Treatment Of ADHD In Children: Tips For Parents

Typically, treatment for ADHD in children include behavioral therapy and medication. In addition to this, having a healthy lifestyle is important to deal with ADHD symptoms or prevent them from getting worse.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder of childhood, affecting millions of children worldwide. However, often, this childhood condition continues into adulthood. The main characteristics of ADHD include trouble paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. ADHD can also lead to low self-esteem, poor performance and relationship problems. Typically, treatment for ADHD in children involve behavioral therapy and medication. While this won’t cure them, it can help them deal with the symptoms to a great extent. Additionally, it is important that children with ADHD follow a healthy lifestyle to reduce the symptoms, and this is where parents can play a big role.

Parents can encourage children with ADHD to adopt and stick to certain healthy behaviors that can make it easier to deal with ADHD symptoms. If a child has ADHD, parents can help him/her –

  • Develop healthy eating habits (eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein foods)
  • Engage in daily physical activity, appropriate to his/her age.
  • Reduce daily screen time or use of TVs, computers, phones, and other electronics.
  • Get adequate amount of sleep each night based on age.

Treatment options for children with ADHD

For preschool-aged children (or children younger than 6 years of age) with ADHD, parent training in behavior management is recommended as the first line of treatment before medication is tried. What works best can depend on the child and family.

For children aged 6 years or older, ADHD is treated with a combination of behavior therapy and medication. According to US CDC, behavior therapies often used for school-age children and adolescents include:

  • Parent training in behavior management (for children up to age 12)
  • Behavioral interventions in the classroom
  • Peer interventions that focus on behavior
  • Organizational skills training.

Which approach works best for a child depends on the needs of the individual child and the family. The purpose of behavior therapy is to reduce or eliminate the child’s disruptive behaviors and help to learn and strengthen positive behaviors.

Stimulants are most widely used ADHD medications, and are approved to treat ADHD in children as young as 6 years of age.

Expert tips for parents on how to manage their child’s behavior

If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, here are a few things you can do that help improve your child’s behavior:

  • Create a routine (beginning with wake-up time to bedtime) and ensure that your child follows it every day.
  • Teach them to be more organized. For example, putting schoolbags, clothing, and toys in the same place every day.
  • Track your child’s positive behaviors and praise them or reward them for their efforts
  • Avoid scolding, yelling, or spanking for inappropriate behavior. Instead use time-outs or removal of privileges as consequences.
  • Encourage them to follow a healthy lifestyle (eating nutritious food, regular physical activity, and sufficient sleep). These can prevent worsening of the ADHD symptoms.

Causes and symptoms of ADHD

What causes attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not known clearly yet, but research suggest that genetic factors play an important role. Other possible causes and risk factors of ADHD include brain injury, exposure to environmental risks, such as lead, during pregnancy or at a young age, alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, premature delivery and low birth weight.

Signs and Symptoms: Children with ADHD may daydream a lot, forget or lose things a lot, talk too much, squirm or fidget, have trouble taking turns and take unnecessary risks.

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