ADHD Symptoms and Natural Treatments for Children

ADHD Symptoms and Natural Treatments for Children

Sometimes, it may be hard for your child to stay focused and complete a task at school or home and this can affect his or her productivity. Generally, children can be very energetic and hyperactive but when this becomes an everyday problem, then it could be ADHD an abbreviation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD doesn’t just refer to someone’s attention span being bad, it can make your child forgetful, unorganized, and prone to losing things. 

In fact, there is more to it than you think. But what is ADHD? What are the symptoms? How can it be treated? If these are the questions going through your mind, then relax! In this article, we show you everything you need to know about ADHD in children.

 So, keep reading!

What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a chronic condition that affects millions of children around the world and often continues into adulthood. ADHD affects human behavior and includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.

As a result, children with ADHD appear restless,  have trouble concentrating, and act impulsively. ADHD symptoms tend to be noticed at an early age and can become more noticeable as a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start schooling.

 Most cases are diagnosed when a child is 3 to 7 years old, but sometimes they are diagnosed later in childhood. Sometimes ADHD symptoms often improve with age, but many adults diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to have problems. Children with ADHD may also experience other problems, such as trouble sleeping and anxiety.

Causes of ADHD in Children

The exact cause of ADHD is unclear, however, research efforts have shown that several factors may contribute to the development of ADHD in children. Such factors include:

  • Genetics
  • Exposure to toxins in the environment such as lead found primarily in paint and pipes in old buildings
  • Usage of drugs, alcohol, or toxic substances by the mother during pregnancy
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Although sugar is a common suspect in causing hyperactivity, there is no reliable evidence for it.

Symptoms of ADHD in Children

The symptoms of ADHD in children are clear and well-defined.  Children with ADHD may struggle with low self-esteem, difficult relationships, and poor academic performance. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age, however, some people never fully get over their ADHD symptoms. But they can learn the ways to deal with it.

ADHD symptoms begin before age 12 and in some children can be noticed as early as age 3. The symptoms of this condition can be either be severe, moderate, or mild and they can continue till adulthood.

The symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be classified into 2 types of behavioral problems:

  • Inattentive behaviors
  • hyperactive and impulsive behaviors

 The main signs of inattentiveness in children are:

  • The child has brief attention spans and is easily distracted
  • The child makes careless mistakes – for example, in school assignments
  • He or she appears to forget or lose things
  • He or she can’t get involved in tedious or time-consuming tasks
  • The child can’t seem to hear or carry out instructions
  • Ever-changing activities or tasks
  • The child has trouble organizing tasks

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity in children are:

  • The child is unable to sit still, especially in a calm or quiet environment
  • The child is constantly restless
  • He or she can’t concentrate on the task
  • Excessive physical activity
  • He or she talks too much
  • He or she can’t wait for his turn
  • The child is often lost in thoughts
  • The child interrupts conversations
  • The child has little or no sense of danger

Complications Associated with ADHD in Children

All the symptoms of ADHD can cause significant problems in a child’s life. These problems may include poor school performance, poor social interaction with children and other adults, and discipline problems. Children with ADHD: 

  • Often have difficulty in class which can lead to academic failure and be judged by other children and adults
  • Are more prone to all kinds of accidents and injuries  than  children without ADHD
  • Tend to be self-deprecating
  • Are more likely to have difficulty interacting  and being accepted by peers and adults
  • Can have increased risk of alcohol and drug abuse and other crimes

Natural Treatments for ADHD in Children

Depending on your child’s age, symptoms, and body reaction to medicines, you may decide to stop your child from taking regular medicines and go for natural treatments. Fortunately for you, there are a number of great natural alternatives for treating ADHD in children and also adults.

However, it is important to ask your doctor before you change the treatment plan you have been using. It is also expedient to mention that even though home remedies are great, they are not to replace the treatment plan prescribed by the doctor.

The following natural treatments are some options you can add to the daily routine of your child  (but bear in mind that these options are not approved by the FDA).

