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As a doctor who treats Attention Deficit Disorder, I am often asked about how to handle ADHD children. As the mother of a son with ADHD, I understand how challenging and nerve-wracking it can be for families struggling with the condition.
During the course of my personal and clinical experience, I have learned various methods and techniques to calm hyperactive children. The key is consistency. Give these a try and see what works for your child.
How To Handle ADHD Children
* Speak in a calming voice without frustration or yelling. Be the role model: If you want your child to be calm, remain calm yourself.
* Healthy diet. Eat fresh foods, fruits, and vegetables. Choose foods that have not been sprayed with harmful pesticides, or pumped with growth hormones, steroids, and antibiotics.
* Eliminate foods and drinks that contain added preservatives, coloring and sugar. Check labels for anything that contains high fructose corn syrup as it has been implicated in harming brain functioning, and causing obesity, and diabetes. You will be shocked to see that it is contained in many foods you consume.
* Maintain firm, but kind, boundaries. Negotiate for good behavior.
* Regular physical activity and exercise. Structured and focused activities help redirect all of that unfocused hyper energy. Studies show that performing vigorous activity can calm hyperactive children.
* Remove the child from the situation in which they are exhibiting hyperactivity such as a birthday party, store, etc. In other words, change the triggering environment.
* Engaging in creative activities can help calm hyperactive children. This enables them to develop their creativity and release emotional energy.
* Massage. Try massaging temples, rubbing shoulders, massaging the scalp, or lightly running fingers through hair to calm a hyperactive child.
* Breathing and relaxation. Most children and adults do not know how to calm down. Encourage children to monitor their breathing when they get overly stimulated and teach them to take deep breaths by slowly inhaling through the nose for 3-5 counts and exhaling through the mouth for 3-5 counts. Increase these amounts over time. Teach them to focus on their body and recognize any physical tension. Teach them to let go and release any body tension upon exhalation like a deflating balloon.
* Consistency. Stick to routines. Make certain children know what is expected of them and the consequences for not abiding. Prepare children for any unusual or non-routine activities by explaining what is going to happen, and discuss ways they can keep calm even with the excitement brought on by the different activities. Follow through consistently.
* Try creating a “Quiet Box”, “Boredom Box” or “Quiet Room” that provides creative outlets for a hyperactive child. Provide a quiet room or space with quiet toys and activities such as puzzles, book, jewelry making, drawing, etc. This room should have soothing lighting and paint. Learn how to create a quiet home here.
* Learn how to create a calm home that fosters quiet, relaxation, and productivity.
* Learn about behavior modification, ADHD diets, ADD natural remedies, neurofeedback for ADHD, and natural calming remedies.
* Try the Total Focus Program which is, in my clinical opinion, the best ADHD treatment resource for struggling families.
* Try some soothing aromatherapy scents.
* Expose them to the beauty of nature. A quiet walk in the park, camping, admiring the serenity of a gentle stream, or simply relaxing in the backyard while gazing at the stars is a great way to teach kids (and parents) how to slow down.
* Use soothing music or sounds to calm hyperactive children.
* Calmly explain why your child needs to settle down such as “If you jump off the bed you can hurt yourself.” It is not a debate, state it simply and do not get into a challenging debate.
* Divide tasks into smaller components and calmly repeat instructions.
* Avoid whatever may trigger their hyperactivity.
* You set the tone, so try to remain positive. Children sense negative thoughts and will react to them; the converse is also true. Reassure them that you still love them even when they are behaving in a “highly spirited” fashion.
* Put a positive spin on time out by using it as an opportunity to calm down and remove the child from a trigger situation.
* Get enough sleep. Children 1 to 3 years old typically require 12 to 14 hours of sleep, 3 to 6 year old kids should get 10 3/4 to 12 hours of sleep, children 7 to 12 years of age need 10 to 11 hours, and 12 to 18 year old kids need 8 ¼ to 9 ½ hours of sleep daily.
* Engage in self care. Monitor your own your own frustration. Your projected energy has a direct effect on your children and environment, so you must take care of yourself before caring for others.
Over time, I guarantee you will see progress. Try to remain patient. More importantly, these techniques not only calm hyperactive children but they benefit both parents and children. As a result, they aid in forming healthy bonds among all family members.
Dr. Emily Kensington specializes in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Her website is www.add-treatment.com.