ADHD in Children: Healthy sleep habits, happy child
UK school nurse and counselor Ann Freeman, in the book Help Me Understand A.D.H.D., makes some notable comments for parents on the topic of ADHD in children. Among them is that ADHD is not an illness but rather it is a condition. This is a notable and significant statement that parents and educators should try to digest when considering the topic.
Freeman’s book is geared towards parents. She provides many practical suggestions on improving the quality of sleep for a child, and for addressing one of the issues that can be behind some of the symptoms of ADHD in children: the need for healthy sleep habits. A child who sleeps well at night is more likely to be a happy child. A good night’s sleep helps a child concentrate and focus better in school the next day. This is true also for teens, the majority of whom don’t get a complete night’s rest.
Here are 5 ideas for parents to promote healthy sleep habits and to address some of the symptoms of ADHD in children. Freeman recommends:
1. Run a bath for the child before bed, it helps children to wind down.
2. Read to your child before bed at night. Reading to a child before bedtime contributes to a feeling of security and can increase the bonds of love between the parent and child. It can help a child to get a better night’s sleep, especially if the parent is consistent.
3. Don’t interrogate the child before he or she goes to bed, that is don’t ask a barrage of questions about the day. Rather, make the minutes before bedtime calming, quality time between the parent and child that the child looks forward to each night.
4. Stroke your child’s arm when you put the child to bed. “Feeling cozy and secure in bed is comforting for them.”
5. “Having a television or computer n a child’s bedroom is not a good idea.”
The child could be tempted to play on the computer or watch the television unsupervised should they have difficulty sleeping, both of which are stimulating, and can cause over-tiredness and delay sleep. Remove both from the room.” Good advice!
Children (and teens), including those diagnosed with ADHD, often do watch TV and movies, play video games, and surf the Internet into the late night hours, school nights included. One teacher saw dramatic results in a child diagnosed with ADHD when the child’s mother took the television out of the child’s bedroom. Many of the child’s symptoms disappeared. The child got a better night’s sleep, and was better able to handle stress in school; his schoolwork performance also improved.
ADHD in children is not a losing battle. Parents can do much for their child, including promoting healthy sleep habits. Practical steps along these lines can make a big difference in the child’s performance and attitude in school. More suggestions can be found in the book Overcoming ADHD Without Medication: A Guidebook for Parents and Teachers.
Images: Photos 1,3,5 courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com Image 4 used by permission of the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health. http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3115&q=482586