Although these natural treatments are not as effective as those prescribed by the doctor but when they are combined with healthy living, they may provide some relief to the symptoms your child may be experiencing. These natural treatments include:

1. Fish oil

This is one of the most common supplements used by ADHD patients and this is because fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. There are several benefits of including them in your diet and one of such is that it boost brainpower. As a result, it may lessen the symptoms of ADHD in children.

Fish oil assists in increasing the levels of omega-3 that children with ADHD naturally lack. This then helps your child’s brain function properly so your child can focus better.

You can also increase your child’s omega-3 intake by eating more seafood. The vital omega-3 fatty acids include EPA and DHA, which are seen on most labels of products.

2. Melatonin

Did you know that lack of sleep affects everything from your memory to your digestive system? It is well known that lack of sleep can have serious physical and mental health consequences. For children with ADHD, lack of sleep can reduce their attention span.

One way to deal with your child’s sleep disorders naturally is to make them take melatonin every night before they go to bed. Melatonin is a hormone that the body naturally produces to help regulate sleep but when sleep cycles are unstable, then your child’s melatonin levels can also be affected.

Taking melatonin supplements can help stabilize your child’s sleep cycles. Melatonin is safe for children in the short term, but little is known about its long-term use.

You should start with a very low dose and work your way up every night to find the ideal dose for your child or consult your doctor.

3. Zinc

Found in meat, legumes, seeds, nuts, and other foods, this mineral strengthens the immune system and helps the body build proteins that support cell membrane growth.

Interestingly, zinc deficiency has symptoms similar to ADHD: inattention,  cognitive-developmental disorders, and restless behavior. However, zinc deficiency does not directly correlate with the symptoms of ADHD.

If your child’s zinc levels are normal, this remedy might not do much for you. However, if your child has zinc deficiency, taking zinc supplements can reduce hyperactivity symptoms.  Always consult your doctor before starting any supplements, as too much zinc in your system can cause problems.

4. Iron

Many children with ADHD have relatively low levels of iron which may explain the irregular dopamine regulation in the brain. One study found that children with ADHD who took iron supplements had improved symptoms of ADHD  compared to children who didn’t.  Ask your child’s doctor to measure your child’s iron levels to determine if he or she needs iron supplements.

5. Magnesium

Like zinc supplements, magnesium supplements are only useful for children who are deficient in magnesium. However, a 2017 study of children with ADHD found that more than 70% had a magnesium deficiency and therefore benefited from taking magnesium supplements.

6. Diet

Research has shown that a diet low in processed foods and chemicals, with an emphasis on avoiding food allergens, can help ease symptoms of ADHD in people of all ages.

If you’ve never paid much attention to your child’s body response to different foods, you might consider trying a diet to find out what he or she is sensitive to. Even if you don’t restrict certain foods, try to ensure your child eats a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fish, legumes, and whole grains.

Additionally, removing certain foods from your child’s diet usually has an effect if your child manifests the symptoms of hyperactivity rather than inattentiveness. This method has also been proven to work for children who have allergies, eczema, gastrointestinal issues, and other allergic-type behaviors.

7. Behavioral Therapy

For young children, whose brains and behavior are particularly malleable, behavioral therapy can help reduce disruptive tendencies. This can be done with a licensed therapist who specializes in behavioral therapy and will often include both parent and child participating in therapy sessions together.

A professional will teach you how to reinforce positive behaviors and create structure, which can help your child stay calm and productive.   It is popularly used to tackle anxiety and depression.

CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) is a sort of mental health treatment that helps people suffering from ADHD.  Note that research on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) as a specific treatment for ADHD is still in its infancy, but its positive effects on anxiety disorders are well known. Adults with ADHD can profit from behavioral therapy as well, but it takes on a different form.

If you want to know if CBT is right for your child, then find a therapist who has experience helping people with ADHD. 

8. Probiotics

It`s no secret that probiotics have a ton of health benefits, from digestion boosting powers to allergy relief.  Probiotics are increasingly being recommended by scientists as a treatment for a variety of mental health issues.

