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.

Starting Right: A Healthy Breakfast

Starting Right: A Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is claimed to be the most important meal of the day. Yet research shows that 31 million US citizens skip this meal every day. Reasons vary from not enough time to weight loss. With growing brains and bodies, children need to continually refuel their bodies for good development. Research shows that children who eat breakfast come to school on time and are more successful.

How often do we get up and pour our favorite cereal into a bowl for our child or ourselves. While convenient, this sugary concoction may exacerbate the symptoms of AD/HD. It makes simple sense that adding sugar and carbohydrates may give that initial burst of energy, but that’s not exactly what one wants for someone who has a difficult time controlling their behavior.

Many authorities find that a breakfast high in protein is most beneficial for people with attention challenges. In her article in Additude magazine by food and nutrition researcher Laura Stevens offers her take on the benefits of the right breakfast for people with AD/HD.

Click here to attend a free, health webinar on Thursday, January 22nd @ 11:00 AM EST.
Topic: Fueling our Children for Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health.  Combating the A’s with Nutrition:  Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, Asperger’s, Anger,  & Academic challenges.

So how does one create the perfect protein breakfast on an already hectic morning? There are many ways to incorporate protein. Some easy make-ahead ideas can be found on the Internet. With a little planning, these high-protein breakfast ideas become “grab and go” for hectic weekday mornings.

It makes sense to start each day in the best possible way. What we put into our bodies is closely related to how we perform throughout the day, but diet alone is not the complete answer to the test. Cognitive attention training along with a healthy diet will create long lasting results when battling AD/HD. Play Attention, the world leader in feedback-based attention training, along with a high protein breakfast, will set anyone up for success.

Barb Rollar

 

Clear Up The Clutter

Clear Up The Clutter

Clutter is a huge distraction for people with AD/HD, and can sometimes make the problem even worse. Consider this; picture your grandmother’s house with all the porcelain dolls, pictures, and knickknacks everywhere. Put your five year old in the middle of this environment and ask them to pay attention. Everything in that room is something they want to pay attention to. So if your home looks anything like this, removing the clutter can help.

Organizational training, like any other training, should begin in an environment that is conducive for success. In the initial steps of teaching a new behavior (i.e. organization), it is in a person’s best interest to be in the optimum environment possible. Therefore, we must consider removing the clutter.

Just as a coach would not allow a player to go into a big game without training and practice, we can’t expect our child to learn to filter distractions without training them to be organized under the best circumstances, and then introducing distractions as training goes along.

Let’s just say that your child’s room has a sports theme (or even a fairy princess theme). You’ve decked it out with bold colors, lots of wall art, and some really cool memorabilia. There’s also a comfy area with a TV and the latest gaming console—not to mention his dresser and storage bins for toys. And over in the corner, facing into the room, is a desk where your eight year old does his homework. You can’t understand why he/she is never able to complete their homework, or why it takes them hours to do so.

In addition to removing the clutter, cognitive training should be considered. For information on the best feedback cognitive training program, consider attending an informational webinar hosted by master educator, Peter Freer.

The truth is that, even with the best of intentions, you’ve provided an atmosphere that is so over stimulating that it is a major distraction, making it difficult for your student to concentrate. In an article in Additude magazine, Dr. Larry Silver offers some sound advice on dealing with distractions.

That’s not to say that your child will never be able to concentrate in that environment, but if you are dealing with someone with ADHD, you must start with baby steps. By removing some of the distractions, even if temporarily, you will set your child up for success. So clear the clutter for a time. Put all that great memorabilia in a closet and wait to bring it back out once your child can deal with the distractions.

Much research has been done to say that the mind of someone with AD/HD runs a million miles a minute. It’s not really a lack of attention, but the ability to pay attention to many things at once when the environment is very stimulating. We don’t need to teach them to pay attention in this environment. We must teach them to pay attention when things are less stimulating.

