We have spent a couple weeks talking about the importance of being humble as you parent your kids with ADHD. I’ve shared some tips on how to cultivate humility in your own life and in your kids’ hearts. But humility isn’t enough. My guess is, you are still thinking something like, “Yeah, humility is great, but it doesn’t get my child dressed in a timely manner in the morning,” and you’re right. I spent so much time focusing on humility because it is essential to being able to graciously implement the practical tools I plan to share with you moving forward. I hope you will continue to implement some of the strategies to practice humility in your home. I know I need humility every day just to be able to go before God and confess that I don’t know how to respond to a particular challenge or circumstance, to ask forgiveness or offer it, to do research or seek advice from trusted sources.
With that, let’s move on and look at some ways to help our kids with brain differences, or as I prefer to call them, neurodiverse kids. I absolutely love to learn about the brain. I love it because it shows me how remarkably creative and precise our God is at the same time. Our brains are so intricate and complex, we are always learning new things about how it functions. One of the things that is so neat about the brain is its ability to be trained if we know how. In a previous post, I gave some steps to help take thoughts captive to better manage emotions. That is one way to train the brain because over time it forms new pathways in the brain. In psychology this is one major component of cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s also biblical (see Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8).
There is another fascinating way God has provided for us to train our brains. You may be aware that the brain releases chemicals at different times for different purposes. Adrenaline - the fight, flight, or freeze hormone - and cortisol - the stress hormone, are two examples we will dive deeper into in another post. For today, let’s talk about serotonin and dopamine - two hormones that boost our moods and make us more focused. ADHD brains tend to be dangerously low on both of these hormones, but if we know how to boost them, we can conjure up some focused, happy energy for a time.
Here are a few natural ways to spark the production of dopamine and serotonin:
Getting into nature - sunshine, fresh air, and beauty
Exercise - 15-20 minutes of getting your heart rate up on a run, swim, brisk walk, hike, bike ride, dancing, HIIT workout, sports, etc.
Physical touch - snuggling with a loved one or a beloved pet
Music - any music you enjoy, listening or making your own
Rewards - just the anticipation of a reward increases feel good hormones. This can be anything a child enjoys like going to a park, playing a game together, a favorite food, screen time, a backrub, etc.
Watch this week’s video to find out three ways I’ve incorporated these ideas into our family routine.
The summer is a particularly hard time to keep our kids engaged. It’s really easy to simply let them play video games for hours just to keep them entertained. The problem, as I discovered years ago, is that when they aren’t playing, their ADHD symptoms are heightened. They are more emotional, less focused on other tasks and more impulsive. That’s because gaming releases so much dopamine, it actually begins to negatively affect the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where these behaviors are controlled and the part of the brain that is already under-developed in children with ADHD. (Wickham)
So how do I keep my kids occupied in the summer? I’ve made up a list of activities they must complete before using electronics and I’ve incorporated some of the natural ways to boost dopamine and serotonin levels. They also know if they don’t use a timer and turn it off after 2 hours (that’s the amount of time we’ve decided is reasonable based on some studies, but there isn’t a hard and fast rule I’ve found), they get less time the next day. Want to give it a shot? Download your free summer checklist here. You can adjust the times to suit your family’s needs and I left you some extra blanks for other activities you want your kids to do daily.
Need more help? Book a free Discovery Session here to find out how my Family Home Framework can help your family flourish. Subscribe here to get your free guide “10 Strategies to Calm Your Emotional Child”.
The content found on Flourishing Family Coaching’s website and blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding ADHD, anxiety, depression or any other medical conditions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.
Wickham, Jennifer. “Are Video Games and Screens Another Addiction?” Mayo Clinic Health Systems, June 2020, https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/are-video-games-and-screens-another-addiction. Accessed 2 8 2021.