Finding balance: 3 approaches for managing ADHD behaviors in children

(BPT) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published new recommendations for helping children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to reduce associated behaviors, which can include hyperactivity, restlessness, and emotional dysregulation. The leading public health institute’s recommendation is behavior therapy before starting a prescription drug regimen, which often includes stimulant-based medications. Behavior therapy provides tools for parents to help their child with ADHD learn self-control and boost their self-esteem. The CDC’s recommendations come at a time when more than 60 percent of children aged 4-17 who are diagnosed with ADHD are taking prescription medication.

‘The latest CDC recommendation is not surprising. Just as every child is different, so are the expressions of ADHD and the approaches that are designed to help alleviate varying behaviors. Not every child should be prescribed medications at the onset,’ said Robert D. Hunt, M.D., a child psychiatrist and founder of the Center for Attention. ‘Behavior therapy and prescription drugs are only two of several options for parents wanting to help their children. Approaches range from lifestyle modifications to brain training techniques as well as several different methods in between – all in an effort to help a child with ADHD find balance in their lives.’

In addition to behavior therapy, Dr. Hunt shares other approaches for parents to consider and discuss with their child’s health care practitioner.

Fitness-Diet-Sleep routine

If your child is living a sedentary lifestyle, eating lots of processed foods and getting only a few hours of sleep each night, you should be working with your health care practitioner to develop a personalized fitness-diet-sleep regimen. Regular exercise can help increase neurotransmitters, like dopamine, in the body, which may increase a child’s ability to focus. In addition to regular exercise, offer your child nutritious foods and snacks that are packed with vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. For children with ADHD, poor sleep patterns may intensify ADHD behaviors.

Medical foods

Unlike dietary supplements that are intended to enhance wellness by supporting normal bodily function in healthy populations, medical foods are designed to manage distinct nutritional deficiencies that are associated with certain diseases and health conditions, including ADHD. Since children with ADHD are often overly emotional, excitable and irritable, parents may consider Vayarin. This medical food is comprised of a proprietary composition of phosphatidylserine (PS) attached to omega-3s enriched with Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This composition makes it easier for omega-3s to move into the brain.

Research has shown that PS-Omega-3 medical food can be taken alongside stimulant medications. According to a new retrospective study conducted at Texas Child Neurology and Children’s Health Services, patients diagnosed with ADHD who took PS-Omega-3 medical food reported a reduction of ADHD behaviors and, of these patients, nearly a third were able to reduce their ADHD medication while on the medical food. Reducing stimulant medications may help to reduce undesirable side effects in individuals with ADHD.

Working memory training

Retaining information long enough to accomplish a specific goal can be a challenge for children with ADHD. Working memory training is used just as its name indicates – to help train the memory system to remember information for longer periods of time. In addition to using memory games such as flash cards, there are a number of apps and tools available to help your child build a stronger working memory. This type of training can give children with ADHD the ability to solve problems and more easily adapt to situations, as well as have better awareness of social cues.

Finding balance can be hard work for your child and yourself. As a parent, it is critical that you take time to celebrate every success no matter the size and no matter the approach. Take a moment to write down each achievement and then congratulate your child and yourself.

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