Written by Dr. Carosso
Traditional approaches, for better or worse
You all know the traditional approaches to helping kids with ADHD. Children are often prescribed medication, and a number of behavioral approaches are used in the classroom including sitting away from distractions, near the teacher, calling on these children more often, and using sticker charts for success in completing assignments. These approaches have varying success rates; sometimes the distractions are too tempting, and some kiddos can’t tolerate medication.
A ‘stationary disorder’
For lack of a better description, ADHD can be considered a stationary disorder; the child has a very hard time remaining stationary. They have an overwhelming compulsion to move, fidget, look around the room, and get out of their seat.
If you can’t beat’em, join’em
We spend so much time trying to keep our ADHD kids stationary that we end up, as someone very important once said, ‘kicking against the goads’ (your quiz for the week is figuring out who said that). Anyway, why fight it; if your child wants to move then, by all means, let’em move.
A recent study
At Michigan State (study published in Journal of Pediatrics), they found kids functioned significantly better on an lengthy academic task after 20 minutes of running around like a, well, running around a lot; compared to those who did not. They focused better and, if they made a mistake, were better-able to slow themselves to avoid making another error. By the way, there has been prior research suggesting that brisk activity in green space was even more calming.
Why not at home too?
Why not use this approach in brief stints throughout the day to help your child persevere through school, homework, before a trip to the store or church, and in any endeavor that requires sustained attention, self-control, and being stationary. Otherwise, you can keep kicking against the goads, which will make both you and your kiddo quite frustrated. This approach should be incorporated into the school day (and for goodness sake, never have an ADHD child lose recess as punishment) and ensure the child is actually running vigorously rather than standing around playing video games or talking. You may want to get on your running shoes as well. We need more research to specify the necessary length of the activity; the research subjects were active for 20 minutes, but I’ve seen success at 8-10 minutes.
Give it a try
Let me know about your positive outcomes and how you’ve adapted this technique to make it more practical. I can be reached at email@example.com. Okay, let the running begin.