Healthy School Lunches

Healthy School Lunches

Earlier this month I wrote about the benefits of a healthy breakfast. It is equally as important to provide your child with a healthy lunch to continue to fuel their body throughout the day.

The Internet does not lack evidence that typical school lunches tend to be unhealthy. While it may meet nutritional requirements, school lunches are laden with salt, fat, and calories. Because of the large volume needed to serve the average school’s population, cheaper grade products are used to feed the masses. Animal-based products used in the school-provided lunches are generally processed and contain a great deal of sodium, sugar, and fat.

Granted, First Lady Michelle Obama has heightened awareness with her Let’s Move campaign. With more than 32 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program, the First Lady is passionate about providing healthier options for these students. When she started Let’s Move in February 2010, she was quoted as saying, “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.”

If you consider the research done on food options and AD/HD, every meal should be considered a “make or break” for your child’s school day. Lunches that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates allow AD/HD students to focus better in the classroom and avoid the afternoon slump.

Lunches supplied from home allow better control. There are a lot of foods that come prepared for ease in putting together healthy options. It’s important when picking out lunch options that you read the ingredients. It is best to avoid prepared foods that are high in salt and sugar and contain a lot of preservatives.

In her blog, Register Dietician Rachel Brandies, MS, RD offers some really great ideas for healthy after school snacks. If you keep healthy snack options in your home and avoid buying the not-so-healthy snacks, you’ll teach your child and yourself to eat healthier. Choose frozen juice bars or yogurt over ice cream. Choose a cup full of high protein cereal over cookies.

For more information on Health and AD/HD, join Gay Russell, LCSW for a FREE webinar entitled Fueling our Children for Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health, Combating the A’s with Nutrition: Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, Anger, & Academic Challenges. The webinar is scheduled for January 22, 2015 at 11:00 am EST. Click here to register.

Paging Dr. Pepper: Is soda a treatment for kids with ADHD?

Paging Dr. Pepper: Is soda a treatment for kids with ADHD?

The Meadville Tribune ran this story earlier this month. The author says, “New research has found the Dr. Pepper may be a good option to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) focus. In children with ADHD, that stimulant tends to act as a behavioral control. What is interesting about the brand Dr. Pepper is that it is one of the most caffeine-rich drinks available on the market. It contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, as well as phosphoric acid, a compound that interferes with the absorption of calcium, magnesium and zinc — minerals that children with ADHD need the most.” (http://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/lifestyles/paging-dr-pepper-is-soda-a-treatment-for-kids-with/article_423a82a2-9556-11e4-83a9-ffe6670cc3a3.html).

Some parents actually give their children coffee, but according to Dr. Larry Silver, MD, “Caffeine is a stimulant, and people have long wondered whether it could be used to treat ADHD. But two major studies have shown that caffeine is not an effective treatment. While some of the children in these studies did report less “sluggishness,” caffeine can cause agitation and an increase in heart rate in young children — even more of a concern for kids already taking a stimulant medication. Thus, any benefits your friend’s son receives are probably outweighed by health risks.” (http://www.additudemag.com/…/ask_the_add_medical_…/1564.html).

As a parent, you should be aware that while caffeine may provide a short-term effect, it will wear off quickly, most likely while your child leaves you and goes to school. This may prove to be a problem at school. The amount of sugar in soft drinks is also a health issue related to obesity. Overall, as Dr. Silver notes, it’s not a good idea even if it provides a short-term solution.

The Importance of Exercise

The Importance of Exercise

Childhood obesity is an ever-growing concern in our country. Many articles have been written substantiating the need for regular exercise for children over six years of age. In his article, Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, offers some great suggestions.

With the introduction of “off the shelf” video games, there has been an alarming increase in cases of childhood obesity. It is the norm for a child to come home from school and plop themselves in front of the TV for hours on end, with the only exercise happening is the thumb muscles on a controller.

Dr. Thomas N. Robinson, who works in the MPH Division of General Pediatrics at the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention in California, and is a member of the Pediatric Clinics of North America, points out the connection to television and obesity in his publicized study, “Television Viewing and Childhood Obesity.”

Many parents consider organized sports to be the form of exercise that is best for their child. While it certainly has its place, unorganized exercise is equally as important. Back in the day, the kids in our neighborhood couldn’t wait to get home from school to ride our bikes or throw a neighborhood football game together. After being cooped up in a classroom all day, we couldn’t wait to get outside and play. On her website, Emma Jenner, a trained childcare professional with 14 years of experience, explores the pros and cons of structured and unstructured play.

When you’re looking at a person struggling with AD/HD, it’s important to understand that asking that person to sit in a classroom or an office all day is like caging a lion. At some point, they need to get out and exert some of that pent up energy. Encourage your child to shoot some hoops each day after they get home from school, or stop by the local gym on your way home and work off some of the cobwebs.

Many people who have AD/HD and play organized sports struggle staying focused. Picture your favorite Little League player in the outfield playing with their shoelaces and not paying attention to the high-flying ball coming their way that will win or lose the game for the team. This player has lost focus on the game because they are “out in left field.” Just as with any other form of attention issues, it is possible to teach this player to focus where he/she needs to be. Many sports teams, including the US Woman’s Olympic Bobsled Team and NASCAR, have used Cognitive feedback training to help keep team members more focused.

