall health. Throw in a bike ride or a game of Red Rover and we improve attention and decrease the obesity problem!
ADHD is not a nutrition problem. But every parent and teacher knows that nutrition is important for attention and behavior. They even made a protein candy bar commercial about how we behave when we haven’t eaten! Making sure that kids wake up to a breakfast with good sources of protein and following that up with a nutritious lunch will go far in helping our kids stay on task, concentrate and avoiding sugar crashes from doughnut hangover. Adding omega 3 supplements and a multivitamin until we can improve nutrition from food sources is a good start. While we’re at it why not try eating a little closer to the earth by decreasing the processed foods our families eat and concentrate on getting in a few more fruits and vegetables.
At Focus-MD we concentrate on ADHD but we care about you as a person first and foremost. These tips will help your family live a healthier lifestyle whether you have a diagnosis or not!