Some health magazines say that specific types of food (including additives) have been shown to cause or worsen ADHD symptoms. If this is true, what are some foods that parents should avoid in their child’s diet?
Again this has never been proven. However, anecdotally, parents do notice that some children have increased hyperactive behaviour when given sweets and excessive sugar, what we call the sugar high. So avoiding sugar may be useful. It is important to remember that diet and removing additives cannot replace proper treatment. Otherwise the child continues to suffer the ADHD symptoms.
What are some ways that parents can help in managing their child’s ADHD symptoms?
First and foremost, parents will need to be educated about that ADHD is not unlike any other medical problems and ADHD children are not lazy, naughty or being wilful. As such, what parents need to do is not be punitive but to approach the symptoms with patience and compassion and to assist the child with managing his or her symptoms.
Parents should consult their child's psychiatrist in learning about the specific approaches they can adopt. These will usually include setting up firm and consistent boundaries and routines for the child, rewarding and encouraging positive behaviour and meting out the appropriate consequences for bad behaviour. Adjustments to communication styles are important. Parents need to catch their child's attention before speaking to them rather than just yelling at them. Use as little words as possible as the ADHD child has poor attentional span and will not be able to follow long instructions.
What should parents do to avoid triggering or worsening their child’s ADHD symptoms?
The worst thing a parent can do is to avoid the issue altogether and not seek treatment. This deprives the child the chance to achieve his or her full potential and often leads to poor self-esteem, conduct problems and even substance abuses in adolescence.
Whilst parents do not worsen ADHD symptoms per se, if they are punitive towards the child with ADHD, this can lead again to low self-esteem. If they react aggressively to the child when the child acts impulsively, the child will pick up the aggression. Whilst it is not easy, patience and calmness helps the parents deal with ADHD symptoms in their children much more effectively