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Natural Remedies for ADHD in Children: Mindfulness, Sleep and Nutrition

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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends treating ADHD in children with medication and behavioral therapy, but many families are also investigating and trying natural remedies.

A recent ADDitude webinar titled “Lifestyle changes have the greatest impact on children with ADHD” focused on conservationists interested in leveraging sleep, nutrition, exercise and mindfulness to manage ADHD in children. Hundreds of questions were asked. Here, ADDitude’s editors answer some of the most common questions and provide links to related resources.

Q1: How can I help my child concentrate long enough to embrace mindfulness techniques?

Getting children with ADHD to slow down and sit quietly in the lotus position is neither easy nor necessary for effective mindfulness practice. A quiet and steady meditation routine does not have to be done in silence or while standing still. Consider a mindful “SEAT” that quickly reflects on immediate sensations, emotions, actions and thoughts. A “quiet sigh” is a slow exhalation that can be used as an alternative to more demanding deep breathing exercises on the brink of a meltdown. Once you have found an activity that appeals to your child’s ADHD brain, the next step is to encourage consistent practice.

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Q2: Do you have any advice for children with ADHD who can’t sleep?

Losing just one hour of sleep per night can affect a child’s academic performance, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. To trick the ADHD brain into sleep mode, try to keep your child’s bedtime the same each night. More exercise during the day can help tire both the mind and body, but it’s best to end physical activity at least three hours before the lights go out. I have had success with noise machines and essential oils.

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Q3: Is melatonin safe for long-term use? My 11-year-old cannot “turn his brain off” without it.

Melatonin is considered healthy, safe, and effective for most children and adults in small, short-term use. Data on the safety of period use are lacking. Talk to your doctor or pediatrician about potential side effects to determine the best dosage for your child.

Q4: My 13 year old son is addicted to sugar. Is this normal for his ADHD and can limiting his sugar intake help him?

ADHD brains are typically deficient in dopamine. So it’s no surprise that children with ADHD crave the dopamine surge that sugar provides. Research is ongoing, but some studies suggest that more sugar may lead to increased hyperactivity and impulsivity. try the sugar test. Reduce intake as much as possible for 10 days. On day 11, introduce a sugary snack or drink and see if this affects energy and focus.

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Q5: How do I implement the Nurturing Hearts approach if my 2-year-old feels patronizing? I applaud the little things he fails on a regular basis.

If your child is rejecting the Nurtured Heart Approach’s attempts at positive parenting, don’t get discouraged just yet. should ultimately pay off. However, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to improving behavior. Dr. Robert Brooks suggests using “ability islands” and contribution activities that incorporate a child’s strengths and interests. He could also consider Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Daily Special Times, or this list of reader suggestions.

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Q6: Are there natural ways to support children with both ADHD and anxiety?

Ask your child’s pediatrician or licensed physician about inositol and theanine supplements, which are known for their calming effects on the brain. Inositol is part of the vitamin B complex, and theanine is found in green tea. It is an amino acid. Many essential oils, such as lavender and frankincense, are commonly used for relaxation. Please consider.

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The content of this article is based on questions submitted by live attendees during the ADDitude ADHD Experts webinar titled “Lifestyle Changes That Have the Biggest Impact on Children with ADHD”. [Video Replay & Podcast #414] With MD’s Sandy Newmark, broadcast live on August 4, 2022.

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