ADDitude's top ADD/ADHD experts answer readers' questions about parenting children with, and about adults living with, ADD/ADHD.

posted: Thursday September 17th - 2:47pm

How Can We Wean Our Child Off Video Games?

My 12-year-old son plays video games after school for four hours each day, and up to eight hours on weekend days. How do we reduce this to two hours a day? When we try to get him to stop, he goes ballistic.

Parents often report how difficult it is to reduce their child’s time spent playing video games. In this case, there are compelling reasons to make the effort. Research shows that playing video games for more than three hours per day is detrimental to your child's psychological adjustment and academic performance. So capping play time at less than three hours per day, especially on school days, is...
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posted: Monday August 31st - 1:53pm

Meds and Movement

My child’s teachers are always trying to get him to sit still, but he seems to learn better when he moves around. ADHD medication has increased his focus, but is there any evidence that movement does as well?

Your observations about your child may be correct. A recent study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology showed that attention and working memory improved when children with ADHD were more physically active. In other words, their hyperactivity may play a function in increasing learning. Children without ADHD did not learn better when they were more active. This research, especially if confirmed in additional studies, may...
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posted: Monday August 31st - 10:22am

Perchance To Sleep? Overcoming ADHD Sleeplessness

Can you give me a sleep plan? I have tried good sleep hygiene — sleeping in a dark, cool room, unplugging from electronics an hour before turning in — but my mind still races when my head hits the pillow. What can I do?

I’m glad you are improving your sleep hygiene. I would also try learning a relaxation technique. This could be as simple as breathing, taught in many venues. Dr. Andrew Weil’s website has a good example: I would also look into yoga or mindfulness-based stress reduction. Self-hypnosis is an excellent tool for putting you in the right frame of mind for sleep. You can either work...
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posted: Monday August 31st - 9:52am

Seeking a Broader-Minded Doctor

My child’s pediatrician told me that diet has no effect on managing ADHD. Despite my protests, he prescribed medication after diagnosing my son. How can I find a doctor who uses natural treatments?

Although medications are sometimes the appropriate answer, it is clear that your doctor is not listening to your concerns. He also seems unaware of the evidence indicating that food and diet do indeed help some children manage ADHD symptoms. Finding a broader-minded doctor or one who uses natural treatments is not always easy, depending on where you live. I would Google “Pediatric Integrative Medicine” in your...
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posted: Friday August 21st - 9:30am

“I Feel Like a Loser at 21”

Young adults with attention deficit are sometimes at a loss to boost their self-esteem. Here are some ways to do it.

I am 21 years old and was diagnosed with ADHD at 14. I feel like a loser. I barely graduated college, and I have had trouble holding on to a job. Many of my friends are doing well. I feel like crap. How do I get out of the gravitational pull of low self-esteem? Dr. Wes: You don’t have to hang out long with ADHD people to...
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posted: Tuesday August 11th - 2:22pm

“But I Hate Sports!” How to Get Your Video-Gamer Outside

“My son’s playdates comprise playing video games for five hours on a Saturday. He’s a nerdy kid — no sports, 130 IQ, ADHD, non-outdoors person — any suggestions?”

I am a big believer in a healthy play diet that balances all of a child’s activities — academic, athletic, artistic, gaming, etc. However, everyone is different. Sometimes, the kids who want to play sports five hours a day could benefit from improving their digital literacy. A healthy play diet also provides opportunities for creative and unstructured play, but some kids simply don't have a creative...
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posted: Monday June 22nd - 9:00am

How Can I Break My Child’s Minecraft Obsession?

When your child gets sucked into an addicting game, battles often ensue over time limits on screen time. Here are some strategies, apps, and tools for achieving Minecraft moderation.

Q: “Our 8-year-old recently earned the opportunity to play Minecraft after a year of waiting. It has been a great motivational tool and I like the imaginative/creative aspect of it. However, it frightens me to see how his interest in this game has quickly turned in to an obsession, and how isolating it is becoming for him. We try to make it interactive by playing as...
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posted: Thursday May 21st - 1:58pm

The Neuroscience Behind Video-Game Addiction

“Does any current neuroscience investigate whether and how different kinds of games affect the brain? Do different games affect their brains differently?”

There is no question that playing video games affects the brain. In existing studies, neuroscientists have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRIs) to see how video games can change the structure of the brain. And the results show that video games can improve brain-based skills and help kids with ADHD. Researchers Daphne Bavelier and Shawn Green have demonstrated that playing action-based video games can improve processing...
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posted: Thursday May 21st - 1:40pm

Are Car Racing Games Eroding My Child’s Brain?

“My son loves car racing games. I find them mindless and a waste of time. Should I be concerned about their impact on a child with working memory and executive function issues?”

Racing games like Mario Kart are actually one of the best game genres for teaching problem-solving skills, creative thinking, and fine-motor skills. But because they are so much fun, some kids want to play them for hours on end, diminishing the cognitive benefits they might otherwise derive from playing. There are two main types of car-racing games: - Simulation games where the player is usually placed in the...
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posted: Thursday May 21st - 10:02am

"Neat Tricks" — Tips for Daily Decluttering

I heard that doing a little decluttering every other day keeps a room from getting too messy. But I like to do things in a fit of hyperfocus all at once. Any suggestions for me?

Let’s make a distinction here. If you want a tidy home, you must spend some time daily on maintenance neatening. For decluttering, though, your hyperfocus is perfect. Set aside a day every few months to “weed” a chosen room before moving on to the next. Leave time at the end of the day to take the culled stuff to its forever home — the curb, the...
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