Any kind of stressful circumstances can worsen the symptoms of ADHD. As a result, lifestyle changes are an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Improvements in your child’s environment, brought about by behavioral therapy, can reduce symptoms a great deal. Because most cases of ADHD are diagnosed in childhood, many of these lifestyle changes are geared toward helping parents help their children cope with ADHD.
The following recommendations all have the same objective: reduction of stress and distractions to help focus your child’s attention. Children and adults with ADHD are more sensitive to these stressors than the average person.
Some research has shown that behaviors like fidgeting, pencil tapping, and constant movement in adolescents may serve a distinct brain function and help ADHD kids stay alert and on task. Some teachers and schools may take a different approach and allow children to move and fidget in a quiet manner (such as squeeze a ball or stand at the back of the room with work).
Talk to your family doctor or a mental health professional if symptoms worsen or you need help addressing these lifestyle changes.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd.html. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T231898/Attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-ADHD-in-adult. Updated November 23, 2015. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113926/Attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-ADHD-in-children-and-adolescent. Updated September 15, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/index.shtml. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Rapport M, Bolden J, Kofler MJ, et al. Hyperactivity in boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a ubiquitous core symptom or manifestation of working memory deficits? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 2009;37(4):521-534.
Stern T, Rosenbaum J, et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.
Understanding ADHD: Information for parents. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/Understanding-ADHD.aspx. Accessed August 14, 2012.
What is ADHD? Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/learning/adhd.html. Accessed August 14, 2012.
4/30/2008 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113926/Attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-ADHD-in-children-and-adolescent: Pfeiffer B, Henry A, Miller S, Witherell S. Effectiveness of Disc 'O' Sit cushions on attention to task in second-grade students with attention difficulties. Am J Occup Ther. 2008;62(3):274-281.
2/4/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113926/Attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-ADHD-in-children-and-adolescent: Hiscock H, Sciberras E, Mensah F, et al. Impact of a behavioural sleep intervention on symptoms and sleep in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and parental mental health: randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2015;350:h68.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×