HOW DID BUDDHA KNOW?!
Did you know that even hyperactive, inattentive, impulsive, aggressive, or angry ADHD children can find ways to become calm, quiet and focused on the present moment? “Mindfulness”—being attentive to what is happening right now and how it makes us feel—can have powerful, positive effects on the brains of ADHD children and teens. Brand-new scientific research has shown that this ancient practice can help treat ADHD symptoms in children, without medication.
Because of the unique way their brains are formed, children and teens with ADHD are often absent-minded and forgetful with short attention spans and even shorter memories. This struggle to stay focused at home and in school can lead to falling grades, difficulty finding and keeping friends, and emotionally charged clashes with parents, teachers, siblings, and peers.
If your ADHD child exhibits these common symptoms of ADHD, you should know that medication is not your only treatment option. In fact, one of the most exciting advances in natural ADHD treatment for children is actually very, very old: the Buddhist meditation technique of mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is based on Vipassana, a meditation technique from Buddhism. Its two main principles are simple:
- Be attentive to the present moment—now, and now, and now.
- Be open, accepting, and curious about the present moment, no matter what is happening, within or without.
Mindfulness is a key component of my holistic Plus-Minus Treatment Plan for ADHD children and I have seen the difference it can make every single day—even in children who “never sit still,” “don’t listen,” or “can’t pay attention.”
How can mindfulness help treat the symptoms of ADHD children naturally?
ADHD is not just a behavioral disorder. The unique brain chemistry of ADHD patients causes many of the symptoms families find so difficult to deal with. Mindfulness is a natural way to reprogram our cognitive functions—to change the way our brains work, for the better.
So many symptoms of ADHD in children come from their inability to understand what is happening as it happens. Emotions and impulses become bigger, scarier and harder to control because they don’t understand what is causing them. Events and expectations are chaotic and confusing because they can’t see the connections between them. And how can ADHD children predict the consequences of their actions when they aren’t really sure why they are acting that way in the first place?
Mindfulness helps ADHD children tune out distractions and tune into how they feel and what is happening. They learn not to judge the moment or themselves, just to be aware of it and its impact on their feelings and actions. And it works! Mindfulness can ease stress, boost focus, and alleviate depression in ADHD children and adolescents with, or without, medication.
Psychology Today recently summarized the excitement around the recent rigorous scientific research showing that mindfulness makes a measurable difference in brain function for people with ADHD. A May 2017 study found measurable improvement in young adults receiving mindfulness cognitive behavioral therapy as part of their ADHD treatment plan, and a pilot study published in the Journal of Attention Disorder found mindfulness therapy significantly reduced ADHD symptoms in adults in just eight weeks.
Other recent research backs up my own decades of experience with patients and shows that ADHD children and adolescents see the very same benefits—without the side effects of stimulants and other ADHD medications. One wonderful study published in the journal Mindfulness found that practicing mindfulness helped eighth graders with ADHD improve their math scores by 88%!
Do you want to learn strategies for teaching and practicing mindfulness with your ADHD child?
Mindfulness is a natural treatment for ADHD but for most of us, it does not come naturally. It seems so simple. But in today’s world of smartphones, social media and sensory overload, mindfulness does not come easily. Even adults must practice different techniques (such as guided meditation and focused breathing) to help them tune out distractions and stay aware of their surroundings, emotions, and actions.
How can we teach these abstract concepts and techniques to kids? Lidia Zylowska, M.D., a noted researcher and author specializing on mental approaches to ADHD treatment, is a noted expert on mindfulness. Like me, she strongly believes that mindfulness makes a big difference for children with ADHD. In a recent article in Psychology Today, she suggests:
- Making the practice of mindfulness shorter and more hands-on
- Using engaging and easy-to-understand images and illustrations to explain tough concepts
- Clearly explaining why mindfulness can help kids with the problems they care about (getting along with friends, doing better in school, feeling good about themselves)
- Being creative and playful
Mindfulness is a key component of my own Plus-Minus Treatment Plan, and I share my own proven strategies in Finally Focused, my latest book on holistic, natural ADHD treatments. I show my patients and their parents how to use mindfulness to:
- Improve attention
- Normalize the brain
- Calm their emotions
If you want to learn more about the magic of mindfulness and how it may help your ADHD child manage their symptoms without medication, visit the Finally Focused website today.