Does your child always seem to be running around? Is he/she easily distracted by the least of sounds? Does he/she find it difficult to focus on anything?
Have you classified these symptoms as a result of your child merely being naughty or playful? Think again.
Kids are naughty, definitely. However, there are several ailments, which may come across as the child being naughty but are actually a form of disorder classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). One of these ailments is ADHD.
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) refers to three major symptoms; inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These can be detected in the following behaviors:
Does your child:
- make careless mistakes in schoolwork?
- find it difficult to sustain attention in tasks or play?
- fail to finish chores, schoolwork etc.?
- seem distractible even when you are talking to him/ her?
- have difficulty organizing tasks?
- avoid tasks that require sustained effort?
- often lose things?
- gets easily distracted by external stimuli?
- Is your child often forgetful?
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
Does your child:
- frequently fidget with hands, feet, or squirms in their seat?
- often leave his/her seat during the class?
- often run or climb when it is inappropriate?
- talk excessively?
- have a hard time waiting for the question to be completed before he/she blurts out an answer?
- have difficulty waiting his/her turn?
- often interrupt during conversations?
- Is your child often ‘on the go’?
If your child seems to have at least six or more of the symptoms in any one (or both) areas, he/she might be suffering from attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder.
How to treat ADHD?
Treatment for ADHD helps manage symptoms. The treatment modalities consist of medication or therapy. Often, a combination of both is best.
Both the diagnosis and medication are best left to the psychiatrist. If you suspect, your child may have ADHD, it’s best to see a professional right away. The disorder can be easily diagnosed from ages 4 and up.
Additionally, think about therapy for your child. It can be highly valuable for both of you. The therapist will help you understand the disorder, train and educate you regarding your behavior with the child and work with your child on several aspects (i.e., behavior therapy, social skills training etc.).
Further, certain diets and supplements are also seen to help with the treatment. The treating team will guide you regarding the same.
ADHD can be a distressing condition, both for the child as well as the parents. However, with timely and effective treatment, it can be brought under control. Following these tips with your child will go a long way in changing his behavior in the long-term.
How can I help my child afflicted with ADHD?
Apart from consulting professionals and starting the treatment at the outset once the diagnosis has been made, you can also do some concrete things to help your child.
- Nature and Exercise. Your child needs to spend time in nature. Playing outside for at least 30 minutes is essential. Other recommended activities are dance, gymnastics, skating, and martial arts. Encourage team sports.
- Regular sleep. Ensure there are a regular sleep and wake times for your child. Turn off all electronics at least an hour prior to bed (i.e., phone, TV, computer, tablet). Also, limit physical activity a few hours before bedtime.
- Nutrition. Schedule regular meals. Ensure your child has snacks every two to three hours. Include protein and carbohydrates in each meal. Check the levels of Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium. Boosting these would be of help. Add Omega-3 fatty acids to your child’s diet (i.e., tuna, fortified eggs, milk products, salmon, sardines).
- Behavior Therapy. Set specific goals for your child. Make a daily timetable and stick to it. Provide rewards for a behavior well done and consequence for when the child fails to meet a pre-decided goal. Use the rewards and consequences consistently to ensure the long-term changes in behavior.
- Consistency. Follow a routine. Set a time and place for everything. Establish a predictable routine for bed, meals, study, and play.
- Organization. Encourage the child to put things in the same place every day. That will reduce the chances of losing things.
- Manage distractions. Limit noise, turn off the TV, and clear the workspace for your child to do homework.
- Limit choices. Don’t overwhelm or over-stimulate the child with too many options. Offer choice, but fewer.
- Clarity and specificity. Be clear and specific in conversation with your child. Use brief directions to direct them.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Barkley, R. A. (Ed.). (2014). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York: Guilford Publications.
How do you feel about therapy? Is it something that is scary for you, or something you expect to solve or your problems? Or is it something you see as a tool for exploring yourself? Unfortunately, many people don’t have an accurate picture of what psychotherapy and counseling are all about and what they can actually get from it. Consequentially, there are clients who, due to their false expectations, just give up from therapy after one or two sessions. On the other hand, there are therapists who simply don’t provide what they should provide for their clients.
For these reasons, we want to clarify what therapy is, and is not. What can you expect from psychotherapy and what it should provide? Learning this will help you get the most out of your counseling sessions and have realistic expectations. Additionally, you’ll be able to recognize if you should, maybe, change your therapist.
Here is an extraordinarily helpful article on this matter: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2016/08/what-therapy-is-is-not-10-considerations/. Tamara Hill shares some useful guidelines on what characterizes good therapy, as well as what therapy shouldn’t be.
- Teamwork and partnership
- Equal but with professional boundaries
Therapy is Not…
The psychotherapeutic process almost always includes change, and change can be uncomfortable. Even if you find yourself falling into some of the last 5 behaviors, don’t worry; sometimes, these feelings are normal for certain stages in psychotherapy. A good therapist will work with you on your feelings and you’ll together try to find where they’re coming from. As long as it’s not your permanent view or constant behavior on your sessions, there is no reason for serious concerns.
Lastly, Rollo May sums up what therapy is and is not nicely:
“Therapy isn’t curing somebody of something; it is a means of helping a person explore himself, his life, his consciousness. My purpose as a therapist is to find out what it means to be human. Every human being must have a point at which he stands against the culture, where he says, ‘This is me and the world be damned!’ Leaders have always been the ones to stand against the society — Socrates, Christ, Freud, all the way down the line.”
– Rollo May