Attend an upcoming Play Attention webinar and learn how you can teach someone in your life to direct and sustain attention to low stimuli activities at will.

Barb Rollar

 

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

ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Drugs, & Alcohol

ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Drugs, & Alcohol
New study sheds light on this alarming link

Read More: http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/12/11/young-teen-adhd-conduct-disorder-substance-abuse/78495.html

It’s not difficult to find ADHD teens who participate in risky behavior that includes excessive alcohol, drug, and tobacco use. Throw in conduct disorder and lives can spin even further out of control.

Conduct disorder is an emotional/behavioral disorder that (PsychCentral.com) involves specific repetitive behaviors. “These behaviors fall into four main groupings: aggressive conduct that causes or threatens physical harm to other people or animals, nonaggressive conduct that causes property loss or damage, deceitfulness or theft, and serious violations of rules time and time again.”

A new study by The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence links ADHD with conduct disorder, drugs, and alcohol.

They study examined data on more than 2,500 teens between the ages of 12 and 15. The scientists found that a teen with both ADHD and conduct disorder was 3 to 5 times more likely to use drugs and alcohol, and begin use at an earlier age than a teen without either disorder.

If the teen had ADHD alone, they had an increased likelihood of tobacco use, but not alcohol use.

“Early onset of substance abuse is a significant public health concern,” says William Brinkman, MD, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the study’s lead author. “Adolescents who use substances before the mid-teen years are more likely to develop dependence on them than those who start later. This is why prevention is so important.”

Holiday Dress Rehearsal

Holiday Dress Rehearsal
Practice behavior and manners before your visit

You hope that all will go well on the way to grandma’s house. Things go well in the car, but as the door opens at her house, your child turns into a Tasmanian Devil! A whirling dervish of mayhem that grates on family members and causes you unneeded embarrassment and stress. Here are some tips that can help prevent your child turning into a Tasmanian Devil.

1. Schedule, schedule, schedule. You and your child can sit together in a quiet place and draw a timeline with pictures. Start with a drawing of your car at your house with the time you’ll be leaving placed just below the car. Mark a point on the timeline where snacks will be eaten, where you’ll stop for lunch, take a restroom break, etc. Encourage your child to document your trip on the timeline including sights along the way, unique cars they see, towns you pass, etc. This gives your child structure, a sense of participation, and keeps him occupied.

2. New or different environments can cause rambunctious behavior. It can be difficult for your child to control himself with the added excitement of the holidays. To minimize inappropriate behaviors and maximize holiday cheer, rehearse the event before hand. Assign family members a part in the rehearsal; you and your child will play yourselves. Select one other family member to play the role of the friend or family member whose house you’ll be visiting. Brainstorm with your child Act I, Act II, Act III, and Act IV. Act I, driving to person’s house. Act II, being greeted at the door and spending time with the host prior to dinner. Act III, dinner. Act IV, activity after dinner and goodbyes. For each Act, discuss expectations and timelines. After this discussion, you should act out and rehearse each part of your ‘play’. Take the opportunity to redirect when behaviors are inappropriate and provide positive feedback when your child displays desired behaviors during your rehearsal. An interactive dress rehearsal will allow your child to develop a clear understanding of expectations over the holidays.

3. Use a secret code. A word like “snowball” or a gesture like touching the tip of your nose can be your secret code to your child that means they need to adjust their current behavior. Allowing your child to practice this during your dress rehearsal can be fun and will keep you from having to yell or discipline your child in front of family.

4. Make the most of your child’s talents. Recite a poem, do magic tricks, take care of a younger child, present the host with some artwork they did while waiting for dinner, set the table, or sing holiday songs.

5. Prep other family members you’ll see over the holidays, and ask them to provide positive praise for good behavior. This can make a world of difference.

Remember this is a very exciting and stimulating time. If you have a child that is easily overexcited, the holidays can easily exacerbate this. A little preparation clearly defining your expectations can lead to a far merrier and less stressful holiday season.

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!