Tips for Helping Your ADHD Child Calm Down

 

Hyperactivity is Both Physical and Mental

For many children with ADHD, sitting still is a near impossible task. Their constant physical activity can be frustrating for parents and difficult for teachers when a child’s hyperactivity disrupts a class. But, as Eileen Bailey at HealthCentral.com explains:

“… for children with hyperactivity, physical activity is not the only aspect. Their minds often don’t shut down. Thoughts go a million miles an hour and in many different directions. To help a child learn to manage or reduce hyperactivity includes strategies to help lower physical activity levels and to calm thoughts.”

Calming Suggestions

So what is a parent to do in these situations? She offers these tips to help parents keep their ADHD kids calm.

Yoga or meditation – It is important to teach your child methods for self-regulation. Some examples include: deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi or meditation. These can all help a child learn to slow down their thoughts and their bodies.

Daily exercise – Adding at least 20 minutes of exercise each day to your child’s routine can help reduce depression, anxiety and other ADHD symptoms. A short walk can be an excellent way to help your child calm down during periods of high activity. On days when outdoor exercise is difficult, try using video games that incorporate exercise to help your child keep moving and entertained.

Music – Soothing music, such as classical music, can help some children calm down. You can try out different kinds of music to find out what works best for your child. Use music in the background for times when activity levels should be low, such as homework time, dinner time or before bedtime.

Boredom boxes and fidget alternatives – When boredom sets in, your child may become especially hyperactive.. Create a box of activities which contains art supplies, Legos, models or whatever activity tends to hold your child’s interest. Switch items once in awhile to keep the activities novel and interesting. For children who are continually restless or must fidget whenever they are trying to sit still, provide a stress ball or other object they ca manipulate to help them release energy and keep moving without disturbing others.

Structure – Kids with ADHD thrive in a structured environment where there are rules and routines, and they know what to expect. Establishing regular, daily routines can help them to stay calm.

Finally, she recommends that you stay calm yourself. She says,

“Children react to your reaction. If you get upset, frustrated or angry, their hyperactivity levels may increase. Take a few deep breaths, go into the other room, and take a short break if you need one. Staying calm and reacting with a neutral voice will help your child remain calm..”

Other tips for helping ADHD kids calm down at home and in the classroom can be found at Understood.org. You may also find it helpful to engage a specially trained ADHD coach to help your child learn to stay calm and focused.

Help! How to Deal With ADHD Meltdowns

Hyperactivity has Positive Aspects

Hyperactivity can be the source of inappropriate behavior in some situations. However, many adults with ADHD appreciate their endless energy and feel they are able to accomplish much more than those without hyperactivity. You can turn hyperactivity into a positive trait, by helping your children learn to harness their excess energy and use it to help them accomplish their goals.

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Ty Pennington’s Extreme ADHD Makeover

While many celebrities are reticent to talk about their learning challenges, Ty Pennington has been vocal about his ADHD diagnosis. Pennington is the former host of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and today the co-host of “American Diner Revival.” He says he is proof that a person with ADHD can focus on one thing long enough to make it happen.

Ty Pennington’s Childhood Struggles with ADHD

For all of his childhood, he wasn’t aware that he had ADHD. In grade school, his hyperactivity seemed in the way of everything he tried to accomplish. As a result, he spent a lot of his time in the hallway or in detention. School was difficult. By his own account, Ty says he swung on the blinds, ran around the classroom, and playfully slapped other students on the back of the head. He would read a book but not remember a word, cause chaos in the classroom daily, and spend most of his time being disciplined instead of learning. He was finally officially diagnosed with ADHD while in college.

He spoke with Nicki Gostin of the Huffington Post about his childhood experiences with ADHD.

“My mom was studying to be a child psychologist and she went to my elementary school to test the worst kid they had. They were like, “Mrs. Pennington, you really don’t want to know who that is.” They let her observe me through a window and within 20 minutes I stripped naked, wore my desk around and swung on the blinds. I was just a complete distraction to all the other students.

Back then, they didn’t even know what to call it. They put me on antihistamines to try and make me drowsy. They tried everything. It certainly affected my confidence and my belief in myself. When everyone’s afraid you’re going to hurt yourself from just mowing the lawn, you start to believe them. Once I figured out I was pretty decent at art and people were interested in hiring me, I realized I had a skill besides injuring myself.

What’s kind of funny is that I ended up working with power tools to pay my way through art school and still have all my digits.”

Finding Creativity Amid the Chaos

Pennington admits that ADHD hurt his confidence and his belief in his own abilities, but he found success by pursuing art, design, and carpentry. Later a modeling scout approached him and he began a career in print advertising, TV, and endorsements. Pennington was able to leverage his photogenic appearance, charismatic sense of humor, and love for carpentry into his own empire of television shows, magazine publications, home fashion designs, and personal appearances. He also won an Emmy award for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Today he manufactures his own line of furniture and writes a regular column for Enjoy magazine in addition to his work in television. Ty Pennington is proof that no matter how strong the symptoms of ADHD might be, they can be harnessed into a creative and fulfilling career.

Celebrities with ADHD: Ty Pennington

Getting Better Sleep with ADHD

 

ADHD and Sleep Disorders

Recent research has linked ADHD to a variety of sleep problems in children. For example, the Sleep Foundation cites the following studies which outline some of the common sleep disturbances experienced by children with ADHD:

  • One recent study found that children with ADHD had higher rates of daytime sleepiness than children without ADHD.
  • A second study found that 50% of children with ADHD had signs of sleep disordered breathing, compared to only 22% of children without ADHD.
  • A third research study found that restless legs syndrome and periodic leg movement syndrome are also common in children with ADHD.

How ADHD May Exacerbate Sleep Problems

According to Laura Tagliareni at Understood.org, certain tendencies among children with ADHD can keep them from getting a good night’s sleep.

  • They often have trouble with self-regulation which can prevent them from wind-down at the end of the day.
  • They are a more prone to things like nightmares and bedwetting.
  • They may put off doing homework until the last minute which makes the evening more hectic and less relaxing.
  • If they are in the tweens and teens age group, they may feel more productive during quiet nighttime hours which results in less sleep.
  • They often have anxiety problems. Their anxious feelings can emerge at night when there are fewer activities to distract them. This causes them to have trouble falling or staying asleep.

Tips for Helping Your Child Get Better Sleep

There are a number of steps parents can take to help their ADHD child get more and better sleep. These include:

  • Encourage your child to participate in physical activities after school
  • Monitor sleep patterns and begin the process of getting ready for bed earlier in the evening
  • Reduce stimulating activities before bedtime and try to get your child to start their homework earlier
  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants in the evening, and if necessary, talk your doctor about the stimulative effects of any ADHD medication your child might be taking
  • Talk to your doctor about excessive snoring or any other breathing issues your child might be experiencing during sleep
  • Investigate meditation and other stress reducing techniques

You can find additional tips for helping your ADHD child improve their sleep from Madeline Vann, MPH at the Everyday Health website.

By working with your child and your child’s physician, you can create a sound sleep environment to help your child get the sleep they need to succeed with ADHD.

How to Get to Sleep When You Have ADHD

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