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10 Things Parents of an ADHD Child Wants You To Know

10 Things Parents of an ADHD Child Wants You To Know

Please do not give me your views on ADHD meds when I tell you my child has ADHD. Yes, I know all about medication, the risks and the benefits and I have done my homework on homeopathic treatments too, believe it or not. But simplifying things to such a superficial level whether to medicate or not is not helpful at all. ADHD is far more complex than the side effects of stimulant meds. Here are 10 things every parent who has a child with ADHD wants you to know.

1. They don’t need more labels.

I know it is true that up to 66% of all kids with ADHD are liable to have some other disorder as well. Things like autism, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), sensory disorders and anxiety, just to name a few. Let us forget the labels and look at how we are going to support them at home and at school. There are lots of ways that kids with ADHD can be helped.

2. They need help with some tasks.

People are so quick to dismiss ADHD as just too much talking, jumping off the walls and being badly behaved. These are just outward signs of having difficulty with getting tasks started and finished, following instructions and remaining focused. Technically this is known as an executive function disorder (EFD) but we don’t need another label, do we? Parents and teachers are always on the lookout for ways of helping them overcome these difficulties.

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3. They are not going to become drug addicts because of their meds.

Many people believe the myth that ADHD meds are likely to lead to more substance abuse in adolescence and adulthood. Many studies show that this is just not true at all and there is no evidence to support this myth.

Time to reflect on the actual benefits of the ADHD meds. A child will start to focus better and get better grades at school. This will encourage him/her to do better. As some of the commentators in this video here on the ‘ADHD and Lovin’ It?!” remark, the good news is that ADHD meds are safe and effective. The bad news is that not many people know that.

4. They have low self-esteem.

Kids with ADHD are likely to have low self-esteem unless they are encouraged to develop certain talents they have. All too often, they are stigmatized or discriminated against because of the ADHD label. They may be good at sports, drawing, music or some other activity. It is important to help them realize their potential and exploit their abilities. They need to be reminded of the success stories and that many people with ADHD have been brilliant in many areas such as sports, photography, cooking, athletics, acting and sales.

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5. They need more physical exercise.

Teachers and parents often wonder why kids with ADHD are so restless, impulsive and fidgety. Instead of grumbling about that, they should start looking at ways to overcome these problems. The importance of physical activity in helping kids with ADHD cannot be stressed too much. In fact there are studies that show mental alertness, better sleep and greater attention span are all great spin offs from doing lots of sports and other physical activity. One couple who sent their kids to a Norwegian school were able to reduce their medication when they benefited from more recesses and physical exercise. Now, why don’t more schools in the US and elsewhere follow this example?

6. They have hyperfocus which is second to none.

Everyone has talked about the lack of attention span and the distraction that ADHD kids have to cope with. But they are also capable of hyper focus when they are really into something and this can lead to many benefits. Children with ADHD can often get so involved in something that they can remain highly focused on that and get in the zone for hours. They can also pick up on a detail that many other people would miss. This is when their attention levels are best, according to Dr.Hallowell, an ADHD expert.

“Many scientists, writers, and artists with ADD have had very successful careers, in large part because of their ability to focus on what they’re doing for hours on end.” – Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.

7. They are bright, creative, and funny.

Telling your kids they have an uphill task in front of them all the time is so disheartening for them, especially as our schools and society are so rigid about progress markers and academic achievement. It is great to discuss that openly with them when they meet obstacles and are discouraged. But it is not all bad news. The other side of the coin is that they are funny, creative and often lack inhibition which other kids have. They are quite capable of chatting away and drawing at the same time. They excel at multi-tasking too which can be exploited in many good ways in adulthood. They can use their thinking outside the box for creative problem solving. A four old girl with ADHD was told not to lift the blinds on her window because of the dangerous cord. She solved the problem by cutting a neat square hole in them. “You told me not to pull up the blinds so I cut a hole so that I could look out!”, she later explained.

8. They need to exploit their amazing energy.

Excess energy is often regarded as negative, especially if it is disruptive. The school system does not help because there are few ways that kids can let off steam in a classroom setting. Seating is not negotiable and this is a severe disadvantage for kids with ADHD. Their brains are more active when they are moving. An orderly classroom is not an ideal learning environment for them. In addition, they should be allowed to wriggle and squirm. Studies show that fidgeting or a secondary movement actually help them to concentrate.

9. They will outgrow it, so ADHD in adulthood is not a problem.

This is the most ignorant and inaccurate statement of all. Getting a proper diagnosis and starting treatment early is essential. Many teachers go overboard and try to get difficult students on meds. Others ignore it altogether, saying that they will outgrow it. This is irresponsible as adults with ADHD face enormous challenges in the workplace. Yes, they may be less hyperactive but people are less forgiving in the workplace about attention and deadline issues. Ari Tuckman is a psychologist and has outlined some of the problems in his book, More Attention, Less Deficit: Successful Strategies for Adults with ADHD. Just think that many of the problems of adult ADHD could have been mitigated, had they been given more attention at home and at school.

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10. They do not need any special social skills.

While Ritalin and other stimulants can really help with getting down to homework and keeping on task at school, social skills are another matter. Many people just do not realize that pills will not teach skills, especially social skills. Because they have problems with impulsivity and reading social cues, ADHD kids will find it hard to maintain friendships and stick to turn taking when at play. These problems are often ignored and ADHD kids are socially excluded. This is why it is so imporrtant for parents to really take social skills training seriously. This is going to have a lifelong impact so it should never be brushed under the carpet.

As a parent of a child with ADHD I know that spending quality time with them and enjoying some activities together without worrying about their behavior is the most rewarding of all.

Featured photo credit: Crazy Kids/Olaf Gradin 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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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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