One of the most exciting things about a new year is the opportunity for positive change. If your child has ADHD, there are several resolutions you can implement as a family to make living with this condition a bit easier.
Improve Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is important for any child or teen, but it is especially beneficial for those with ADHD. Researchers note that about 25% to 50% of ADHD patients also have some kind of sleep disorder. Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to excessive daytime tiredness, emotional/behavioral issues, and difficulty paying attention.
Establishing good sleep habits can help. Help your child to follow a set sleep schedule (getting up and going to sleep at the same time daily). It also helps to turn off any electronic device (including phones, television, or tablets) for at least an hour before sleep and to keep the bedroom a cool, quiet, and dark place for a good night’s rest.
Create and Follow an Exercise Action Plan
Exercise isn’t just about keeping in shape. Scientists have found a link between physical activity and behavioral, mental, and physical improvements in children with ADHD. A 2019 study designed a short-duration, varied program specifically with ADHD kids in mind. It found that such programs have a moderate to large impact on symptoms typically associated with ADHD.
To develop an exercise action plan, consider signing your child up for non-competitive activities like running or swimming. Martial arts is another option to consider. It is also a good idea to integrate activities — like walks or bike rides — into your home life and work with your child’s teacher to increase activity at school.
Increase Whole Foods in Your Child’s Diet
Nutrition matters for any child. It matters even more for children with ADHD. Make a resolution to increase whole foods in your child’s diet. This can include protein-rich foods like meat, nuts, eggs, and beans, especially in combination with complex carbohydrates like whole grains or oatmeal (to avoid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels). Iron-rich foods like lean red meat and shellfish can also help since children with ADHD often have lower iron levels than non-ADHD peers.
In short, if you are wanting to use the excitement of the new year to make positive changes in your child’s life, making these resolutions for better sleep, activity and diet can give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to managing the challenges of ADHD.