A diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (commonly referred to as “ADHD”) can, ironically, come as both an alarm and a relief. On one hand, you finally have answers for why your child struggles when his peers seem to sail through. On the other hand, you may have more questions than answers.
You’re not alone. ADHD in children is the most common disorder, as reported by the National Institutes for Health. That means there are many doctors and parents who can help you get creative with ways to cope.
One empowering mother is blogger Michele Cook. Michele braved the journey herself as a child with ADHD and now nurtures kids of her own with the condition. I caught up with Michele to talk natural methods for raising the most lovable kids on earth.
If your youngster seems to constantly be fidgeting or squirming, it can be tempting to try to tamp down all that excess energy. As you’ve probably figured out, this will frustrate you both. The answer, it turns out, is measured movement.
“My parents figured out something early on,” says Cook. “When I was a kid, we would only go to one restaurant. And the reason we went to that one restaurant is because there was this big field where they could see us. We would run and play while they ate without our interrupting their conversation,” she laughs.
While Cook advises against letting kids play unsupervised, she remembers feeling thankful for the physical outlet before having to concentrate on a sit-down meal and homework. Today, she relies heavily on “move breaks” to help her kids focus.
Before every focused task, have your child do 30 jumping jacks or burpees. Cheer him on as he exercises, and when it’s time to focus, he may have less trouble, according to The Atlantic. Here is a list of other quick ways to expel some of that excess energy:
- 20 squats
- 25 mountain climbers
- 1 minute of jump rope
- 15 push-ups
- 20 jumping cross-crawls
The next step is to incorporate meditation. If you can’t imagine your child sitting still long enough to “meditate,” that’s because you’re envisioning a master yogi, not a child with hyperactivity disorder.
Instead, combine movement with meditation to achieve what author Lorraine Murray calls “calm kids.” The trick is to simply take the principles of mindfulness found in meditation (sensing your breath, noticing your body’s movement, tuning in to all five senses) and apply them to any activity. (Yes, any activity.) That means your kid can be meditating while he runs, jumps, spins, or does all three at once.
To get started, simply talk about it. Have him run a lap around the yard while listening to his breathing. Can he describe it to you? Next, have him hit the same lap, but this time, instruct him to hear his breathing and feel every movement. Finally, ask your child to employ all five senses while he runs again. When he comes back, ask what he heard as he ran. What did he see? Feel? Smell? Tell him to use this tool whenever he feels “big feelings” or needs a safe, healthy object of focus.
Your child’s environment plays a role in his ability to cope. You can help by employing a few simple tricks to optimize your home for success. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Try to limit the multiple channels of noisy media coming into your home. If you’re not actively enjoying a program together, turn the TV off so your developing child can focus.
- Use tension bands. Outfit your child’s dining room chair with a tension band or bungees stretched around each chair leg for his feet to fiddle while he eats or works on homework. The resistance stimulates his mind without derailing his focus.
- Let your youngster sit on a medicine ball for a rhythmic bounce when he needs the release.
- Diffuse essential oils. Mary Ernsberger, a graduate of the American College of Healthcare Sciences, recommends using essential oils to support ADHD in children. Her favorite inhalant is a customized blend she made herself. It includes rosemary, elemi, palmarosa, ylang ylang, vetiver, and bergamot. To make your own, simply add a drop of each to your at-home diffuser.
As you and your doctor begin the journey of learning what the diagnosis means for your child in particular, you may be relieved to hear that, according to the CDC, behavior therapy is the first line of defense. That means learning to cope starts with you.
How do you care for your hyperactive child? What tools does he love best? Send a picture and some encouragement to other parents by tweeting @TomsofMaine!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.