Treatment for ADD/ADHD isn’t just about taking medication. There are many other effective treatments that can help kids with ADD/ADHD improve their ability to pay attention, control impulsive behavior, and curb hyperactivity.
Nutritious meals, play and exercise, and learning better social skills are all part of a balanced treatment plan that can improve performance at school, improve your child’s relationships with others, and decrease stress and frustration.
Stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are often prescribed for attention deficit disorder, but they might not be the best option for your child—and they’re certainly not the only treatment.
Medications for ADD/ADHD may help your child concentrate better or sit still, at least in the short term. But to date, there is little evidence that they improve school achievement, relationships, or behavioral issues over the long term. And even in the short term, medication won’t solve all problems or completely eliminate the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
Furthermore, there are concerns about the effects these powerful drugs may have on a child’s developing brain. And the side effects—such as irritability, loss of appetite, and insomnia—can also be problematic.
The bottom line: medication is a tool, not a cure. And it is most effective when combined with other treatments that address emotional and behavioral issues.
Treatment starts at home
As a parent, you have a huge influence over your child’s treatment. Evidence shows that eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and making other smart daily choices can help your child manage the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. That means your child can begin treatment for ADD/ADHD today—at home.
The power of exercise
Exercising is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise and medications for ADD/ADHD such as Ritalin and Adderall work similarly. But unlike ADD/ADHD medication, exercise doesn’t require a prescription and it’s side effect free.
Activities that require close attention to body movements, such as dance, gymnastics, martial arts, and skateboarding, are particularly good for kids with ADD/ADHD. Team sports are also a good choice. The social element keeps them interesting.
The importance of sleep
Regular quality sleep can lead to vast improvement in the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. However, many kids with ADD/ADHD have problems getting to sleep at night. Sometimes, these sleep difficulties are due to stimulant medications, and decreasing the dose or stopping the medication entirely will solve the problem.
However, a large percentage of children with ADD/ADHD who are not taking stimulants also have sleep difficulties. If your child is one of them, the following tips can help.
- Set a regular bedtime (and enforce it).
- If background noise keeps your child up, try a sound machine or a fan.
- Turn off all electronics (TV, computer, video games, iPhone) at least an hour before bed.
- Limit physical activity in the evening.
Good nutrition is very important
Studies show that what, and when, you eat makes a difference when it comes to managing ADD/ADHD.
- Schedule regular meals or snacks no more than three hours apart. This will help keep your child’s blood sugar level, minimizing irritability and supporting concentration and focus.
- Try to include a little protein and complex carbohydrates at each meal or snack. These foods will help your child feel more alert while decreasing hyperactivity.
- Check your child’s zinc, iron, and magnesium levels. Many children with ADD/ADHD are low in these important minerals. Boosting their levels may help control ADD/ADHD symptoms. Increasing iron may be particularly helpful. One study found that an iron supplement improved symptoms almost as much as taking stimulant medication.
- Add more omega-3 fatty acids to your child’s diet. Studies show that omega-3s improve hyperactivity, impulsivity, and concentration in kids (and adults) with ADD/ADHD. Omega-3s are found in salmon, tuna, sardines, and some fortified eggs and milk products. However, the easiest way to boost your child’s intake is through fish oil supplements.
Alternative to Medication
If you still want to give your child some sort of medication, rather give him/her the Manna Calmer Junior instead of the chemical options. The Calmer Junior formulation can help to keep them calm, focused without the worry of any side effects.