As a clinician who works with children and adults diagnosed with ADHD and their families, the journey to management can often be a challenging one. As with any neurodiverse brain or mental health issue, it is important to begin looking at the areas we have control over to give our brains optimal opportunity to perform at its best. This includes examining quality of sleep, nutrients we put in our body and exercise. Once we see our brain’s optimal capacity, we can then utilize strategies and/or medication to manage some of the symptoms that are common to the ADHD brain. Parenting a child with ADHD can be challenging as there often can be an excess of energy to manage, challenges with learning, behavioral issues, etc.
Some helpful tips are:
Improve sleep hygiene by setting up a consistent routine for optimal sleep. Consistent routines can include bathing/showering, PJ’s, reading, soft music & lighting, calming scents/aromas, and turning off electronics 30 min – 1hour prior to a consistent lights out/bedtime. Artificial light interferes with our brain’s natural ability to release melatonin, which is the chemical that helps us feel sleepy.
Try to ensure diet includes adequate/healthy nutrients to ensure optimal brain health. Proteins, healthy fats, whole grains are key to fuel our bodies and brains.
Moving our bodies is also key to ensuring our brains are functioning optimally. Make sure to incorporate sports, active outings, walks into your family routine. In the age of technology, we are much more sedentary as a society which requires a more conscientious effort to make sure that we are moving our bodies.
Utilizing technology to assist with important things can be helpful. Technology can also be helpful when setting time limits for activities and using apps for mindfulness, fitness, relaxation/meditation.
Set clear boundaries, expectations, and responsibilities. Keep family rules simple and follow through with rewards and consequences. Behavioral charts can be helpful in teaching children about working toward earning meaningful items or the things they enjoy doing.
Practice mindfulness as a family. Mindfulness is engaging in any activity, but tuning into the sensations it brings. For example: A mindful walk would consist of tuning in to what you see, feel, hear while walking (leave, trees, wind, rain etc.) Paying attention brings us to the present moment and can be an essential tool for calming down the body and brain.
Practice self care and mindset. Let’s face it, parenting is challenging and a marathon. How we take care of selves and think about things is crucial to the long haul. Taking time out for yourself and challenging negative thinking traps can make all the difference in bringing your best self to the task at hand and being the best parent you can be.
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