When people think of ADHD, they typically draw a picture in their minds of young boys bouncing off the walls in their classrooms, being disruptive, and making bad grades.
Or at least that’s all you hear about.
You rarely hear about all the people with ADHD who learn how to cope with the condition and actually use it as a tool for success.
ADHD manifests itself in different ways, and the coping mechanisms people use vary greatly. But, there is one universal tool that is beneficial to all kids (and adults) with ADHD.
How do I know?
The scientific literature provides evidence for the use of this tool for kids with ADHD.
But I also know because I have ADHD.
My #1 coping mechanism is based on my own personal experience and the experiences of other adults with ADHD. My strategy is also based on scientific research because science is what I do!
Get your kids outside and active!
Nature, with its array of sights, sounds, and smells, has the ability to draw on a kid’s involuntary attention. This gives their minds a chance to take a break from direct focus– something they’re expected to do for the majority of the school day. When given frequent outdoor breaks, they can refill their focus “tank” and concentrate better on current tasks.
Here are a few ideas to get you started!
- Walk to school
- Ride a bike
- Walk the dog
- Do outdoor chores
- If you homeschool, take outdoor breaks between subjects
- Play outdoor and individual sports
Why Individual Sports Are So Important
There is nothing wrong with team sports, but as a parent of a child with ADHD, you’ll want to strongly consider individual outdoor sports. By teaching them how to hike, rock climb, backpack, kayak, etc., you’re giving them a tool to help them cope with ADHD for the rest of their lives.
Team sports are usually not played again after high school or college. You see this over and over again. A kid is a great football player in high school, then goes to college but doesn’t play and gains 20 lbs. Then the only time they play again is the occasional round of catch in the front yard when they have kids.
However, with individual sports, they can continue to “play” for the rest of their lives. It’s easy to get outside by yourself and go for a hike! (Well, it’s easy if you don’t have kids–ha!) Plus, by choosing outdoor sports, you’re indirectly helping them cope with ADHD and recharge by allowing their overactive brains to rest. Your kids will learn how good they feel when they’re outside rock climbing and they’ll want to continue doing it throughout their lives.
I know it seems a little too simple, but trust me.
I know how powerful nature can be as a tool to recharge an overactive brain so that you can feel calm and peaceful. In fact, it’s the only place my brain feels calm and peaceful.
I’m not an expert on ADHD, but I’ve lived and coped with it all my life. Although “success” can be manifested in many ways, I feel successful. And your kids can too.
Your child with ADHD is smart and full of potential. They just need your help finding coping mechanisms that work for them.
Nature is one coping mechanism that works for everyone.
Originally published February 2019.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.