Monday, June 27, 2011

What can you do if your Child Becomes Resistant?

What can you do if  your child becomes resistant to your suggestions of goals that he will accomplish this Summer?

This is a tough problem, because the more suggestions that you make to your child that he does not want to hear, the more resistant he will become. For instance, I am working with a few children who are entering high school in the Fall. Every time that I say the word independent, they begin to shut down. Therefore, I use another word, such as responsible or accountable, which works so much better.

If you believe that a goal on which you are working is critical for him to accomplish by the end of the summer, however, it may be especially frustrating to move on to another goal, but oftentimes, you have to do so. Even though you may have collaborated with your child in terms of which goals are important for him to reach by the end of the summer, he may, without warning, decide not to work on those goals. Your only recourse is to take a small part of that goal and work on only that part instead of the entire goal. 

For example, say that the goal on which he is working is to become more responsible and includes keeping the floor of his room clear of Legos, preparing his own lunch, taking the dog out regularly and feeding him, taking his dirty clothes down to the washer each day so that you can wash them, etc. Decide collaboratively with your child as to which two items that he has to do each day. When you are helping him to choose, however, make sure that you give him a choice of two out of three or four, so that he maintains control, while at the same time, decides to accomplish some of his goals.

Let me know if this method works….

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer is Here: How do I Keep my Child with ADHD Busy?

We all desperately wait for summer to come. However, I often hear worry and concern in parents’ voices, in terms of how to keep their child busy and productive during the long summer days.

Remember that structure is the most important word to remember and follow when managing children and adolescents with ADHD. Structure is especially important during the summer, when loose, relaxed time could be empty time. Yes, it is important to enjoy some time hanging out, but even that type of time should be structured.

The following should be included in each and every day of the child with ADHD’s summer: (Each of these decisions must be decided upon collaboratively with your child, so that they feel that their input is important, as it should be)

Reading: Decide which books to read as well as how many pages to read each day.

Computer time: Decide on your child spending no more than one hour at a time on the computer. Make sure to designate exactly which hours he will spend on the computer.

Video games: Decide on your child spending no more than one hour playing video games. Make sure to designate exactly which hours he will spend playing video games.

Exercise: Depending on the age of the child, each and every one of them should exercise each day. Children under seven should work up to exercising approximately 10 minutes a day, children from eight to 10 should work up to exercising 15 minutes a day, etc. Remember that definitive research has found that exercise helps to diminish hyperactivity and helps children with ADHD to focus. Therefore, it would help your child to focus better and decrease his hyperactivity, if he exercised for a short time, two times a day.

Playing outside with other children:  This is as old-fashioned as it gets.  However, it is so important, in terms of increasing the child with ADHD’s social interaction, as well as being involved in creative, imaginative play.

Chores: Designate a few chores that your child must do each day. Collaboratively, design a checklist, so that he will feel ownership of his completion of his chores, which will add to his self-esteem. Children with ADHD need to learn how to become responsible and accountable and doing a chore each day will teach him those qualities.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

End of the School Year Difficulties: Let Us Help Each Other!

It is hard to believe, but the end of another school year is coming. Here are some issues that you might be dealing with right now:

Ø Your child is beginning high school in the Fall, but you are concerned that he is too immature to manage the multitasking that high school requires.

Ø Your child refuses to agree to attend any activities this summer. Instead, he just wants to “hang out” at home.

Ø Your child seems addicted to technology, and refuses to spend any time that is not on his Ipad, computer, Nintendo DS, Ipod or television.

Ø All year, your child has become more successful at both completing his homework as well as remembering to hand it in to his teacher. The last couple of weeks, he has become resistant in terms of not completing his homework.

Let us have a conversation. Have you have success at solving the above issues?
What have you done??? Please help each other!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is there a Cause and Effect Relationship Between Artificial Food Dyes and ADHD?

It seems as if there has been a lot of discussion lately as to whether or not artificial food dyes affect the symptoms of ADHD. This is not the first time that this topic has been discussed. Feingold (1975) proposed the possibility that there were environmental causes of hyperactivity, such as allergies to food additives, i.e., artificial flavors, preservatives and colors in a child’s diet.  However, definitive research has not been found to substantiate Feingold’s claim.

Recently, there has been renewed discussion, however, as to whether or not there is a cause and effect relationship between artificial food dyes and ADHD.  Dr. Ruth Hughes wrote an article about this topic in the June issue of Attention, which is the magazine that is published by Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). She based her comments on a research study that was reported in the Lancet in 2007. As soon as the article that was written in Chadd’s Attention magazine is available, I will copy and paste the link into my blog. Until then, here is a summary of the facts of the article:

“The Food Advisory Committee concluded that the research is inadequate to conclude that food dyes have an adverse effect on children’s behavior.

A small number of kids who appear to be hypersensitive to foods and who are diagnosed with ADHD may respond well to a diet eliminating food dyes or other irritating foods.

If your child’s behavior or inattention gets worse after eating foods with artificial food dyes, then consider avoiding them. This will probably not make the symptoms of ADHD disappear, but it may reduce the severity.

A healthy diet is important for all children, but especially for children with ADHD.

If there does not seem to be an effect from eliminating foods with dyes and/or if avoiding food dyes is too expensive, too difficult, or creates too much tension in your relationship worth your child, then this may not be a change that is important in your child’s overall treatment.

About eighty per cent of all ADHD appears to be related to genetics. It is inherited. Other things in the environment may make the symptoms worse (no treatment, family stress, poor diet) and other factors may help to reduce the symptoms (good parenting, multimodal treatment, healthy diet). Our job as parents is to provide the best treatment and most supportive environment that we reasonably can” (Hughes, R. (2011). Artificial dyes and ADHD, Attention, p. 14).

Therefore, the results of the research that has been completed up until now is not definitive. Additionally, the results of the research are mixed and it is difficult to determine if there are effects of artificial food dyes on the symptoms of ADHD. The results “…suggest that there may be a low-level effect on behavior of children in general” (Hughes, 2011, p. 12). However, Hughes makes it clear that the severity of the symptoms of the distractibility, hyperactivity and impulsivity that are typically associated with ADHD are much more severe than what was found in the studies, thus far.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Bullies are Peer Evil" What do you Think?

One of the children with whom I work was discussing the other day how he had been bullied. He said, “I am sure that everyone has been bullied at one time or another.” I told him that that was not true. He then used a phrase that has stuck with me. He used the phrase, “peer evil” to describe children who are bullies. He did not know whether or not he got the phrase from a cartoon, or if he had made up that phrase. It really does not matter.

The point is that the impact of a child having been bullied lasts for many years, perhaps, for the rest of the child’s life. Those children who have been bullied know how it feels. You all have read the words that children expressed to me who have been bullied, as I reported in my book and then later on my blog. Those are words that are full of hurt and pain. However, I have never before heard a phrase such as “peer evil,” that clearly expresses anger on the part of the children who have been bullied.

 I was so interested to hear that the children who were bullied perceived the children who had bullied them as evil. Oftentimes, children who have been bullied cannot be convinced, as stated by adults, that those children are looking for power and that they are not “bad” kids, but rather, ones who are troubled.  

The only thing that children who have been bullied feel is rejected, embarrassed, humiliated and fearful. Do you think that it is healthy for children who have been bullied to perceive bullies (including those with ADHD!) as evil and feel a degree of anger towards them?