Nearly 10 percent of children in Georgia have been diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) according to the CDC. Before choosing to medicate them, parents can use a free, age-old treatment to support their children: meditation.
Researchers conducted two studies to determine that meditation can produce profound results. The first followed middle school students who had been diagnosed with ADHD. The children meditated twice when they were a day in school for three months. When the researchers re-ran their tests, they observed a staggering 50 percent reduction in stress, anxiety, and ADHD symptoms. Watch a video of the pupils before and after the study to see the change yourself. Check out this ABC news article.
The second study, which was lead by a neuroscientist, measured the effects of six-months of meditation on the brains of 18 students with ADHD. Compared with the children in the control group, those who used Transcendental meditation daily showed improved brain functioning, increased brain processing, and improved language-based skills.
What the meditation did
Meditation helps to make brain waves more coherent, meaning that brain waves work together instead of against each other. This is shown by increased ability to focus, and a lower level of stress. ADHD is a sign that a child or adult has experienced or witness significant emotional and mental stress, and that the stress is affecting their brain function and making is harder to learn.
One of the scientists in the second study, William Stixrud Ph.D. commented: “Prior research shows ADHD children have slower brain development and a reduced ability to cope with stress. Virtually everyone finds it difficult to pay attention, organize themselves and get things done when they’re under stress,” he explained. “Stress interferes with the ability to learn—it shuts down the brain. Functions such as attention, memory, organization, and integration are compromised.”
Ten things you can do to reduce ADHD symptoms in adults and children
- Look at your own behavior as a parent: Children copy what their parents do. If you are hyper, excitable, disorganized, or portray other ADD or ADHD behaviors, you may be teaching your kids to behave like a person with ADD/ADHD.
Not every child will copy their parents, however you have to take yourself out of the equation and ensure you’re not demonstrating ADHD behaviors.
- Reduce stress on your child and yourself. Ask them: “What stresses are in your life?” Listen carefully, ask the child to rate them (on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is high, 1 is low), and find out what they need to be able to cope with the stress. Be prepared to act to reduce the stress.
Children are smart, they know what they need, and they need to talk about their problems, not receive a lecture or be told what to do. Coach your child, don’t hand them solutions on a plate because when yoo do that, you teach them to be dependent and not to think for themselves.
- Meditate twice a day for twenty minutes each time. Check out online music stores for free and low price meditation music or a guided meditation. The guided meditations feature a voice, which can help you to relax and distract your mind so you or your child can relax. Your local library might also have some meditation CDs. Find a few you and your child like, and use them daily. Set a regular meditation time before and after school. Have your child choose which meditation CD they want to listen to, and allow them to set the time. Consider joining them so you both benefit!
- Play is essential. Remember, kids are children, they need to play. Its tempting, especially if you’re a single parent or if your children are teenagers, to treat them like mini-adults. Children and adults need to experience the playful side of life regularly. How are you demonstrating this to your children? Do you still play with your children in an age-appropriate way?
- Bring brainwaves into coherence daily by performing a three minute exercise named repatterning. Perform repatterning twice a day for 10 weeks in a row. If you miss a day, start the 10-week clock again. Repatterning helps both sides of the brain to integrate properly and effectively reduces stress. It can be done lying down, sitting, or standing, and benefits adults and children. Download the PDF instructions.
- Drink water at least 5-10 glasses of filtered water daily, not tap water, to keep the nervous system healthy. Dehydration is a wonderful way to ‘short circuit’ the nervous system and make challenging behaviors more likely. Water is essential for a healthy brain.
- Feed children natural foods every 2-4 hours depending on their activity level and time of day. The natural foods you choose need to contain plenty of protein to supply amino acids to the brain and nervous system.
Carbohydrates (preferably not from sugar or sweetners) also have to be included because they give the brain, nervous system, and body energy. Including fat in every meal and snack also helps to regulate the speed at which the energy is released into the blood and then throughout the brain and body. Sugars alone cause a rise in energy and then a crash, and can radically change behavior. Having worked in a school, I have seen this happen many times.
- Exercise daily with your children: spend time with them. We as human beings have to move and be active. If we’re not, we gain excess weight and our energy stays all pent-up inside, often leading to difficulty getting to sleep at night or disturbing our ability to focus. When we wake the next morning after sleeping poorly or for too short a time, our energy is low, and we have a hard time feeling enthusiastic about work and school. Plus, you’ll crave sugary carbs or rely on coffee [caffeine] to kickstart your adrenal glands and wake you up.
- Get at least 8 hours in bed, especially if you’re under 25. If you’re physically active, then you need sleep to repair your body. Insufficient sleep, going to bed too late, and watching TV or using a computer or cell ‘phone within an hour of bed all disturb sleep.
- Show your children love, compassion, and understanding. At times it can be really hard to deal with unruly behavior. Consider sitting down with your children and together identify the behaviors you find challenging. Then ask them how they need to be dealt with when they engage in these behaviors if they’re not appropriate.
The advantages to this are that the child has a say in the consequences to their behavior – they know what to expect, and knowing what action to take can prevent you from getting angry and acting hastily. Having a plan of what to do when your child misbehaves enables you to be calmer and show compassion, and firm (rather than tough) love.