ADHD in children - Symptoms, Treatment and role of parents
Do you notice your child constantly fidgeting, unable to pay attention in class, always interrupting others, and having an outburst of emotions all the time? This article will explain these behaviours that all come under the umbrella term called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Furthermore, it goes on to explain ADHD in children.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is known to be one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children. Symptoms of ADHD include impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattentive behaviours.
ADHD is mainly in children, particularly school children when they perform deviant behaviours in the classroom or around people. It is more common in boys than in girls.
Even adults are diagnosed with ADHD. Around 4-12% of children worldwide and approximately 4-5% of college students and adults have ADHD.
How is it different from normal behaviour in children?
You may wonder why all children throw tantrums and are restless and inattentive, so how should you differentiate between those with ADHD and those who are normal?
The National Institute of Mental Health defines Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as “a disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development”.
In this definition, the main focus is on the latter part of the sentence, which is “that interferes with functioning or development”, which means that compared to normal children, children with ADHD are affected to the extent that it acts as an obstacle to normal development.
- Besides affecting themselves, it causes distress to people at home and around them.
- Lastly, children with ADHD usually show the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, fidgeting, and impulsivity for around six months. Normal children with temper tantrums may not have a persistence of their behaviour and may calm down after some time.
Symptoms of ADHD in children
The symptoms of ADHD are perfectly defined and given in the DSM-5 in detail. Listed below is a more simplified and quicker-to-read version of the same.
Before beginning, it is essential to know that these symptoms should persist for six months for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD. These symptoms are noticeable before the age of 6, and they take place in more than one situation like home and school.
The signs of lack of attention are:
- Being easily distracted
- Short attention span
- Do not follow instructions to complete schoolwork, chores, etc.
- Unable to sustain an activity
- Losing things
- Forgetting things
- Unable to do tasks that are too hard
- They can’t pay close attention to detail and therefore are making silly mistakes
Hyperactivity and impulsivity
The signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity are:
- Often fidgets with, taps hands and feet.
- Cannot sit in one place
- Often run around
- Talks excessively
- Has trouble waiting for his/her turn
- Little or no sense of danger
- Unable to concentrate on tasks
Treatment of ADHD in children
The treatment of ADHD includes therapy and medications.
Therapeutic techniques have shown to be effective in the treatment of ADHD. Let’s look at some of them.
- Behavioural therapy
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, behavioural therapy helps modify the child’s behaviour. It is effective when done by parents and even by teachers and caregivers. Families can visit a therapist to understand more about the training methods.
One of the training methods that the therapist teaches the parents to use is positive reinforcement, which positively increases the likelihood of the behaviour occurring again due to a reward associated with it. So, for example, if the child completes his homework, he/she can be allowed to watch television for an hour.
Another technique taught to parents is to use “time out” to remove the desired activity like watching television if the child doesn’t do the homework.
Here, children can talk about the issues they face, and the therapist will help identify patterns of distress and work with the child to deal with the same.
A psychiatrist prescribes medications that help calm down the child and help manage their behaviours better so that it causes fewer problems to them and the people around them.
Medications include stimulants and non-stimulants depending on the child’s condition and severity.
The dosages may have side effects like eating and sleeping problems. Thus, consult your doctor for proper advice about the same.
What can you do as a parent?
- Try and keep your child on a schedule.
You can make sure that your child follows the daily itinerary and systematically does things right from brushing teeth, eating, bathing till sleeping at night.
Make sure he/she follows this routine every single day. This routine helps them to be more organized.
- Make sure you do the techniques suggested to you by the therapist.
Apply the various techniques suggested. Be patient and calm during the whole process, and know that things will gradually get better.
- Create more positive experiences
The behaviour of children with ADHD causes adults to shout at them. As a result, this has an impact on their psyche.
Therefore make sure not to let them feel bad about themselves and engage them in activities that will help boost their self-esteem. For example, please encourage them to participate in sports, art-making, dancing, singing, etc.
- Encourage social interaction
Everyone learns through observation and the experiences of others. You can encourage your child to model other’s behaviours, recognize the good in them, and have interactions with their peers.
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