Parenting a Child With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

ADHD Symptoms in Children

Quick GuideADHD Pictures Slideshow: Tips for Parenting a Child With ADHD

ADHD Pictures Slideshow: Tips for Parenting a Child With ADHD

What are other therapeutic approaches for children with ADHD?

Diet

No specific food or diet has been clearly shown to have a significant positive or negative effect on the symptoms or course of ADHD. People with ADHD should eat a healthy diet and probably avoid caffeine, a stimulant. That having been said, some parents note that a dietary change (such as decreased refined sugar intake) is beneficial. If an individual is not deprived of necessary nutrients, there is certainly no harm in trying to follow such a dietary adjustment. A good rule of thumb is to discuss the proposed plan with the child's pediatrician.

Exercise

Regular physical activity has been shown to play an important role in some of the common related conditions (for example, depression, anxiety) and to improve concentration. Regular exercise may be beneficial in people with ADHD. Several studies on children with ADHD not taking medication have shown an improvement in concentration and reduction in inattentive and hyperactive behaviors if one hour of vigorous after-school play occurs before starting homework.

Alternative therapies

CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapies are considered and/or tried in over half of patients with ADHD. Many times these modalities are used covertly, and it is important for the treating physician to inquire about CAM to encourage open communication and review the risks versus benefits of such an approach. CAM treatment modalities incorporating vision training, special diets and megavitamin therapy, herbal and mineral supplements, EEG biofeedback, and applied kinesiology have all been advocated. The benefits of these approaches, however, have not been confirmed in double-blinded controlled studies. Families should be aware that such programs might require a long-term financial commitment that may not have insurance reimbursement as an option.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2016

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