Category Archives: Lifestyle Modifications

How to Talk to Your Child About ADHD Medication

Kids-On-MedicationAbout ADHD

Have you ever been so bored that you didn’t know what to do with yourself? Maybe your parents wanted you to sit and watch an old movie where everyone is always breaking into song. Sitting there, you might have felt fidgety and squirmy and wanted to bounce off the walls.

Imagine having that feeling a lot. That’s what it can feel like to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Feeling this way a lot of the time can make it difficult for someone to get work done at school or follow instructions given by a parent. Kids who have ADHD might yell out the answers to questions before other kids in class have a chance to raise their hands. They also can be disorganized, distracted, and forgetful. They might lose things and have trouble finishing assignments. They may move around a lot, talk nonstop, or interrupt other people’s conversations.

Most kids do some of these things some of the time, but when a kid is acting this way a lot of the time, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. One of these people can figure out if the kid has ADHD.

With help, kids with ADHD can learn to act differently. Sometimes medicine can help a kid take control of his or her behavior, but only a doctor can decide if ADHD medicine is needed.

Medicine and the Mind

There are a lot of different types of ADHD medicines. They don’t cure ADHD, but do help kids have better control of their behaviors. They help a kid with ADHD focus better, pay attention, not be as distracted, and be less hyperactive. If a kid stops taking ADHD medicine, the symptoms can come back.

ADHD medicines affect chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters (say: nur-OH-tranz-mit-urz). Neurotransmitters help send messages between nerve cells in the brain. Some of the medicines for ADHD are called stimulants, but instead of stimulating the person and making him or her more jittery, they help control ADHD symptoms. Stimulant medicines work right away, and kids taking them may notice an improvement very quickly.

Other ADHD drugs are called non-stimulants. Non-stimulants can take up to a few weeks to start working. The kid’s doctor and parents will decide which is the best medicine for the kid based on the kid’s symptoms.

The medicine comes in pills or capsules, liquid, and even a patch. The doctor will explain how often the kid needs to take the medicine. Parents and kids will have to work out a schedule for taking it so it becomes part of the normal routine, like teeth brushing.

It might take a while to find the right medicine and the right amount (the dose) that works best for a kid. While this is getting worked out, it can be frustrating for the kid and parents who want things to get better. Once the right medication is found, things often start to improve for someone with ADHD.

And just like with any medicine, the kid’s parents and doctors will want to watch for side effects, which are other problems or symptoms that may be caused by the medicine. Not all kids have side effects. But those who do might have a decreased appetite, stomachache, headache, trouble sleeping, or irritability (feeling grouchy).

How Therapy Can Help

Along with medicine, behavior therapy can help kids with ADHD. This means learning a different way of doing things and learning ways to stay calm and keep focused.

To do this, a kid and his or her parents might see a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, social worker, or counselor). As part of behavior therapy, teachers and parents might create charts or other systems for rewarding the kid for meeting goals that have been set.

At school, kids with ADHD might need to work on staying seated or finishing class work. At home, the goals might be remembering to put dirty clothes in the hamper and keeping track of important things, like shoes and backpacks.

Once a kid can meet these goals, he or she will probably feel happier, which is the best medicine of all!

Taken from

Reviewed by: Shirin Hasan, MD

Date reviewed: July 2014

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Omega-3 Fats Improve Behavior in Children


Proper nutrition during early childhood is essential for proper brain function. Poor nutrition in early childhood is associated with increased aggressive behavior through adolescence by negatively impacting brain structure and function. Brain abnormalities have been found not just in adults with aggressive behavior problems but also in children with aggressive behavior. As a result, improved nutrition through adolescence is thought to possibly help with behavior problems.

Click the Pic to learn more!

Sleep Tips for Young Children


Taken from A.D.D. Warehouse News

Every child is different and requires a different amount of sleep to be healthy and function well.  On average a 5 to 12 year old should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep.

If your child has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep try the following tips:

  • Offer a snack before bedtime.
  • Make bedtime the same time every night and make sure the child is engaging in a quiet activity before bedtime to prevent overarousal.
  • Develop a bedtime routine: bath, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, read a story, etc so the child can form good sleep habits.
  • Stick to the bedtime you have set. Make it a rule that has to be followed so that the child does not test the limits every night.
  • Encourage the child to fall asleep on their own.  Parents should avoid staying in bed with their child until the child falls asleep. The child who falls asleep on his or her own will be better able to return to sleep during normal nighttime awakenings and sleep throughout the night.

Keep last “goodnights” short. Say “goodnight” when it’s time for you to leave the room and try not to come back if your child calls for you.

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Homework Helpers

• Set up a certain time and area in which to do homework. Allow your child to have a say in where he or she does their homework. It is important for your child to feel comfortable. If your child gets distracted easily, make sure they end up in an area you are able to monitor when needed.

