ADHD, Preschoolers and Kindergarten
17th October 2023
Parenting tips, behavior modification, art as therapy rather than ADHD drug treatment
The boy, six years old, had dark rings under his eyes. He was slightly withdrawn socially and his primary classroom interest was computer video games on the internet. Preschool and kindergarten children diagnosed with ADHD are frequently prescribed stimulant medications as a form of behavior control. Sometimes it seems to help their behavior. However, side effects are evident, and many parents and teachers are concerned about the overuse of medications for young children.
One preschool teacher and special education student said that she always knew who the children on medication were by the dark rings under their eyes, as in the real example of the boy mentioned here from an inner city school.
CHADD's Attention magazine directs attention to intervention with preschoolers who demonstrate symptoms of ADHD. Surprisingly, rather than recommending medication as a first choice, the author of the article recommends a number of other of possible interventions, with these young children include parental training.
According to the Mark Wolraich, M.D. in an article entitled, "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Can It be Recognized and Treated in Children Younger Than 5 Years?", doctors should be conservative with treatments, opting for "behavior interventions" as "the first intervention employed with preschool children". Parental training is preferred to giving children medication for ADHD when considering ADHD in preschool children. Potential negative effects of stimulant medications are a concern to most parents, and these drugs might negatively affect the developing bodies of young children.
Some of the Possible Problems Involving Medication for Preschoolers
· Emotional outbursts
· Difficulty falling asleep
· Appetite decrease
· Repetitive behaviors or thoughts
Programs that have been found effective tend to focus on improving parental consistency and using consequences for desired and undesired behaviors.
ADHD Diet for Children
Before exploring pharmacological treatment, dietary changes or manipulation, such as restricting the intake of certain foods or adding certain foods in, might make more sense than medication for a preschooler.
Cutting back on sugar and high processed foods is one positive step that parents, and school classrooms, can implement. (School classrooms offer breakfasts and snacks that are more often than not high in sugar, and highly processed). If parents are concerned with food additives and processed foods affecting their child, they might consider feeding a child with exclusively organic foods.
Sleep Disorders and Difficulties with Children
Ensuring proper sleep habits and substituting physical activities for sedentary ones are two more options for parents. Dr. Wolraich notes that while neither is proven as a treatment for ADHD, both can only benefit any child. Sleep disorders often are misinterpreted as child ADHD.
Nearly 50% of children have a television in their bedroom, and taking television, video games and Internet access out of a child's bedroom is both a course of wisdom and protection, but also can be of much help in a child going to bed in a calm state, so that he or she is able to sleep well. This translates to better attentiveness in the preschool or kindergarten classroom.
Parental Internet Control - Parental Controls on Television
Limit Television Time for Children
Studies have indicated that every hour of television for young children equates to a higher percentage of ADHD symptoms in the future. Fast paced cartoons and cartoon violence are two things that parents should consider replacing with more productive and gentle activities for children such as going to the park or art projects.
Parents need to set limits on the television, the American Pediatrics Association recommends no more than two hours a day for children, some professionals recommend no more than one hour a day, especially during the school week and this is for combined media time, that is TV, movies, video games, non-educational internet.
The American Pediatrics Association recommends no television before the age of 2 for all children. This can be considered to be a positive preventive measure for ADHD, and for childhood depression and bipolar disorder as well.
The TV can weaken the mind and emotionally makeup of a child or infant, and this can cause a child to be more susceptible to mental health disorders as he or she gets older.
Ideas for Non-Drug Interventions for ADHD in Preschoolers and Positive Parenting
· parental training
· parental consistency
· less TV, movie computer, video game time
· cutting out violent programming, action, violent or intense cartoons
· speech therapy - CHADD's Attention magazine
· ensuring proper sleep habits
· physical activities and exercise during the day
CHADD's Attention magazine states that speech therapy should be considered if there is a speech delay with the preschooler. This would help the child better express him or herself verbally and cut down on the need for using motor skills for communication.
ADHD and Preschool, Kindergarten References
AD/HD in Preschoolers: Tips for Diagnosing and Treating the Disorder. (Retrieved June 25, 2009). National Resource Center for ADHD. http://help4adhd.org/en/treatment/complementary/WWK6
Wolraich, M. (2006). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Can It be Recognized and Treated in Children Younger Than 5 Years? Infants & Young Children. Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 86–93. http://depts.washington.edu/isei/iyc/wolraich_19.2.pdf