Here are some helpful sites that address both the diagnosis and what parents need to be aware of:
Above are three sites that were easily found doing a Google search on “parenting a child with ADHD”; there are of course many, many more, but these offer a nice combination of what to do vs. what not to do, along with the basic information any parent who has a child diagnosed with ADHD should know about.
TUMMY/DEEP BREATHING EXERCISE
Another tip that can help your child (whether or not they have a mental health diagnosis or ADHD specifically) is to learn to do something called “tummy breathing”. Tummy breathing is a focusing and calming exercise that helps your child’s brain and central nervous system to soothe itself and learn to focus more easily. Given that we live in an age of over-stimulation and constant demands placed on us by electronics and technology, this type of focused attention is starting to become a problem for many children, not just those with an ADHD diagnosis. Children with anxiety or anger problems will also greatly benefit from learning deep breathing. This technique is probably the simplest and easiest way to help your child gain the ability to calm themselves (also known as “self regulation”). Here are the steps to take to teach your child Tummy breathing:
- Consider playing soothing music such as classical or mediation music very quietly in the background. Silence is also appropriate. Having the TV on, loud or quick tempo music playing in the background, or people having nearby conversations will all be distractions and make it very difficult for your child to focus or receive any benefits from this exercise; find a place that is the quietest and least distracting that you can in your home. TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE.
- Find a stuffed animal that is about the size of your child’s abdomen; even better if it is their favorite.
- Place the stuffed animal on your child’s stomach while they are lying on their back. (If your child is older, they can sit up and simply place their hand over their lower abdomen).
- Ask the child to notice that, when they breathe in, the stuffed animal rises with their breath, and when they breathe out, the animal goes back down again.
- Depending on your child’s age and current attention span, you can do this activity anywhere from one minute to several minutes each day. You child simply watches the stuffed animal rise and fall with their breath. Eventually they can close their eyes and simply “feel” the rise and fall of their tummies. Over time, you can also encourage them to slow their breath down. The fact that the animal will only rise/fall if they are breathing from their diaphragm ensures that they are breathing deeply, but eventually you can ask them to try to deepen their breath even more.
- Choose a regular time during your child’s daily routine to practice this exercise (every night before the bedtime routine is ideal: the TV and electronics go off, the family time begins so that your child has a peaceful and soothing start to their sleep.)
- Do it with them. Studies have shown that practicing deep breathing has a positive effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. It also reduces anxiety and improves mental clarity. Plus, you are doing something pleasant and nurturing with your child; this is a “win/win” all around.If your child is having multiple issues managing their ADHD, or if they have other mental health or behavioral issues along with it and clearly need something more than medication to manage the disorder, consider therapeutic intervention for the child and possibly family.