Having a child diagnosed with ADHD is not easy for any parent. Besides dealing with difficult behavioral patterns, parents have to battle with the choice of whether or not to medicate their child. While medication often provides quick symptom relief, it is certainly no cure. Parents may want to consider the triggers of their child’s ADHD symptoms and pursue alternative treatments before putting them on any medications.
Exercise, especially outdoors, may be one of the best alternative treatments to relieve ADHD symptoms. With childhood obesity at an all time high in America, it is no surprise that children are not only lacking enough exercise for their bodies, but also their minds. Playing outside gives the ADHD child an outlet for their seemingly endless energy and increases the chemicals in the brain that are lacking in these children. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels are all aided by physical activity. Getting outside is also a useful alternative treatment because it can help teach that not all behaviors associated with ADHD are bad, but that there is a proper time and place for them.
Indoor activities are beneficial as well. When at home in the evening, it may work best to give the child an activity which focuses on breathing and relaxation techniques, such as yoga. This enables the child to participate in something physical without becoming too riled for dinner or bedtime.
Changes in diet can be a very beneficial alternative treatment for an ADHD child. Parents of a child diagnosed with ADHD should make sure their child is receiving enough protein in his or her diet. Recommended dailies values for a child are twenty-four to thirty grams, depending on age. Starting the day with something nutritious that has protein is important, too.
ADHD children have also been shown to lack certain vitamins and minerals. Parents may wish to supplement the child’s diet with a high quality multivitamin in addition to feeding them healthy meals. Another supplement which has shown great promise in reducing the symptoms of ADHD is fish oil. Omega fatty acids help by improving concentration, and many people do not get enough from their diet alone. A good fish oil with a ratio of 4:1 Omega 3 (EPA) to Omega 6 (DHA) is best.
A natural diet can also help any child with ADHD. Ingredients such as processed sugar and corn syrup, dyes, and preservatives have all been shown to have an adverse affect in ADHD children. Many of these children even have unique food sensitivities that a parent may not realize. An elimination diet may be very helpful in discerning which foods, even natural, may not agree with a child’s system. Ask a physician about an elimination diet if other alternative treatments have not made ADHD symptoms manageable.
Family Counseling may greatly improve how both the child and parent handles ADHD symptoms. It is important that children receive group therapy as well as solo, so that they do not view themselves as a problem with which to be dealt. A skilled counselor will give the child ideas to help them stay focused, positive ways to deal with frustration, and help teach them why certain tasks must be accomplished. He or she will also give the parent coping techniques for when the child’s behavior is not acceptable.
Alternative treatments to ADHD require time and patience to determine the roots of behavioral issues. A balance of structure, discipline, and praise is important, as is knowing when to relax and let a child expend his or her energy. A parent who educates themselves and understands positive ways of reinforcing good habits is the best resource that any child can have.