Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, seems to be gaining in momentum of it’s diagnosis with each passing year. Unfortunately, many children who are prescribed medication to control the symptoms of this disorder experience less-than-desirable side effects as a result of these medicines. Many parents these days are seeking out alternative routes to treat ADHD without harmful medications. With a little information and knowledge at hand, you may be able to find a far safer option. From meditation practices to diet, there are many things that can help ADHD symptoms. One Mind Dharma’s article Concentrative Meditation – Practices, Tips, and Explanation has some great tips on establishing concentration, along with some guided practices.
The first thing you need to take a close look at is your child’s diet. Too many children these days are filling their bodies with refined sugars and flours, artificially dyed and flavored foods, caffeine and other such “junk foods.” Plain and simple, it has been proven that what we eat also effects us both physically as well as emotionally. Many parents have seen for themselves the negative effects of artificial dyes in foods and medicines, specifically Red #40. Children prone to hyperactivity are often effected strongly by Red #40 and this one small step of removing this coloring from your child’s daily diet can truly make a world of difference. My advice to parents wanting to see a drastic change in their child’s impulsivity, sleep patterns, attitude and attention span is to try to keep their diet as natural as possible. Your goal ought to be to feed your child foods that look as close as possible to what they looked like before being shipped to the store. Fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grain breads, organic food items, etc… If a cheese is neon orange or the bread is pure white or the juice is bright green, it is undoubtedly due to some negative additives being introduced into said food item. This may require a lot more label-reading in the grocery store but the change will be well worth it. Also be aware of caffeine which may be in products like chocolate and soft drinks. At first, your child may go through a time of detox when their behavior may get a bit worse as their bodies go through withdrawal (because many children are literally addicted to these additives) but eventually the change in thier daily behavior will be abundantly obvious. Over time your child will surely develop a taste for healthier, more beneficial foods. In our home my eldest son has been on this strict diet for about 4 years now and to be fair we all try to follow it. Now, my children may pick at cake or candy at a birthday party but they will indefinitely devour fresh fruit from a bowl on the table or a salad with dinner. It gets easier the longer you stick to such a diet. And the benefits last a lifetime.
Another route to try is to supplement the dietary changes with a herbal or homeopathic remedy. For aggression and impulsivity and behavior issues including clinginess and arguing you may want to try the homeopathic remedy chamomile. For hyperactivity try an herb such as lemon balm or catnip tea. Hylands homeopathic remedy Calms Forte for children is also a wonderful remedy that can be used both throughout the day as well as at bedtime. Try a few drops of lavender oil in a bath before bed or mix in a few drops with a few tablespoons of carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil and massage into the temples or shoulders. Melatonin is a substance naturally produced by our bodies to soothe and relax us at night time and you may safely administer a dose of up to 3 mg for children ages 3 and up. This can be purchased at any local pharmacy over the counter. A bedtime tea such as a blend of chamomile, peppermint and lemon balm is also a wonderful way to ease that transition from playtime to bedtime. My children often enjoy a cup of bedtime tea iced and sweetened with honey with dinner to help them to relax.
Of course, nothing you give your child is going to magically cure ADHD. The best defense is an active parent. Pay attention to what your child’s triggers are. Keep a predictable schedule and routine day to day in your home. Don;t allow your child to skip naps or stay up all night long. If you are going to be late for a meal offer your child a snack to keep their blood sugar levels stable. If overstimulation is a problem make sure you take notice and lead your child into a quieter calming activity such as helping you knead bread, reading a book together or taking a bath. If boredom is a problem, be more actively involved in playtime, offering suggestions to your child of ways to stay occupied such as art projects, building with blocks or doing a puzzle. Allow your child creative outlets to let out excess energy such as bouncing on a trampoline (or bed if you so allow), roughhousing with Daddy, dancing, sports, outdoor play, etc…. Teach your child when it is acceptable to be loud and boisterous and when it is proper to behave a little calmer. If your child has a teacher at school who refuses to work with you or be understanding perhaps the answer is to switch teachers or even consider home schooling, which I know personally has benefited many high needs ADHD students who otherwise would get lost in the shuffle of overcrowded classrooms.
Most importantly, do not allow your child to become a label. Learn to see your child’s behavior as a blessing. At a young age it can all seem frustrating, and stressful and exhausting. But later in life these attributes may guide him in success. A hyper child may later learn to channel that energy into a career where energy is a must. Impulsivity at a tender age may result in dangerous situations but as you teach her to focus those impulses she may grow into a woman who can think and react fast on their feet. I myself am a woman who was diagnosed ADHD as a child and I can tell you as a mother of 4 young children, my need for less sleep and my ability to multitask serve me well. Instead of speaking negatively in regards to your child’s symptoms, try to point out their strengths in such ways that they are encouraged to grow and develop into an adult you are proud of. It may be a little more work than simply filling a prescription once a month at your local pharmacy for the latest drug, but the results that come with your effort make it well worth it. The goal here is not to silence your child, but to simply give a little guidance to their voice, to empower them to use their true selves in positivity. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. (As long as that pudding is free of all artificial additives 🙂 )