When all is said and done, it’s time to get up off the couch. Incorporate at least an hour of exercise into your child’s schedule each day. Or for that matter, do it together. Take a bike ride, take a walk, shoot some hoops, play hopscotch. Whatever it is, just do it.

Barb Rollar

 

Martial Arts: Great Activity for ADD Children

5 reasons martial arts might just be a great activity for your ADD child:

  1. Exercise.  Though there are many mysteries surrounding attention challenges, one constant that almost all experts agree on is that physical activity helps.  Not only does it allow a child to burn off excess energy, it improves their overall health and well-being.  Children who exercise are shown to be happier in general, are more adapt at concentrating, and often sleep better.
  2. Camaraderie.  While the martial arts are generally not team sports like baseball or soccer, there is a substantial amount of social interaction.  Often students pair up to practice their techniques, and this shared experience often builds bonds of friendship.  On a larger scale, the class as a whole is collectively engaged in an endeavor that every member can identify with, allowing a child who might otherwise have difficulty socially, to “fit in.”
  3. Discipline.  One characteristic that is prevalent in almost every traditional martial arts school is discipline.  It is engrained in the culture of styles like Tae Kwon Do Karate and Kung Fu, with an emphasis on self-discipline above all else.  Being able to master one’s mind and body is paramount to learning the numerous punches, kicks and katas common in most schools.
  4. Confidence.  The martial arts often put a child in situations where they are challenged to excel, and success in such venues breeds confidence.  While this is true of many endeavors, the martial arts are unique in that an individual is taught to defend themselves if need be, and this often translates into a greater amount of confidence in situations that have nothing to do with self-defense.
  5. Patience.  Many children with attention challenges have a tendency towards impulsivity, but most martial arts schools adhere to a very structured training regiment, thus curbing impulsivity out of sheer necessity.  Also, since martial arts training is often done in a group setting, an attention challenged child is among others who also must be patient to succeed.

 

Michael Smith

 

Set Up Routines

Set Up Routines

When dealing with a child with AD/HD much success comes from setting up routines and sticking to them. It helps establish consistency and lands expectations. Many times your AD/HD child may know what needs to be done, but has a hard time prioritizing the tasks at hand.

It’s important to understand that it takes time to set up routines that are consistent and become ingrained. Normally, changes in behaviors take 21 to 30 days before they become habit.

Think about a routine that you tried to establish for yourself. If you were successful, it’s probably because you established the routine, executed on it, and were consistent.

So let’s just say you’re setting up a morning routine for your child. As it stands now, things are chaotic in the morning, always looking for the lost shoe, homework left in the bedroom, teeth rarely brushed, etc. To establish a consistent routine, you may want to start with a checklist. It may look something like this:

√  Eat Breakfast

√  Get Dressed

√  Brush Your Teeth

√  Make sure everything is in your backpack

Keep things simple. Set your child up for success. If your checklist includes too many things—like make your bed, make your lunch, etc.—and your child doesn’t have time to do them, you’re setting them up for failure.

It’s important to understand that a checklist is designed to successfully get them to the goal, which in this case is getting ready for school.

Since mornings are hectic, it’s not recommended that you overload it with chores that can be done after school. Just focus on what is needed. The only other thing you may want to add is:

√  Watch TV when 1-4 are completed.

You’ll be amazed how quickly and efficiently the list gets completed.
To learn more about establishing routines in conjunctions with cognitive attention training for people with AD/HD, register for a webinar with world renowned attention expert Peter Freer on January 12, 2015.

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today
Get an answer from an occupational therapist

Read the full post at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/07/08/why-so-many-kids-cant-sit-still-in-school-today/

We wanted to run this again for those who’ve missed it. Very good information. Additionally, this article is now further substantiated by recent research published in the journal Pediatrics which says that children who participated in regular physical activity had far better cognitive performance and brain function. The authors, University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues say their research, “demonstrate[s] a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health.” Yet, schools cut PE and recess out. Read on…

Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, wrote a blog post for the Washington Post. She asserts that the general trend of more seat work and less physical education and recess could be culprits.

A pediatric occupational therapist says schools keep kids in their chairs far too long.
washingtonpost.com

Tips for the Thanksgiving Table

Tips for the Thanksgiving Table
Make Thanksgiving special (and maintain your sanity)

Holiday excitement can make it difficult for your ADHD child to adjust his/her behavior. A little early planning can keep your child’s behavior in check. You can do this by providing your child with some special responsibilities that will not only help you, but will also make your child feel like he or she is part of the family experience.

Make setting the dinner table your child’s Thanksgiving job. Giving him this very important job will keep him occupied and give him something to be proud of. It also provides an opportunity to practice skills such as planning, organization, and memory!

