Is your child hyperactive? Our Clinical Psychologist’s talks about how to tell if there's a problem

Hyperactive children, How to manage hyperactive children, natural treatment for hyperactivity, ADHD

Does your child struggle to sit still? Is he always moving, fidgeting or jumping around? Does he talk non-stop? You may have also received a note from the teacher complaining that your child’s behaviour is disrupting the rest of the class. Is your child just very energetic or could he be hyperactive? If your child’s activity levels are causing you concern, read what our Clinical Psychologist says about hyperactivity and how you will know if there is a problem.

What is hyperactivity?

Hyperactivity means being overactive or more active than usual. It can also be accompanied by impulsivity, a shorter attention span, being easily distracted, unable to concentrate or even being aggressive. This type of behaviour is not really easy to define – hyperactive behaviour may seem excessive for some people but for others it may be completely normal to have an energetic, enthusiastic kid bouncing around.

It is perfectly normal for preschoolers and young children to have an abundance of energy. Older children, teenagers and even adults also have  naturally higher energy and activity levels than others. 
However, some children’s hyperactivity levels are much higher when compared to others and this can become a problem if it affects their school work or social interactions. 
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How to tell if it’s hyperactivity or ADHD?

Nowadays when someone says that your child is hyperactive, parents immediately think that it means your child has ADHD. Hyperactivity is ONE of the signs of ADHD! ADHD is not just defined as having a hyperactive child running and jumping around.

Unfortunately, it is far more complex than that! While the major symptoms of ADHD include hyperactivity, it is also paired with impulsivity, inattention, difficulty following instructions, not being able to complete homework and tasks at school and talking far too much. Not all children will have the same symptoms, every child’s situation is unique  – some  kids may only experience hyperactivity with impulsivity while others may experience hyperactivity together with impulsivity, inattention, trouble focussing and forgetfulness. 

Here are a few things to bear in mind
1. Age:  While preschool children can sometimes be exhausting, professionals would very seldom apply the label ‘hyperactive’ or ‘ADHD’ to them, even to a child who is very ‘busy’. This is because the energy levels and brain structure of pre-school children naturally pre-dispose them to be very active and impulsive. Activity levels need to be outside the age appropriate range before being diagnosed as problematic .
2. School environment: Teachers and schools differ in their approaches and not all schools or teachers suit all children. For example, a highly intelligent child who is very curious and wants to ask many questions may feel repressed  and frustrated by a teacher who requires her pupils to sit down and learn in a passive way. Such a child may fare better with a teacher who encourages enthusiasm and challenges the child with interesting learning material.
3. Family context: Small children are not as capable as adults at talking about their feelings, so they tend to ‘act out’ when there is a problem.  Sometimes ‘naughtiness’ and over active behaviour may be a sign that there is a problem in the family and the child may be anxious, angry or depressed.
4. Diet: They say you are what you eat and this is especially true of children. Some children are more sensitive than others to certain food ingredients. Things to look out for are sugar, food colouring, preservatives and stimulants like caffeine in chocolate, Coca Cola and other fizzy drinks and energy drinks. Try cutting these out in preference for healthy, home made food and fresh fruit juices and see if this makes a difference to children with hyperactivity
5.Individual differences:  Some children are just naturally more active than others. Try and find activities that will keep them active like active sports or learning a martial art. Not only will this keep them active in a more appropriate way, but it will also teach them discipline and self control.
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When to get help

If you are concerned that your child may be showing signs of ADHD, the best person to speak to would be an Educational or Clinical Psychologist, who would take a comprehensive history (to rule out other causes of hyperactivity) and perform certain psychometric tests to assess concentration, IQ  and learning ability. If a problem is identified, parents can be counselled on ways to help their child.

Our Clinical Psychologist says, "Traditionally, doctors prescribe medications such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall to treat ADHD symptoms to help children to cope. While these medications may treat the symptoms, they have some horrific side effects ranging from nervousness, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, nausea, stunting of growth and even heart problems to overexcitement. For this reason, I prefer to recommend natural remedies for my patients with ADHD, along with a holistic approach encompassing, diet, parent counselling, and appropriate learning methods for the particular child. In the Feelgood Health range, Focus Formula and BrightSpark are specially formulated to treat children who have been diagnosed with ADHD as well as for children who only have trouble focusing and concentrating''.

Focus Formula is a herbal formula which acts as a brain tonic to promote concentration, memory and the ability to focus attention without distraction. It reduces hyperactivity and restlessness and is a naturally calming tonic for children, without making them sleepy or drowsy. BrightSpark is a 100% homeopathic remedy which has been formulated to work together with Focus Formula. As a homeopathic remedy for ADHD, BrightSpark addresses, hyperactivity, impulsiveness and behavioural issues that act as an impediment to learning.   

Each product is effective on its own - however the best recommendation is a combination of the two products. While BrightSpark works on the cause and can be a long term benefit, Focus Formula works to relieve symptoms, while also improving cerebral blood flow and helping the brain to heal itself. By using a combination of two remedies that work differently you have the best chance for success.

Sometimes additional support may be needed and Triple Complex Brain Tonic and MindSoothe Jr are great remedies to use together with Focus Formula and BrightSparkTriple Complex Brain Tonic contains a selection of tissue salts to improve brain functioning, concentration and memory and to balance mood.

Very often, children with ADHD may experience sadness, withdrawal, aggression or other behavioural problems which all result in behavioural problems when children ‘act out’ their unhappiness. MindSoothe Jr is a herbal remedy which helps to encourage a balanced mood and promote emotional and psychological wellbeing in children. Because MindSoothe Jr works directly on brain chemicals such as serotonin, it also helps to improve concentration and behaviour in children with underlying anxiety or depression.
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What you can do to help

1. Keep a regular routine for mealtimes and bedtime
Children with ADHD need set routines as they usually find it difficult to cope with and adjust to changes. Give them ample warning of any activities or special events that may be coming up – you can mark this on a calendar or notice board so that they can see when it will be taking place.
2. Communicate with your child’s teachers
Keep in contact with your child’s teachers about their progress in class. Find out how you can help your child with certain subjects and monitor homework and projects.
3. Help your child to be organised
Children who are hyperactive tend be disorganised and all over the place. As a parent, you need to help your child to be more organised by keeping a diary to write down homework, assignments or upcoming tests and projects. Encourage your child to keep his or her room neat and tidy and free of clutter and try to set aside a study area that is tidy and uncluttered with the minimum of distractions. Help your child learn how to work with check lists to prevent them from forgetting things like homework diaries, books, sports equipment, etc.
4. Give clear instructions
When you speak to your child, remember to make eye contact while giving clear instructions. Make sure that you speak slowly and quietly – do not shout or raise your voice! Children with ADHD need to be able to process what you are saying and if you are irritated or upset, you will not the desired response.  Give one clear  instruction at a time rather than a string of instructions.
5. Show your child lots of love and affection
Be careful not to focus too much on your child’s behavioural problems and difficulties at school as this will affect their self-esteem and confidence. Be sure to let them know that you love them and are proud of them. Children need that validation from their parents in order show their potential.
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