Who knew common sense was just the thing to cure ADHD? A study done at the Children’s Memorial Hospital found just that as reported in MedPage Today. There is much debate about how to help these kids with their behaviour though behaviour modification techniques, supplementation, medication and diet. I will admit that my opinions on the subject are formed at a professional distance as I did not have a child with attention issues. I have, however seen the impact of this diagnoses on children I love as well as on many classrooms the children I love have been in. I know it is not easy.
But I also know for a fact that every cell in a body is made from the fuel (food) that goes in to it. If we accept that ADHD is a founded affliction of the cells in the brain that can be modified by drugs, it follows that they can be modified (for better or worse) and/or supported by food. Since I am willing and able to make dietary modification for each and every person in my home, it makes sense to me that one would start there.
And sure enough, it is known that diet is an established contributor and that the “development of ADHD was significantly associated with Western diets.” I am just surprised that this is news. Is it really? Do people still not know that food can affect your mood and energy level? Why would it be any different for a child?
“Simple diets low in fats, high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables are the best alternative to medication for ADHD”. How is food an “alternative”? Isn’t it the foundation? It is understandable that a parent would want to help their child as quickly and fully as possible. ADHD can affect every facet of childhood going well beyond the obvious of socialization and learning. But shortcuts almost always net shortcomings.
To boot, the above “diet” is also controlling for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension… Why wouldn’t it be the thing to start with to control ADHD symptoms? I have seen behaviour issues rise and fall with blood sugar. It turns out that these studies confirm that the issue isn’t the “sugar” itself. Avoiding blood sugar spikes with simple, healthy snacks ought to be standard to get the best out of the brain’s ability to focus. Study away if we must but teachers have been telling us for decades that well fed kids do better and are easier to handle.
For the record, three other findings were mentioned:
- Supplementation with Omega 3′s and 6′s showed some promise
- Feingold type diets which included the removal of salicylates was found to be helpful in some “sensitive children”. Salicylates are found in artificial food colour and foods like: Almonds, Apples, Apricots, Aspirin, Berries, Cherries, Cloves, Coffee, Cucumbers, Currants, Grapes, Nectarines, Oil of wintergreen, Oranges, Peaches, Peppers (bell & chilli), Pickles, Plums, Prunes, Raisins, Rose hips, Tangelos, Tangerines, Tea, Tomatoes
- Elimination diets (removal of wheat, dairy and other potential allergens) showed some promise but was considered “difficult to follow”
Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Expert, Brand Spokesperson, Author (Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day and Ace Your Health: 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck
), Speaker, Toronto-Area Nutritionist, Columnist for the international Metro Newspaper and The Huffington Post and regular contributor to both lifestyle and news media. Find her at theresaalbert.com.
It’s frustrating to make it all the way through potty training with apparent ease, only to be knocked down by the kids who won’t stay dry at night. I know, I know—you’re thinking “God Lord, how long will this go on?”
Let me see if I can offer some advice to help you regain your sanity and give you some practical survival tips for this last haul in the training journey.
It’s common for five year-olds to still be wet at night. By age six, about 90% of children will be dry at night. Because there is always that small percentage that are late trainers, your doctor will probably not be concerned until about age seven. Many people won’t remember how old we were when we were trained, but will remember their childhood hassles of wetting the bed and subsequent embarrassment. It turns out that there’s a hormone to blame—it slows down the kidney at night so you make less urine when you’re sleeping. For some people, that hormone doesn’t appear until around seven.
If the doctor has ruled out a physical problem (and yes, there are a host of problems that can lead to night bedwetting, but I won’t get you all freaked out about that) then you can begin to work on dealing with a nighttime action plan:
- Show emotional support. Many children are ashamed they are wetting the bed at night. Be empathetic to their embarrassment and help them understand. Never shame a child or call them a baby.
- Normalize and educate your kids. Explain that it takes time for the body to develop. Remind them about how they learned not to fall off the bed. Soon, their bodies will feel the sensations of needing to pee in the night and will tell the brain to wake up and pee. Right now their bodies are only whispering and the brain is not hearing the signals, but it will. Be patient.
- Reduce fluids in the evening. It helpful to reduce the amount of liquids your child drinks in the evening. No drinks after supper can be a house policy. Be sure they get lots of fluids in before supper though. Dehydration is NOT the answer.
- Don’t wake them to pee. Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes parents make is waking their children to pee when turning in for the night. It may be an attempt to help them make it through the night dry, but actually it interferes in the learning process. We want children to pay attention to their body signals. When parents wake them, the child doesn’t get the chance to listen to those signals, and this becomes a crutch for them. If you want to get that bladder drained, do it while they are awake. Have them use the toilet at the start of tuck-ins and then again right before lights out.
- Avoid hidden benefits. Some children discover that if they wet the bed, they get attention from Mom or Dad while their siblings are sleeping. In an exhausted haze, a parent may just opt to have the child tuck in with them and deal with bed sheets in the morning. To avoid hidden benefits, keep your night time interactions to a minimum, and if possible, train your child to deal with the nighttime wet waking independently. Consider keeping a sleeping bag in their room. Explain that if they wake up wet, they can get out of wet jammies, use a diaper wipe for a quick clean up, and then crawl in to the bag on the floor. You can then deal with the bed in the morning. No Mom or Dad required. Alternatively, buy extra plastic sheets and layer the bed: one sheet, one plastic, another sheet, another plastic etc., so that if they wet the bed, they can independently peel off a layer and crawl into the dry bed and continue sleeping without disturbing others in the house.
- Add a hassle. Not only can your child strip their sheets independently, now is also a good time to show them how to use the washing machine and how to make a bed. As they gain skills, they can do the chore themselves (and it can get pretty dull pretty quickly). This is not really meant to be a ‘punishment’ so much as tying together responsibility for themselves. The burden of the clean up stays with the person who made the mess; just like when you spill a box of crayons.
- Teach tricks to ease social stigmas. Many kids have to continue with pull ups at night and it’s hard on them socially. If they are going to overnight camp or sleepovers, spend some time practicing how to pre-place their pull ups in their PJ’s and roll them up so they stay in place. This way they can slip into them at the same time as their PJ bottoms, so no one notices.
Have patience. It will take time, and if it takes too long, speak to your doctor for recommendations (there are medications, bedwetting ‘alarms’ and more) but hopefully the other steps will lead to success first. Good luck—and may the mattress protectors be with you.
Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and best-selling author of Honey, I Wrecked the Kids
, Breaking The Good Mom Myth
and Ain't Misbehavin'
. She is host of TV's "The Parenting Show" and an international speaker. Visit www.alysonschafer.com
for more parenting tips.