• Children who take medication for AD/HD may find that the medicine has worn off by the time they start their homework. Talk with your doctor to see if there are any other options (i.e. splitting the dose throughout the day, adding a short-acting dose in the afternoon).

• Form a launch pad close to the exit of your home. This can be a table or a cubby where your child prepares their completed homework for school the next day. Provide labels and checklists to ensure he or she does not forget anything. Children are more likely to forget something if they are scurrying around in the morning before leaving for school.

• The demands placed on your child may be higher than they are equipped to handle. Research online or ask a friend from another school what their child is doing for homework. Sometimes they may be given much more than they are capable of taking on. If you think so, carefully approach the subject with your child’s guidance counselor.

• Exercise! Exercise is proven to improve focus. If your child is struggling to stay focused during homework, do some jumping jacks together or have them take a break to play outside for a bit. This will increase blood flow to the brain and help them focus more when they return to their homework station. You can even educate your child by saying things like, “Did you know that exercises like jumping jacks can help your brain grow strong and help you stay awake during your homework? Let’s try it out!”

• Provide external reminders. It is natural for parents to want their children to be independent; however children with AD/HD or other cognitive challenges are unable to be as independent as we would like. Keep in mind that the part of their brain that reminds them of tasks or that organizes their thoughts is not like yours. Sometimes children need external cues to help them remember things and if so, you should be the support system that provides those cues. This does not mean you need to do everything for them all the time, but it does mean you may need to prompt them more times than you feel is necessary. Ultimately, the goal is to help them succeed in school which most times require a little help from mom and dad.

• Communicate with your teacher on ways to help your child remember their homework. Does she write it on the board? Does she email assignments to parents? Get the scoop on how your child’s teacher operates. It may be something as simple as your child writing assignments in a notebook and the teacher initialing beside it.

Tips for Developing Healthy Self-Esteem


Most parents are aware that their child’s feelings of self-worth are linked with their success socially and academically.  Research shows that children with learning disabilities are more likely to suffer from lack of self-esteem than their peers.  The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities, along with Dr. Robert Brooks, have compiled a list of ways parents can develop positive feelings of self-worth in their children.

 Help your child feel special and appreciated.  Research indicates that one of the main factors that contributes to a child developing hope and becoming resilient is the presence of at least one adult who helps the child to feel special and appreciated; an adult who does not ignore a child’s problems, but focuses energy on a child’s strengths.  One way for parents to do this is to set aside “special time” during the week alone with each child in the household.  If the child is young, it is even helpful for the parent to say, “When I read to you or play with you, I won’t even answer the phone if it rings.”  Also, during these special times, focus on things that your child enjoys doing so that he/she has an opportunity to relax and to display his/her strengths.

Help your child to develop problem-solving and decision making skills.  High self-esteem is associated with solid problem-solving skills.  For example, if your child is having difficulty with a friend, you can ask him/her to think about a couple of ways of solving the situation.  Don’t worry if your child can’t think of solutions immediately, you can help him/her reflect upon possible solutions.  Also, try role playing situations with your child to help demonstrate the steps involved in problem-solving.

Avoid comments that are judgmental and, instead, frame them in more positive terms.  For example, a comment that often comes out in an accusatory way is, “try harder, and put in more of an effort.”  Many children do try hard and still have difficulty.  Instead say, “we have to figure out better strategies to help you learn.”  Children are less defensive when the problem is cast as strategies that must be changed rather than as something deficient with their motivation.  This approach also reinforces problem-solving skills.

Be an empathetic parent.  Many well-meaning parents, out of their own frustration, have been heard to say such things as, “Why don’t you listen to me?!” or “why don’t you use your brain?”  If your child is having difficulty with learning, it is best to be empathetic and say to the child that you know he/she is having difficulty; then the parent can cast the difficulty into a problem to be solved and involve the child in thinking about possible solutions.

Provide choices for your child.  This will also minimize power struggles that may arise.  For example, ask your child if he/she would like to be reminded 5 or 10 minutes before bedtime to get ready for bed.  These beginning choices help to set the foundation for a feeling of control of one’s life.

Do not compare siblings.  It is important not to compare siblings and to highlight the strengths of all children in the family.

Highlight your child’s strengths.  Unfortunately, many youngsters view themselves in a negative way, especially in terms of school.  Make a list of your child’s “islands of competence” or areas of strength.  Select one of these islands and find ways of reinforcing and displaying it.  For example, if your child is a wonderful artist, display his/her artwork.


Building Competency Through Chores


This article was originally published by Joyce Cooper-Kahn, PhD and can be found at the following website:


MANY YEARS AGO, MY FAMILY AND I SPENT A FEW DAYS at a bed-and-breakfast on a working dairy farm.  Our three-year-old son rose way too early, and we went down to the dining room with bleary eyes for some coffee and breakfast.  Polite and upbeat even at that early hour, our server Anna greeted us.  We soon learned that Anna was the sixteen-year-old daughter of the owners of the farm.

