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Study Reveals Letting ADHD Kids Move Is Beneficial To Their Learning

Study Reveals Letting ADHD Kids Move Is Beneficial To Their Learning

If you thought that telling a kid with ADHD to try and sit still while learning was a good idea, think again! According to researchers at the University of Central Florida, the more ADHD kids move around while doing complex cognitive tasks, the better. So, finger tapping, squirming, and fidgeting are vital to help them learn.

Let ADHD kids fidget

Similar research at the MIND institute in California tested a number of teens who had ADHD. They had to keep an eye on arrows which were darting from one side to another. They had devices attached to their ankles which recorded how much they moved around while doing the test. The kids who had been the most restless got the best scores. This suggests that physical activity helps the cognitive processes when concentrating, paying attention, and learning. As long as they do not disturb the class, ADHD kids should be allowed to jiggle and fidget as much as they want to.

“Parents and teachers shouldn’t try to keep them still. Let them move while they are doing their work or other challenging cognitive tasks.” — Professor Julie Schweitzer, Director of UC Davis ADHD Program.

Why classrooms need activity balls and exercise bikes

When ADHD kids make use of secondary activities such as doodling, wriggling, or balancing on an activity/stability ball, their focus and attention are improved. Let us hope that more schools will buy activity balls and use these instead of desks for the ADHD kids.

Another research study showed that ADHD kids were able to stay longer on the task and were less hyperactive when they were on stability balls. It also revealed that teachers were happier too because both teaching and learning benefited. Parents should also use these balls at home to help their kids get through their homework with less stress.

Ask your child’s teacher to help

Did you know that there are arrangements under the ADHD accommodations to allow a child with ADHD to actually move around and stand when he or she wants to? Have a word with the teacher. Some schools allow a child to have two desks so that they can move from one to the other.

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The importance of recesses and getting into the open air cannot be overestimated. Discuss with the teacher what sorts of punishment should be avoided, such as detention. Encourage the use of some physical activity and make sure that no kids are banned from sports just because of poor grades.

“Physical exercise may be the single most powerful somatic treatment for ADD that we have.” — Dr. Edward Hallowell, ADHD expert and author.

Why ADHD kids need to move and exercise more

Think of movement as a way of helping to switch on a child’s brain. They can focus better, recall more accurately and pay attention for longer.

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Research in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology has highlighted this aspect of children’s education. They asked children to do 20 minutes on a treadmill or to choose a quiet game while sitting down. Afterwards, all the kids who had been more physically active were doing better on test scores than their companions who had been sitting still.

Think of exercise as a way of triggering certain areas of the brain which help kids to follow sequences, remember things, help to prioritize and keeping attention levels high. Actually, this benefits all kids, whether they have ADHD or not.

“Physical exercise is really for our brains.” — Dr. John Ratey, ADHD expert

The way forward

ADHD experts are now convinced that exercise and movement can complement existing therapies and medication. But it does not look like this will happen anytime soon. The increase in ADHD diagnosis has surged by about 42% in the last eight years. Prescriptions for ADHD meds are rising steadily at a rate of 6% per year and show no sign of abating.

What a pity there are no entrepreneurs out there who could exploit and profit from providing more exercise opportunities for kids with ADHD? Now that would really make a difference to how children with ADHD could learn faster and better.

Featured photo credit: Izach’s class Mrs. Squires/ au_tiger 01 via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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