How to Manage ADHD Without Medication

3 min read
a head with adhd in it with various items flowing out from it

When your child is diagnosed with ADHD, or is showing symptoms of an executive function disorder, you will have to make several decisions regarding your child’s care. Some decisions you will have to make include deciding whether your child needs medication or coaching and tutoring to help them excel in school. 

After absorbing your child’s diagnosis and consulting with their doctor, you may have chosen to opt out of medication. You may be wondering about what options there are for managing ADHD without medication. Below, we’ll outline some management tips for improving their executive function.

Understanding Your Child’s ADHD Type

ADHD can appear in different forms, and it’s helpful to know which kind your child’s symptoms align with in order to better understand how to manage those symptoms and behaviors. Below are several types of ADHD:

  • Inattentive ADHD: This type of ADHD is characterized by a lack of attentiveness. It can cause your child to be easily distracted in many settings, including school. This type does not include hyperactivity or impulsivity.
  • Hyperactive and/or Impulsive ADHD: While a child can remain attentive and focused with this form of ADHD, they will have episodes of hyperactivity and may be much more impulsive in their actions.
  • Combined ADHD: This is the most common form of ADHD. It includes all of the behaviors associated with the aforementioned ADHD types.

Girls are slightly more likely to have the inattentive form, which adults don’t always associate with ADHD. The diagnostic criteria are based on behaviors found in boys, meaning girls may be less likely to receive a timely diagnosis. If you notice your daughter displaying a lack of attention or focus, it may be worthwhile to consult your family doctor about those symptoms at her next visit.

4 Tips for Behavioral Management

If you’ve decided to treat ADHD without medication, then it’s crucial to learn how to help your child manage their behaviors.

1. Establish Consistent Routines 

Helping your child develop strong and consistent routines can strengthen their focus. Establish a routine that includes household chores, homework, computer time, and downtime. Work with your child to create a doable schedule based on their focus and energy patterns throughout the day. For example, if they feel tired in the afternoon, schedule downtime to avoid overstimulation.

2. Role Model Good Behavior

It can be difficult for a child to understand why a routine is important if they don’t see their parents modeling the same behavior. Make a point to sit down with your child while they do their homework and you work on your own projects or create a checklist for yourself that they can see you follow. 

3. Build Healthy Habits 

ADHD symptoms can be worsened if your child is not practicing healthy habits. For example, lack of sleep can increase overstimulation, while a poor or unbalanced diet can lead to issues such as losing focus. To help your child gain a full night of sleep, remove electronics from their room or limit screen time a few hours before bedtime.

4. Praise Them

Children with ADHD can often find themselves being scolded or punished because of behavior that is outside of their immediate control. To help them establish a healthy outlook, praise your child when they complete tasks, such as finishing their homework on time, doing the dishes without getting distracted, or helping you with a chore. Praise is one of the best ways to boost confidence and promote consistency. 

How a Behavioral Coach Can Help

If you’re still wondering about a more effective approach, executive function coaching is a great opportunity. Your child will receive one-on-one attention to help guide them towards making successful choices and developing routines that work. Coaches will typically work on a few key areas with your child. These include: 

  • Time Management: A coach can help your child figure out how much time they need for daily tasks, how to prioritize tasks that may need more time for, and how to plan their days around the time they need.
  • Goal Development: Having clearly defined goals is a hard task for kids. A coach can help your child establish goals based on their needs. For example, if your child has trouble focusing, a goal could be to sit through one class without losing focus. Developing and achieving goals are key to growth.
  • Organization: Oftentimes, a lack of organization can lead to a spiral of effects, such as loss of focus when a child is seeking something they need. Being well organized helps your child tackle each day.
  • Social and Self-Confidence Skills: Building social skills is crucial for children. Children with ADHD can benefit from a confidence boost, as they will be more likely to focus and complete tasks when they’re praised by their peers.

Even if your child sees a therapist or psychiatrist, coaching can provide valuable hands-on support that evolves as they learn and grow. All these professionals take different approaches to managing ADHD, and these methods can be complementary and show kids that they have a wide range of trusted adults ready to help them. 

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