Anna took our order, and once she had placed the food on the table, asked, “Is there anything else you need?  If not, would you mind if I go upstairs now and clean your room?  I’m hoping that I can get my chores done early so I can get some time to go horseback riding this afternoon.”

Impressed by her work ethic and thoughtfulness, I said, “It’s really nice of you to help your parents this way.”

Anna looked at me for a moment, seemingly confused by my comment.  Finally she said softly, “How else could my parents do all this without my help?”

My experience with Anna was a turning point as a parent and as a psychologist.  While my own experience with doing household chores had already predisposed me to seeing their value, I began to view chores from a psychologist’s perspective as well.

I sought out research about chores, and I soon learned that research validates the importance of allowing children to be contributing members of the family.  Chores provide an opportunity for children to learn values and acquire skills that set a foundation for their development.  They also offer the circumstances that allow children to build competence and confidence, thereby increasing their likelihood of lifelong success.

Based on what I learned I began to incorporate chores into the treatment plans for many of the children with ADHD with whom I worked (including my own!).

For many parents of children with ADHD, it often feels easier to just do the household chores themselves.  After all, it is daunting enough to get children with ADHD and executive challenges through the daily routines of getting to school and doing homework.  However, with just a few accommodations, we can help our children with ADHD to get up and running on household chores.

And really, couldn’t you use the help?

Children benefit from doing chores

Psychologist Edna Copeland offered a summary of the ways children benefit from chores in her audiotaped behavioral intervention program, titled The Joy of a Job Well Done, back in 1987.  Pointing to the outcome data at year forty of an ongoing Harvard longitudinal study, she noted that, out of all the many variables studied, one of the strongest predictors of adult happiness and success was the amount of meaningful work done as a child, including chores and extracurricular jobs outside the house.

While cultural changes in the United States over the last century have led to an increased focus on raising happy children, there has been less emphasis on raising competent and productive children, Dr. Copeland noted.  “The truth is that life requires more of us than being happy and life will require more of our children.”

More recent research on the benefits of chores for children is highlighted in the aptly titled book, How Much Is Enough? Everything You Need to Know to Steer Clear of Overindulgence and Raise Likeable, Responsible, and Respectful Children (Da Capo Press, 2003).

It is also important to note that shifts in the field of education have led to an emphasis on academic achievement, often at the expense of competence and productivity in other arenas.

Yet, chores offer a context in which children with ADHD can be successful and proud of their performance, even when their impulsiveness, inattention, or disorganization may lead to lackluster school achievement.

Getting started

Including children in household work (particularly when started at a young age) feels good to kids. In fact, young children often ask if they can help, yet we exclude them because we are “too busy” to let them help us.

The younger the child, the easier it is to engage her in doing chores.  That does not mean that you can’t initiate chores with older children or adolescents, but you should expect that it will take more time for them to settle into the new expectations.

You may want to introduce chores at a family meeting.  Tell your children that you have too much to do to complete all the household work yourself, and explain that you also want everyone to learn to contribute to the family.  When children feel needed, they are more likely to rise to the occasion.  So, do not ask them to do chores as a favor to you.  Ask for their help because you need it.

Praise and recognition are the best rewards for successfully completing chores.  Praise should not be excessive, but should be specific to the task and meaningful.  “The living room looks really nice now.  You did a great job.”  Or, “That was a lot of recycling to take out today!”

When you convey to your child that you are counting on him to complete his tasks, then you allow pride of ownership to kick in.  For this reason, you should not go behind your child and re-do what he has done.  If he has not performed up to standard (assuming you’re not expecting perfection), then praise him for the parts he did well and teach him how to do it better.  If you re-do the job, then your child will feel that his work is superfluous.

There are a variety of ways to divide up household chores.  Choose a system that suits your child’s temperament and your own.  A child (or parent) who prefers routines and dislikes change would benefit from assigned chores that are always the same, whereas a more flexible child might prefer to rotate chore assignments with siblings.  Some families develop a list of tasks that need to be done on a daily, weekly, or occasional basis and let the children pick from each column at a weekly family meeting.  Some parents choose and post daily jobs on a blackboard.

Whatever the chore system, it is best to set clear expectations for when tasks need to be done and what will happen if they are not completed.  A well thought-out plan presented in advance will minimize strong emotional reactions and power struggles.

If your child does not complete her chores by the specified time, how should you respond?  Consider asking your children what they think the consequences should be.  Perhaps you could create a rule that “chore time” comes before TV, computer and video game time.  Only when chores are completed does your child have electronic access.  For social children, perhaps they must complete chores before they can play with friends.

