Last updated on November 24th, 2023.
Children are wild. They have all that energy for growing, all these thoughts from their brains processing new information at the speed of light, and they see the world with new eyes. It’s expected that kids are going to be a little bananas from time to time, but some of them have it a little more than others.
ADHD is a common neuroatypical condition that can be evident in inattentiveness, hyperactivity, or a sliding scale combination of the two. Its also one of the most common types of mental disorders. It can show up as extreme hyper focusing on something interesting, leading to some great minds working overdrive. Keep reading to learn more about ADHD in children and effective treatments.
At What Age Do Children First Show Signs of ADHD?
Children have a lot of energy and lack of attention by nature. They are rapidly growing and learning new things at a breakneck pace. However, the signs of ADHD can show up as early as toddlerhood. The kids that go until they crash, get up, in, and on everything, and take extreme interest in specific things are all likely but not definite signs. Remember that all children are different and will present symptoms in their own way.
At What Age Can a Child Be Treated for ADHD?
Once a child reaches school age certain treatments start becoming available. A heavy number of documented symptoms need to be present for the diagnosis, though this number goes down the older the child gets. These come from a long list of potential symptoms since not every child is the same and therefore will showcase their ADHD in different ways.
3 Effective ADHD Treatments for Kids
The treatment options for a child with ADHD is going to be based on a combination of their age, symptoms, needs, and other medical factors.
Parental Training and Education
Chances are that regardless of what kind of treatment is chosen for the child, it will come with training and education for the parental unit(s). This helps the parent learn about behavior management and how to help their child themselves. This is also the first recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics in regard to treating children under the age of 6.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, helps to adjust the thought processes and behaviors associated with them. There are many behaviors that it can help work on improving.
Such behaviors that might be worked on include:
- Disruptive behaviors
- Keeping on track
- Building routines
- Learning healthy habits
- Dangerous tics and habits
- Social skills
This therapy method is a fantastic way to teach the child how to work with their condition instead of fighting against it. Learning the skills to grow into a healthy adult despite their condition is always the preferred method.
Younger children have been proven to have more side effects from ADHD medications, so they are usually only prescribed as a last resort. The other options give the family and child a proper developmental support system and develops skills. However, if it is recommended by a healthcare professional, there are two options for medication.
These options are:
Medications affect each child differently and many different medicines and doses may need to be tried before finding one that works for them. Most ADHD medications are stimulants and there have been a recorded 70-80% of ADHD children having fewer symptoms while taking them. Nonstimulants do not work as quickly but have a longer effect.
How Can I Reduce My Child’s ADHD Naturally?
The first step to helping a child with ADHD is becoming educated on the topic and helping them by building a support system around them. Being able to learn skills, not just by themselves but with those around them, is a massively helpful way to mitigate ADHD symptoms.
Here are some tips to help:
- Build routines and keep to schedules. Getting into routines is important for everyone, but children with ADHD need them quite a lot. It helps limit distractions and allows for a sense of stability. Additionally, once a routine is built, sticking to it is a must. That repetition is going to be something for them to focus on to the point it can cause serious distress if unexpectantly messed with.
- Organize everything. Make sure that everything has its place. Use labels, color coordination, and any other clever ideas limits the chances of forgetting where things go or where to put it, inevitably causing distraction. Additionally, make lists for them to go back to if they’ve forgotten.
- Limit available options. ADHD children easily get overwhelmed with too many options. However, removing options entirely is detrimental to their developmental health. Instead, limit the options to a select few to help manage.
- Manage Distractions. This does not necessarily mean taking them entirely away. Some children do excellent with background noises and grounding techniques or having something they are allowed to fidget with.
- Be clear, specific, and concise. This doesn’t mean to never joke, but when it’s important for them to pay attention, don’t give them more than necessary. Limit what they can get hung up on and distracted with.
- Establish healthy habits. Poor diet, sleep, and lack of exercise can make ADHD symptoms worse. Stress can hit hard as well, so be sure to find ways to mitigate stressors away from home. This might include setting aside specific winding down time during time together to relax and calm down.
- Be patient and positive. It’s not the child’s fault that they are ADHD. They might perceive the world differently and get easily distracted or hyper focused on things, but that is no reason to get upset with them. Be patient with them and help devise methods to keep them on track.
Most of these skills are things that will help everyone involved too. They’re all excellent skills to develop in the first place, they just also work wonders in helping an ADHD child focus on the right things.
What Therapy is Best for an ADHD Child?
Behavioral therapy that includes training for the parent(s) as well so that everyone can be on the same page. This allows everyone to work together to help the child learn the necessary skills to work with their condition. It’s also the most recommended method from the AAP for children under 6. A combination of behavioral therapy and medication has also shown great success in older children and adolescents. Explore the best early childhood mental health certifications to become a professional.
ADHD is a neuroatypical condition commonly understood as an inability to keep focus, however it can present itself in a number of ways. The basis of it is that attention is a hindering factor in a child’s development and skills, so parents should get involved making sure they learn the skills to cope. In the event that is not quite enough, there are prescription medications, both stimulant and not, that have been shown to reduce symptoms in the majority of studied cases.