We’ve seen quite a few moms at our practice voicing concerns that their children might be suffering from ADHD. Don’t worry! Most kids end up not diagnosed with ADHD. To ease your concerns, we decided to give you a quick guide on the topic.
The signs and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) typically appear before the age of seven. However, it can be difficult to distinguish between ADHD and normal kid behavior.
Just because a child has symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity does not mean that he or she has ADHD. Many kids who can’t pay attention don’t necessarily have an attention deficit. They may not have been taught the skill of concentration and merely have a short attention span! Helping your child to concentrate and focus is a critical life skill.
Here are a few ways to improve your child’s concentration levels:
- Promote a healthy lifestyle: Good nutrition and enough sleep are huge factors in helping your child concentrate on a task. Studies have shown that a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and veggies will help your child’s brain functions. Try to avoid foods that have coloring in them, as they may increase hyperactivity in children.
- Set tasks according to your child’s maturity level: Often, the reason kids lose focus on a task is because it’s either too easy or too hard for them. Take a close look at the activity and make sure it’s the right skill level for your child.
- Divide big projects into small tasks: A great tactic to help increase your child’s concentration is to split the task up into smaller pieces. Big projects can overwhelm.
- Minimize distractions: Give your child a quiet place to work when focus is necessary. Remember that kids haven’t developed the same ability to screen out distractions that adults have acquired
- Control the use of television and electronics: Experts agree that kids under two should not watch TV at all while older children should only be allowed 1-2 hours a day. Too much TV and electronics can prevent children from doing intellectual and physical activities like, reading, doing homework, playing outside, and interacting with friends and family.
- Get your child moving: It has been scientifically proven that children that do at least 30 minutes of exercise per day are more likely to do well in school, focus better and generally be more positive.
- Play Memory games: The ability to focus is like a muscle. With practice, a person can experience longer and more effective periods of concentration. Use memory games as a fun way to increase your child’s ability.
- Be honest and open with your child: If something is going on within the family, talk to your child about his or her feelings. The stress of the tension that might be going on within the household could be the leading cause of the lack of concentration.
- Supplement with proper essential fatty acids: Some studies have shown that children who supplement their diet with essential fatty acids (EFA’s), also known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have a lower likelihood of developing neurological disorders like ADHD, depression and anxiety. However, studies examining whether EFA’s help improve symptoms of ADHD have produced mixed results. In the meantime, eating foods that are high in EFA’s is a good approach. Examples of these foods are oily fish (e.g. salmon and sardine), flaxseed (linseed), soya oil and walnuts. Consult your child’s doctor first before deciding to use any EFA supplement for your child.
Before a diagnosis of ADHD can be made, it is important to rule out the following possibilities:
- Learning disabilities or problems with reading, writing, motor skills, or language.
- Major life events or traumatic experiences (e.g. a recent move, death of a loved one, bullying, divorce).
- Psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
- Behavioral disorders such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.
- Medical conditions, including thyroid problems, neurological conditions, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.
So if your child is suffering from attention and hyperactivity issues, it may be worth digging deeper to determine if that’s really the issue.