Some families set up a weekend time when everyone in the family does their weekly jobs, and no one goes out until the jobs are complete.

Posting a chore board with space to check off tasks on a daily basis helps to remind children of their chores and offers visible recognition of their contributions.

Many children with ADHD, particularly those who have significant problems with executive functioning or who tend to be oppositional, are already on behavioral systems that incorporate points and rewards.  If so, it is helpful to include chores in the point system.

Expect complaints, at times, particularly from oppositional children or when you first initiate chores with older children.  So, what should you do when your child complains about doing chores?  Rather than arguing with him, consider aligning yourself with his perspective instead. After all, don’t you complain about household tasks sometimes, even if it is only inside your own head?  Admittedly, your child is more likely to complain out loud. “Why do I have to take out the trash?  I hate these stupid chores!”  Your reply?  “I know!  Me, too!  I hate shopping and cooking and doing laundry all the time.  But they do need to be done.”  Your tone is important here.  If the child feels you are making fun of him or being demeaning, then you negate the effects of the shared experience.  If the complaining continues, sometimes the best reply is a silent shrug of the shoulders.  Then stick to the consequences you have laid out in advance if the chores are not done.

Don’t be fooled by complaining.  The same child who whines about chores to you may still get on the phone with a grandparent and say, “I took out the trash all by myself!”  Similarly, I have heard teens complain about “doing all the work,” but then express negative judgments about peers who are “pampered” and “don’t even do any chores.”  Even though they may complain, children who do chores seem to recognize their importance.

Modifications for executive functioning weaknesses

Children and teens with ADHD and executive functioning challenges may need extra help to plan and persist with chores.

Does your child have difficulty with organizing and remembering the steps to complete a task?  Sit down with her and create a step-by-step list of what each job involves.  Be clear about the specific expectations.  Do you expect your child to move the knickknacks when he dusts the living room?  Do you want the top of the refrigerator cleaned in the kitchen?  Laminate the list of steps so that she has a template to use each time she does the chore and so that she can check off each step as she completes it.

Does your child have difficulty with getting started on tasks?  Then you will likely need to set aside a specific time each day for chores so that they become routines.  Initially, you will probably need to give a warning that “chore time” is coming up and signal when it is time.  You may even need to start the task with her to get her rolling.

Is it a complex, multi-step task?  Then maybe it should be completed over several days so as not to be overwhelming.

If your child tends to have difficulty with accurately assessing his own work, then you will need to highlight the process of reviewing and analyzing his own work.  For example, when your child announces that he has completed a task, you can instruct him to go back and “be the parent.”  “Go stand in your room and look at it as if you were the parent.  Would you say that it’s all cleaned up?  If not, take a moment and fix it.”

Many children with ADHD also have language processing weaknesses.  If that is the case for your child, offer hands-on learning when you introduce a chore.  Walk her through the steps by doing the job with her at first.  After that, use the “guided practice” model common in classrooms; stay nearby when she first does the job on her own so that you can guide her if she misses a step.

With creativity and a little extra thought, we can include our children with ADHD in household work.  When we do so, we help them to develop into capable young adults who feel competent to take care of themselves.  What an opportunity!

Parent Guidelines for Chores

  • Treat chores as a necessity, not a favor
  •  Don’t re-do your child’s job after him. Instead, teach your child to do the job well with some allowances for imperfection.
  • Apply basic rules of behavior management when you teach a child to do a chore or when you first introduce chores to an older child:
    • Provide lots of positive reinforcement.
    • Praise your child for what he has done right before telling him what he has done wrong.
    • Take a teaching versus a punishing approach.

Focus on chore completion rather than attitude.  Attitude follows behavior, so praise your child for doing the task and deal with the attitude, if necessary, once the chore routines are well established.

Chores to Grow On


  • Match the socks from the clean laundry
  • Take recycling to the storage bin
  • Bring in the newspaper and mail
  • Help set the table
  • Help make the bed
  • Help feed and water pets
  • Help change the towels (put dirty towels into the hamper)
  • Help clean up spills
  • Dust accessible surfaces


  • Help with cooking and cleaning in the kitchen
  • Pack lunch
  • Clear the dishes
  • Load and start dishwasher
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Sort laundry; use the washer and dryer
  • Dust
  • Vacuum
  • Outdoor chores (such as planting, weeding, raking)
  • Take out the trash
  • Care for pets
  • Clean the bathroom


  • Mow the lawn and other yard work
  • Laundry
  • Care for younger siblings
  • Pack lunches for self and other family members
  • Plan and cook meals
  • Clean interior and exterior of car

Experienced drivers can run errands

Age-Appropriate Chores for Children


I have had quite a few parents come to the staff here at NPC with concerns regarding chores. Some parents wonder if their child is too young to do chores, some wonder if they are too old. Here, I have posted a chart from that gives tons of good chores for each age group. Enjoy!

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