Using Sports to Calm Your Child with ADHD
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The Missing Link in Treating ADHD?
Could sports be the missing link in your treatment of your child’s ADHD? Experts believe so. Research has found that participating in sports as an after school enrichment program or in a competitive nature can increase dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain causing increased focus, improved mood and self esteem. Now before you go signing your child up for any sport, it’s important to also consider which sports are the best for a child with ADHD.
The Best Sports for Kids with ADHD
Here’s a list of some of the best sports to consider before you sign your child up for a sport.
Swimming - Swimming provides all over body proprioceptive input as the water glides over ever inch of your body while working the upper and lower body. Even though your child is basically competing against him/herself to improve personal times, they are still part of a team. Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps who also has ADHD has said in interviews that swimming had given him the structure he needed.
Martial Arts - Discipline and self control are two skills that is experienced through martial arts. This is another sports that enables the individual to compete against him/herself for competition.
Gymnastics - With all the tumbles, twists and turns, gymnastics gives its participants all over body proprioceptive input as well. Attention to detail to compete each movement correctly also helps with focus and attention and limits distraction.
Horse Back Riding - Equine therapy has become extremely popular as of late and for good reason. Children love to work with animals and the animals almost instinctively know where special care is required for a child. Equine therapy is also part of many behavior modification programs.
Soccer - The constant action of kicking and blocking the soccer ball provides the action and movement kids with ADHD need. It’s also a great introduction to “team work”, a must when working on social skills.
Baseball: Participating in baseball teaches patience and sportsmanship. As it is a slow moving game, it’s important for the coach to know that your child has ADHD so that he/she can change his positions frequently to prevent boredom if needed.
Basketball - A good team sport as it’s a very fast moving game and keeps your child with ADHD engaged.
Hockey - Another great team sport as you child will be moving constantly and also getting proprioceptive input as well.
Informing the Coach
Many youth sports organizations utilize parents as coaches and many are unaware of the signs and symptoms that children with ADHD present with, so it’s imperative that whoever is your child’s coach, you set up a time to meet and chat. Be sure to tell the coach any triggers that sets off your child and inform him/her of the strategies that you have found that helps your child. It’s important for this time to be a confidence building time for your child, not another stressful activity as we are looking to calm your child, not escalate him/her.
Feed the Brain Before the Game
Before your child hits the court or field, it’s a really good idea to feed your young athlete a good healthy meal so their brain can perform at peak level. So what are you to feed them? Let’s take a look:
Be sure to feed him/her a meal consisting of a balance of complex carbs and protein to keep them going throughout the game.
Protein - Chicken is a great protein source to keep your athlete going through the game and beyond. Eggs are another great option for a morning game.
Pasta - Complex carb that will fuel your athlete with glucose for energy and any extra glucose is stored in the muscles and liver for an extra boost.
Fruits and Veggies - A great source of carbs to fuel your athletes brain and muscles with antioxidants, natural vitamins and minerals.
Sunflower seeds - a great source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to also fuel the brain.
Remember the Reason
Sometimes it’s hard for us parents to remember that our kids are kids playing a game. Although there are some natural athletes out there and hopefully yours is one, for the majority of us, it’s really about building self confidence, trust, sportsmanship, teamwork and resilience and of course the calming effect that sports can help with our kids with ADHD.
A Must Have
As a mom to a child with ADHD, I’ve been there and want to serve you well while you navigate this journey. Please check out my other blog posts and download my FREE BOOKLET - 5 Ways to Keep Your Child with ADHD Calm and Focused here.
Until next time,
About the author: Mary is a wife of 22 years and mom to three children, one who has ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. She is also a Certified Health Coach and loves to serve her clients through a Free Facebook group, Online and In-Person Individual Family Coaching and Group Coaching programs. She is also a self published author of "Food & The Brain" a book about how food affects our brains and the creator of "Grocery Store to Table" a program with a proven approach to helping your child accept new foods into their diets.