While research on the use of probiotics to treat ADHD is still in its early stages, numerous trials have shown encouraging results. Also, developing a healthy gut microbiome for your child can facilitate a active and high-functioning brain.

9. Exercise

Sometimes there`s nothing better than a good sweat to clear your mind and calm you down and for children with ADHD, it should be part of their daily routine.

Exercise is beneficial for your child’s body and mind. In fact, it profits your child in so many ways. It increases dopamine and promotes brain development and function, which can help children with ADHD focus better.

What Children with ADHD Should Avoid

Managing ADHD can sometimes be as simple as avoiding certain substances and behaviors. Here are some of the most prevalent triggers:

1. Artificial coloring and food dyes

Food dyes are in almost everything these days, so this is a tricky one, but a few studies have connected their consumption to greater hyperactivity in children.

Food dyes may worsen the symptoms of ADHD in some children and it is best to remove some foods from the child’s diet to avoid artificial dyes.

2. Gluten (but only if your child is already sensitive to it)

More research is needed, but one study found that people with ADHD saw significant improvement in their ADHD symptoms when sticking to a gluten-free diet.

It is important to observe any food sensitivities and make sure your child is eating a diet that gives his or her body the required nutrients.  Getting all the right vitamins and minerals and giving up foods that aren’t right for your child’s body can help manage their ADHD symptoms.

3. High or low blood sugar

Research has found that children who consume sugary foods and drinks are prone to hyperactivity which makes it harder for them to pay attention.

On the other hand, hypoglycemia can mimic the symptoms of ADHD. Your best bet is to keep your child’s blood sugar levels in the safe zone to help them focus better.

For your child to maintain normal sugar levels, it is important to ensure that the child’s meals, especially at the beginning of the day are balanced.

4. Technology

It has been said that too much of everything is bad and this is the issue with technology. A study has shown that too much screen time can result in increased impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness in children and adolescents.

This doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t use phones and gadgets but it would help if you can limit your child’s screen time.

5. Stress

No one is actively looking for stress, and being asked to avoid it can actually cause stress. ADHD itself can be a source of stress, especially if symptoms result in your child being late for school.

You should help your child take deep breaths. You can take the child to the park, get some toys or just do something to make your child happy.

6. Avoid potential allergens

A diet that limits potential allergens can help improve the behavior of some children with ADHD.  If your child is suspected of having an allergy, it is advisable to consult an allergist. But you can help your child avoid these foods: 

  • Chemical additives/preservatives which are often used to preserve the oil in products such as potato chips, chewing gum, dry cake mix, and cereals among others.
  • Chocolates
  • Foods containing salicylates such as berries, chili powder, apples, ciders, grapes, oranges, peaches,  prunes, plums, and tomatoes (salicylates are naturally occurring chemicals in plants and are the main components of many painkillers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  How long does it take for natural treatments to work for ADHD in children? 

A.  How quickly natural treatments start to work depends on the child and the treatment used. For some remedies, you may start to notice changes within a week or two. In other cases, it may take several weeks to start noticing effects. You could wait for at least a month or two before deciding if a supplement is beneficial for your child. 

Q.  What vitamins and supplements improve ADHD symptoms in children?

A.  Some vitamins and supplements that may help improve ADHD symptoms include omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin D, iron, and magnesium.

Q.  How can ADHD be prevented?

A.  During pregnancy, avoid anything that may affect the development of the fetus. For example, do not drink alcohol, use harmful drugs, or smoke. You should also protect children from contaminants and toxins such as cigarette smoke and lead paint. Although limiting screen time has not yet been proven, it is advisable to prevent children from being overexposed to television and video games during the first five years of life.


Many children go through periods where they are restless or inattentive. This is usually completely normal and does not necessarily mean they have ADHD. However, if you regularly notice the symptoms highlighted in this article, you should speak to your child’s teacher about your observations and of course, consult your doctor.


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