If you have a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, you know one of the main symptoms is hyperactivity. In other words, your child may seem to have an excess of energy, and all of that energy needs to be channeled.
Unfortunately, modern kids are far less physically active than kids from just 20 years ago. It used to be natural for kids to be outside running around and riding bikes, but many of today’s kids spend their time sedentary, watching television, and playing video games.
Clinical psychologists and psychotherapists are taking note of this change and expressing concern. Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School has said, “Being outside provides ADHD children with a more open environment to appropriately express their energy.”
And psychotherapist Terry Matlen, ACSW, agrees, “Children who are hyperactive and impulsive can release tension far easier being outside running, jumping, swinging, and playing sports than sitting indoors.”
If you want to reduce ADD/ADHD symptoms in your child, help them get their body moving. As a bonus, all of this physical movement will help your child improve their balance, coordination, and other gross motor skills.
Here are some fun activities you can enjoy with them.
Not only is bike riding a terrific aerobic exercise that is gentle on growing bones and joints (as well as aging bones and joints!), it’s a great way to explore your neighborhood or local community. When we drive by places in our cars, we tend to overlook many of the details and things that make our local communities special. But when we ride our bikes, we can take in much more.
If you’re lucky enough to have family members nearby, consider having a weekly family team sporting event. This could be family soccer games, touch football games, softball games, or whatever you come up with. Make the prizes fun, like losers cook winners’ dinner or losers mow winners’ lawn.
Speaking of mowing the lawn, having your kids help out with yard work can be a great way to spend time together while getting important tasks accomplished. Painting fences, raking leaves, and hauling things in the wheelbarrow are great ways for your kid to release energy. Plus, when you’ve completed a project together, your child will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Whether it’s in your backyard, at the local park, or in a forest at the end of town, a treasure hunt is a creative way to get your kid exploring in the great outdoors, moving their body, and having an awesome time. Your treasure hunt could have an educational theme, like finding and solving math problems to get the next clue or learning about American Presidents with each treasure found.
Kids with ADD/ADHD are constantly being told to calm down and sit still. So getting them outdoors where they can move their bodies and explore will not only calm their hyperactivity and impulsiveness, but will also make them feel better about themselves.
If you or a loved one has a child that has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families