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ADHD in Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
ADHD is a condition that affects your child's behavior. Your child may be overactive and have a short attention span. ADHD may make it difficult for him or her to do well at home or in school. He or she may also have problems getting along with other people. ADHD usually starts before age 12 and is more common among boys. The exact cause of ADHD is not known.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:
- Your child has hurt himself or herself, or someone else.
- You feel like hurting your child.
Call your child's doctor if:
- You feel you cannot help your child at home.
- Your child's ADHD prevents him or her from doing most of his or her daily activities.
- Your child has new symptoms since the last time he or she visited the healthcare provider.
- Your child's symptoms are getting worse.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
- Medicines may be needed to help your child pay attention. Medicines to decrease or prevent depression and anxiety may also be given.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:
Your child will need to have regular visits with his or her healthcare provider to make sure his or her medicine is working. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Ways to support your child:
- Be patient with your child. Try to stop his or her behavior problems quickly so they do not get out of control. It will not help to yell at your child to get him or her to behave. Stay calm and be direct. Always give him or her eye contact and explain why the behavior needs to stop. Try to be patient as your child learns new ways to behave well.
- Praise your child for good behavior. Children often respond better to praise than to criticism. It may be helpful to set up a reward system with your child. For example, your child can earn points or tokens for good behavior to exchange for something he or she wants.
- Help your child understand tasks he or she needs to do. Make eye contact with your child and give him or her 1 task. Let your child complete the task before you give him or her a new task. Work with his or her teachers to make sure you know what homework is assigned and when it is due. Your child may need to start working on assignments well before they are due. He or she may need to work for short periods at a time. A homework notebook can help your child keep track of assignments and make sure he or she turns in the work.
- Help your child manage stress. Stress may make your child's ADHD worse. Teach your child how to control stress. Ask about ways to calm his or her body and mind. These may include deep breathing, muscle relaxation, music, and biofeedback. Have your child talk to someone about things that upset him or her.
- Feed your child healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, lean meat, and fish. Healthy foods may help your child feel better. Your child's healthcare provider may want your child to follow a special diet or one that is low in fat. Your child should drink water, juices, and milk. Limit the amount of caffeine your child drinks. Limit foods that are high in sugar, such as candy. Sugar and caffeine may make ADHD symptoms worse.
- Create a schedule for your child. Put the schedule in a place where your child can see it. The schedule should include a regular time to go to bed and get up in the morning. Do not let your child watch TV, use the computer, or play video games before bed. Electronic devices can make it hard for your child to go to sleep or stay asleep. During the day, create homework, play, chore, and rest times for your child. Your child may have an easier time remembering to do things if he or she follows a schedule. Try not to schedule too many activities for a day or week. Your child needs quiet time along with scheduled activities.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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