As a parent, you may notice your child having difficulty focusing. Children with ADHD tend to be more inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive than what is considered normal for peers their age. For any child, concentration is a skill that requires regular exercise to strengthen. If your child is having trouble focusing, it will not only impact their learning in school, but also in their everyday life.
Fortunately, medications are not the only option for managing symptoms of ADHD. If your child has trouble focusing, there are natural solutions to try. Learn more in this article.
Natural Ways to Help Your ADHD Child Focus
While medications are a common treatment modality for children and adults with ADHD, it is not the only solution. There are ways to help your child without using ADHD medications. For instance, paying attention to things we can all control like nutrition, exercise, sleep, amount of time spent outside, and sugar intake are all important factors in one’s ability to focus. These natural remedies improve ADHD symptoms.
Keep reading to learn about seven non-medication-related ways to help your child with ADHD focus.
Make Dietary Changes
Did you know that what your child eats regularly can be a large contributor to their behaviors?
Eating healthy foods has been associated with how well a child is able to concentrate and there are various foods that can help develop a child’s concentration and attention-related skills. For instance, foods that are rich in protein like almonds, eggs, and lean meats have the ability to increase awareness and a child’s ability to concentrate.
Depending on your child’s age, doctors recommend that children get between 24 to 30 grams of protein per day.
Additionally, adding more omega-3-rich foods to your child’s diet should be considered, as omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce symptoms of ADHD. The best ADHD diet for kids contains loads of Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the following:
- Soy products
- Fish, such as salmon
While monitoring everything your child eats can be difficult and practically impossible, it is important to ensure your child is following a balanced diet with whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, fish, and lean meats.
Adding natural ADHD supplements in your child's diet could also be beneficial.
Routine Blood Work
There are some deficiencies or imbalances that can contribute to hyperactivity, poor focus, and mimic other symptoms of ADHD. Routine blood work to check for anemia, elevated lead levels, and Vitamin deficiencies can be very helpful during an initial ADHD evaluation and throughout its management.
Studies support that iron deficiency and low iron stores (ferritin) can cause hyperactivity or poor focus. Anemia can lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and brain fog. Elevated lead levels often go hand in hand with low iron levels as these metals compete for absorption in the body, so assessing lead level is important as well, especially for children living in an older home or drinking well water.
Low vitamin D levels can also contribute to fatigue and poor sleep and are very common in parts of the world with long, dark winter, or in children who do not spend much time outside.
None of these issues actually cause ADHD, but their symptoms can mimic it and lead to a misdiagnosis when a simple iron or vitamin supplementation can be of help.
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Have you ever heard the saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? Well, it is true. Researchers indicated that eating a good quality breakfast each morning before school is correlated with better school performance in children. Therefore, making sure your child is eating breakfast daily is important.
The type of breakfast matters as well. High-sugar breakfasts like toaster pastries or many cereals provide quick energy but do not last throughout the day. Although sugar doesn't cause ADHD kids to be more hyperactive, they could burn through the quick burst of energy fast and be tired later.
Breakfast foods with a higher fat or protein content (eggs, yogurt, peanut butter, avocado, etc) will provide your child with the sustained energy needed to get through their day.
Get Enough Exercise
According to the American Heart Association, a child should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, each day.
For children with ADHD, a long day of sitting at their desks in school could feel like torture. Making sure your child has an outlet to get out excess energy is crucial in managing symptoms of ADHD. Here are some ideas to encourage your ADHD child to exercise throughout the week:
- Participate in team sports
- Suggest a family walk after dinner
- Practice yoga
- Go for a bike ride
- Engage in martial arts
- Less screen time, more time outdoors
These activities would help your ADHD kid focus in school.
Healthy Sleep Routine
Sleep is an important aspect of a child’s development, and it becomes even more pertinent for a child with ADHD to get adequate sleep. Not only is the amount of sleep important, but so is the quality of sleep. To encourage your child in following good sleeping habits, parents should try the following:
- Limiting screen time before bed (no screens at least two hours before bed)
- Sticking with a consistent bedtime schedule and routine
- Keeping the bedroom dark and the environment conducive to sleep
In addition, children with ADHD might benefit from having a “soothing” ritual to help them wind down for bed. This can include activities like, reading a bedtime story, listening to calming music, or practicing mindfulness exercises/deep breathing together.
Spend Time Outside
Spending time outdoors is a great opportunity for your child to get out any excess energy that they might have. Engaging in outdoor activities can help children with ADHD improve their concentration skills.
A 2011 study found that children who spent more time in outdoor green spaces had a reduction in the severity of ADHD symptoms.
Spending time outside can look like a variety of different things based on interests, but here are some ideas to get you and your child started:
- Have an outdoor picnic (don’t forget to pack your and your child’s favorite snacks!)
- Garden with your child
- Go on a hike and explore nature
- Go to the local park
- Go to your local zoo or kid’s festival
- Set up an outdoor playdate with one of your child’s peers
- Play a boardgame outside
Consider Behavioral Therapy
For children and even teenagers with ADHD, behavioral therapy can be extremely beneficial. The American Academy of Pediatrics indicated that behavioral therapy should be the “first step in treating ADHD in young children.” But what is behavioral therapy and why is it so helpful?
Behavioral therapy is designed to resolve problematic and maladaptive behaviors. It also creates solutions that will help prevent them. Otherwise known as behavioral modification, behavioral therapy can teach children skills that will only continue to benefit them as they grow older.
For instance, children with ADHD tend to have impulsive behaviors that can create conflict at home or in school. Behavioral therapists work with parents to use positive reinforcement and praise more effectively, as well as stick with consequences to diminish unwanted behaviors from the child. Not only is behavioral therapy a great treatment option to manage symptoms of ADHD, but it also is an effective way to establish positive relationships and grow connections with you and your family.
If behavioral therapy sounds like something your child would benefit from, consult with your child’s pediatrician, or check with your insurance provider to inquire about behavioral therapists in your area.
Helping children with ADHD focus and concentrate better can be exhausting for parents and families. It takes determination and flexibility to try new strategies as you learn about them.
Also, it is important to remember that one technique isn’t going to be a cure-all for your child’s symptoms of ADHD, and what is helpful for one child might be disliked by another child. That is normal! Luckily, there are tons of different natural strategies that you can choose from.
Now that you have a good handle on natural techniques that can improve your child’s attention, it is time to give it a try! From incorporating a better diet to spending more time outdoors, your child will begin to live a healthier and more comfortable life. Not only will these natural solutions help manage your child’s symptoms of ADHD, but they will also help strengthen the relationship between you and your family.