Symptoms of ADHD & Behavioral Problems in Children

Children with ADHD can experience a variety of negative symptoms, such as hyperactivity and poor listening skills, but what many parents may not realize is that ADHD children are also at risk for developing secondary behavioral issues, such as defiance, depression, or anxiety. These additional experiences can not only cause additional distress for both the child and their family, but it can actually cause their ADHD symptoms to become worse.

Further complicating the issue, treatment for many children with ADHD may include the use of stimulant ADHD medications which have been linked to unwanted side-effects.

To help parents learn more about their options, this article will discuss some ways to ensure that children are engaging in more adaptive behaviors. Furthermore, we’ll explain how the Drake Institute can support these efforts with clinical, professional treatment procedures, all offered without the use of drugs or invasive medical procedures.

Symptoms of ADHD in Children

It can be difficult to know if your child’s inattentive or hyperactive behavior is related to ADHD, especially if the child is exhibiting other behavioral problems like defiance and physical aggression.

To help parents understand their options for dealing with a child’s ADHD behavior problems, below are some of the most common symptoms associated with the 3 types of ADHD:

ADHD: (Inattentive presentation)

  • Inattention
  • Easily Distracted
  • Lack of sustained focus on non-preferred tasks
  • Difficulty finishing tasks such as homework without supervision
  • Poor short-term memory (e.g., difficulty following a series of instructions)
  • Often forgetful such as forgetting to turn in homework
  • Poor listening skills

ADHD: (Hyperactive-impulsive presentation)

  • Impulsive (acting without thinking of the consequences, blurting out answers, interrupting, experiencing difficulty waiting one’s turn)
  • Hyperactive (fidgety and/or difficulty sitting still)

ADHD: (Combined presentation)

  • Inattentive symptoms along with hyperactivity/impulsivity

ADHD Behaviors in Children: What Does the Clinical Research Say

Children with ADHD can also exhibit behavioral patterns that disrupt their development, causing them to not only underachieve at school, but also to suffer a number of physical consequences as well.

For children with ADHD, the basic requirements to perform either at home or in the classroom are significantly more difficult due to their disorder. As they become older, they can become increasingly aware of the additional effort that is required in order to attempt to accomplish the same goals as their peers and siblings. This can leave children with ADHD feeling frustrated. They can begin to feel as they are not as intelligent as their peers or perceive the world as being overly critical. For some, this perception can fuel resentment and defiance as they are asked to do things that they believe are “unfair” given their compromised neurophysical capacities.  For others, it can cause feelings of insecurity which can develop into symptoms of depression or performance anxiety.

Symptoms of ADHD can impact on a child’s physical well-being, as well. The Journal of Attention Disorders published a study in 2016 concluding that children with ADHD (ages 7 to 11) “are less likely to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors than non-ADHD youth”, which can not only impact the child’s health, but can serve to further exacerbate the ADHD child’s symptoms.

For example, ADHD children typically have decreased water consumption compared to their non-ADHD peers, and what’s more, ADHD children will tend to consume more artificially sweetened juice, which has been linked to additional hyperactivity and impaired focus.

ADHD children also have decreased sports participation, which can lead to weight gain. Exercise is very important for children—not just for physical health—but for the development of executive functioning in the frontal lobes, a region of the brain that is typically impaired in many ADHD children.

Additionally, due to their stimulating nature, ADHD children were also found to spend more than 2 hours a day in front of various screens, like TVs, computer monitors, iPads, and smartphones on school days, spend less than 1 hour a day reading, and to experience poorer sleep compared to non-ADHD children.

Improving Symptoms of ADHD in Kids

Fortunately, there are steps that parents can take to help mitigate their child’s ADHD symptoms that don’t involve invasive medical treatments or medications.

For example, encouraging ADHD children to participate in at least 1 hour of physical activity a day can help reduce hyperactivity and increase executive functioning.

Additionally, reading at bedtime in place of screen time can improve learning skills as well as improve sleep hygiene. As a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than 1-2 hours of screen time a day in order to facilitate optimal neural development.

While the content consumed through digital devices like Chromebooks and iPads can be educational, artificial light sources like LEDs and fluorescent bulbs can disrupt normal sleeping patterns, making it more difficult to both fall and stay asleep at night.

Sleep deprivation is another serious disorder that can cause decreased cognitive functioning and impaired short-term memory, so it’s best to develop proper sleeping habits at an early age.

For better sleep hygiene, a set bedtime should be maintained and all screens (including televisions) should be removed from the child’s bedroom. Of course, caffeinated beverages should also be avoided, and it’s recommended that children ages 6 to 13 sleep 9 to 11 hours a night.

The good news is that improving these lifestyle factors and behaviors in ADHD children is likely to have a positive impact on their ADHD symptoms. Since these lifestyle factors are all inter-related, improving one behavior or factor may have a positive effect on other lifestyle behaviors.

For example, more physical activity or exercise could result in more water intake, less screen time, and improved sleep.

Treating ADHD at the Drake Institute

In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, options are available to specifically treat the underlying symptoms of ADHD. For over 3 decades, the Drake Institute has successfully treated patients for ADHD, ADD, Autism, and a variety of stress-related disorders without the use of drugs or invasive protocols.

At the Drake Institute, we believe the best strategy for helping children with ADHD is to mobilize their brain’s natural ability to self-regulate, which is why the heart of our treatment program begins with a qEEG brain mapping.

With a brain map, our medical professionals can identify the underlying dysregulation of the brain that is contributing to a child’s ADHD symptoms (i.e., areas of the brain that are under or over-activated). Once we’ve obtained a clear picture of where the brain dysregulation is occurring, we can then use Neurofeedback and Neuromodulation techniques to help train the patient’s brain to work in a more adaptive and better-regulated state. Furthermore, unlike ADHD medications which only mask symptoms, neurotherapy is addressing the underlying cause of the difficulties which can result in long-lasting relief from ADHD symptoms.

Indeed, while some ADHD medications can provide symptom relief, the results tend to be dependent on continued usage, and once the patient stops taking their prescribed dosage, their symptoms are likely to return.

What’s more, the brain can develop a tolerance for ADHD medications, which means that the dosage may need to be increased to achieve the same level of symptom reduction. By continuing to increase the dosage of these medications, it not only increases the likelihood of additional side-effects but at times it may require the use of additional medications simply to manage the side effects of the initial stimulant medication. Furthermore, the long-term impact of maintaining children on these medications is controversial.

In contrast, the Drake Institute’s non-drug treatment protocols can provide symptom relief for ADHD and behavioral problems long after treatment has ended: by linking the patient’s symptoms to the area of the brain where the dysregulation is occurring, we can better create custom treatment plans that are individually tailored for the needs of each patient.

Contact the Drake Institute

If you, your child, or a family member is having problems with ADHD, please don’t hesitate to call us at 800-700-4233 for a free consultation.

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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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