Steps to help you plan ahead:

1. Discuss. Start talking to your child about his Thanksgiving job at least a week before Thanksgiving – no surprises on Thanksgiving Day!
2. Brainstorm. Make a list together outlining everything that will be his responsibility to place on the table.
3. Display. Post the list somewhere that is easy for him to find and read.
4. Arrange. Make certain your child’s items are easily accessible and sequential. For example, we will start at this time, we will do this first, then this, then this…
5. Rules. Make certain your child has guidelines to follow. You must follow the list. Cross items off the list after you have placed them on the table. If it is not on your list, then it is not your responsibility.
6. Praise! Make certain family and friends provide your child with lots of positive reinforcement for a job well done!
7. If all goes well, he can be the host who serves appetizers.

A little effort goes a long way. Your planning can keep you child in the moment, focused, and well behaved. We seem to always catch them ‘being bad.’ Create an environment where you can catch them ‘being good.’ Setting this tone at the holidays keeps the tears away and everyone happy. It will definitely reduce your stress level and increase your sanity!

Does ADHD Mean I Have Less Attention?

Does ADHD Mean I Have Less Attention?
You’ll be surprised by the answer

It’s ADHD Awareness Month. Spread the word.

Read More: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml

ADHD key symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It is normal for all children to exhibit these behaviors, but for children with ADHD, these behaviors are more severe and occur more often. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a child must have symptoms for 6 or more months and to a degree that is greater than other children of the same age.

But do children with ADHD really have less attention than their peers? Attention deficit is actually a misnomer of sorts; ADHD children do not have less attention or a ‘deficit’ of attention. Actually their attention is quite substantial, however their ability to direct it or manage it at will is very difficult.

Try to imagine this: four television stations playing in your mind at one time. A lot of information is pouring in, but it’s difficult for you to pay attention to any one thing for very long. That’s the typical mind of an ADHD person. Thus, their attention is not deficit, but it is fleeting; it’s directed quickly from one thing to another.

Think of it like this: you enter a cave with a flashlight (the flashlight will serve as a metaphor for attention). It’s very dark, but you very carefully shine the flashlight in the cave, directing it on the floor to carefully navigate. Your ADHD child enters the same cave with that same flashlight. He constantly shines it all over the cave as he walks forward. So, it’s clear, same flashlight (same attention), but his is scattered or diffused.

Now you know why he’ll walk through the living room time after time and bang his shin or knee on the same coffee table for years.

Now you know why, when you ask him to go to his bedroom, put on his pajamas, and get ready for bed, you find him sitting on his bed a half hour later playing a Game-boy. He processed the, “Go to your bedroom” part. His brain is not yet equipped to process multiple step directions. When that happens in school, it’s a mess.

But why can they play their Xbox or Play Station for hours on end? I literally have to yank the controller from my son’s hand to get him to come to dinner. A characteristic of ADHD is hyperfocus, the ability to tune out everything else and attend to only a particularly engaging stimulus. Video games use high intensity graphics and sound and are loaded with action. Your ADHD child’s mind is tuned for this type of stimulation. They can hyperfocus on this for hours on end. Unfortunately, your classroom teacher cannot compete on this level. As we’ve mentioned before, limit the use of high intensity video games.

Knowing your child’s mind is integral to understanding your child’s behavior. At times they may not respond to your demands and it creates a conflict, but it’s not due to defiance necessarily. It’s often due to the way they process or don’t process information. Knowing this can reduce your conflicts and improve your family life.

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today

Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today
Get an answer from an occupational therapist
Read the full post at:
We’ve gotten many new friends on our FB page. We wanted to run this again for those who’ve missed it. Very good information.

Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, wrote a blog post for the Washington Post. She asserts that the general trend of more seat work and less physical education and recess could be culprits.

Attention Problems and Behavior Problems

Attention Problems and Behavior Problems
What’s the connection and can they be fixed?

For an ADHD child who’s experienced failure or frustration at school, has a difficult time making friends, cannot process multiple step instructions, and who likely has poor self-esteem, defiance or misbehavior seem inevitable.

The off switch or filtering in their brains works differently, so they often have impulse control issues and a frequent lack of control over what they blurt out. Couple that with failure and frustration, and you have the perfect storm. No matter what you do; punishment, coaxing, bribing, yelling, pleading etc. don’t seem to work.

Play Attention not only teaches attention by making it concrete and controllable — Play Attention students can move screen characters by mind alone via BodyWave technology — but also teaches a variety of skills that make them successful at school or work. These successes greatly improve behavior.

Additionally, and this is important, since they can see their attention in real time, Play Attention makes it readily apparent that misbehavior negatively affects their success during game play. Success is predicated on their ability to stay in control and attentive. It’s simple to correlate this to being a classroom superstar. Play Attention students learn to self regulate or control their own behavior. This is the basis of the behavior shaping program built into Play Attention (it took us over 5 years to develop it).

The scientists and doctors of the prestigious Tufts School of Medicine researched Play Attention in Boston area schools over five years. They sent independent observers into the classroom to monitor students in their study of Play Attention. The observers were blinded to the students; they didn’t know anything about them but were required to monitor their behavior. Even though the students had been labeled ADHD with behavioral problems, the Play Attention students showed significant self-control — even 6 months after the study was completed! Never underestimate what your child can learn. We at Play Attention know there is an intelligent person hiding behind the defiance and frustration. Our goal is to set him free.

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