• No categories


Helping sensitive kids to cope with stress

Mia-Von-Scha-kids2-150x150by Mia Von SchaTransformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

There are many children incorrectly diagnosed as being either ADHD or as having Oppositional Defiance Disorder who are really just highly sensitive children who are overwhelmed by the rush of sensory input that they’re unable to filter out. I know; I’m one of them. When I’m in a noisy restaurant I can’t block out the background noise, I struggle to hear the people I’m sitting with and I tend to become frustrated and irritable. I don’t like parties and crowds – I prefer one on one interactions in open spaces. Picnics are great! I struggle to learn in a group setting, particularly where there are discussions going on while I need to concentrate. I did my degree by correspondence.

I’ve learned over the years to manage this. I take time out for myself. I’ve learned breathing and meditation. I know when I need to step away and which events to simply refuse. But I’m an adult and I have a measure of control over where I do and don’t go and what I choose to be involved in. Most kids don’t have this freedom. They don’t get to decide whether to go to school or not, or which social functions their parents attend to stay out of. There aren’t many public places that have quiet corners.

Unless a highly sensitive child is lucky enough to have a highly sensitive parent (they usually do have one) they’re likely to feel very misunderstood out there. They struggle to focus not because they’re unable to but because they need a different learning environment. They struggle to control their tempers because they’re totally overwhelmed (I still lose it completely from time to time!).

So here are some tools that I have found useful along the way – teach them to your highly sensitive child (in fact, teach them to all your children) – they will help them to cope in times of overwhelm, help them to feel more in control, help them to focus, and help them to feel understood.

1. The Victory Position: Put your arms up in a V, lift your head and eyes up as if you’ve just won the 100m sprint. Studies have shown that holding this position for just 2 minutes can drop your cortisol levels by 25% (see Amy Cuddy’s talk on how your body language shapes who you are). Cortisol is a stress hormone that affects both how you see yourself and how others see you and can hamper learning and increase aggressive reactivity. If your child feels uncomfortable doing this in public, teach them to find a bathroom or private space they can hide in for 2 minutes until they feel in control again.

2. Look up: Your eyes are connected to your brain and different eye positions are linked to different areas in your brain. Looking down is associated with the emotional centres of the brain and can make you feel worse. Looking up stops the brain connecting with its emotional centres and prevents you from descending into an emotional spiral. This is such a simple tool that can be used anywhere at any time. If you notice your child is becoming overly emotional just click your fingers above their heads and tell them to look up at your hand.

3. Use Parasympathetic Breathing: The way that you breathe will activate either the Sympathetic (Fight or Flight) or the Parasympathetic (Rest and Digest) nervous system. Shallow breathing in the upper chest is associated with stress. Teach your kids that when they feel themselves getting stressed or overwhelmed and on the brink of losing it that they need to double the length of their outbreath. An out breath that is double the length of an in breath forces you to take a very short deep inbreath and then have a slow release. This will kick in the parasympathetic nervous system (acetylcholine) and will calm the sympathetic (adrenaline) and help them to feel calm reducing reactivity. A simple way to put this for the little ones is to say that they need to count to ten and breathe. So they breathe in as they count to three, then take a short pause on the number four and then breathe out as they count five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

4. Go into the Learning State: This is a mild form of hypnosis (no, you cannot be controlled by anyone else in this state – hypnosis is really a deep form of relaxation) and like the parasympathetic breathing, it tricks the body into believing that you are really relaxed and everything is ok. To do it, raise your eyes up and focus on a spot on the wall above eye level. Once the eyes get tired, expand your vision to the periphery (everything you can see to the left and right while still looking at your spot). Then bring the eyes back down to level, but keep awareness of the periphery. When we are very stressed (being chased by a lion) we have foveal vision – focusing intently on one spot (the lion). But when we are on the patio of our beach house, we expand our vision to take in the entire scenery. So when we activate our peripheral vision it tells our minds that we are on the beach not being chased by a lion and our physiology responds accordingly! This is particularly powerful when used in conjunction with the parasympathetic breathing.

5. Cutting off the sensory overload: Sometimes we really do need to be removed from the excessive stimulus. Teach your kids to recognize their own warning signs and to learn to step away. Go outside, go into a darkened room, use earplugs / headphones with relaxing music. There are some amazing musical tracks that are specifically designed to relax the brain and it may be worth investing in these if they appeal to your child. If you know you are going to be at a highly stimulating event, make sure that your child has quiet time beforehand, quiet time afterwards, and an escape plan during the event (headphones, going to sit in the car, a quiet room they can shut themselves in).

These tools have been invaluable to me in navigating my world and being able to cope in a society that is not designed for, nor even aware of highly sensitive people. I hope that you will implement them with your own sensitive children and that they bring them a similar sense of relief and control.

Click here to find a list of therapeutic services for families, kids and teens on Jozikids and here on Kznkids

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids

An ADHD diagnosis, now what?

fatimaBy Fatima Kazee, wife to a fisherman, mum to a professor, a super hero and ‎a little princess.  She’s addicted to sneakers anything chocolatey &  is an invaluable part of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

Unreasonable. Stubborn. No wait… Obstinate.  Impulsive. Definitely defiant.  Or maybe all of the above describe how my son is.  He is also, when he’s in the mood, humorous, witty, caring, compassionate and kind.  He is such a bubbly little boy with an amazing gift for maths and making us laugh.  For a lot of the time though his ways and personality have been diagnosed (by a highly qualified psychiatrist) as being ADHD with anxiety and ODD (opposition defiance disorder).  Together with this mouthful of a diagnosis, which I may add was thrown at me after an almost 3 hour assessment; I was given a script for Concerta (similar to Ritalin), epilim and some Omegas.  The script is still lying in my drawer, unused.

I won’t lie, it wasn’t an easy choice.  Some days I feel like pulling my own teeth out, most days pulling his teeth out and other days I just crawl into bed, glad that the day is over.  Every single thing is a struggle with him.  Getting him to wake up for school, brush his teeth, wear his clothes, eat his food, tie his own shoe laces… You get the gist.  He can’t play with his siblings, he can’t lose a game, he can’t sit still and he has the memory of an elephant.  He. Doesn’t. Let. Things. Go.  There are feelings of resentment, frustration, guilt, self-pity and more self-pity.  Everyone bears the brunt of the tantrums and the shouting (mine not his).  Everyone gives in just to keep the peace which is very unfair.  So why not just give him the medication and save ourselves the agony, right?  It’s like a magic potion, a solution in a pill, that will fix the bad behaviour.

I’ve done a lot of research,  I’ve met with people who have experience in this field and read volumes of opinions on the subject.  I had moments of agreeing with each side of the argument.  One of the things I came to realise is that ADHD can be genetic and in our case it is.  And no surprise here, he gets it from me.  Granted I’m not hyperactive (that would be funny) but I have many of the other symptoms of ADHD.  And therein lies the difficulty.  It’s my inability to remain calm, to be patient, to be rational and reasonable.  To realise that he is 7 years old and that I am an adult.  To not engage in a power struggle.  That he is a kid and he is meant to want to push boundaries.  That he does have difficulty concentrating and that we are both highly sensitive.  So the best person to understand what he is going through is me.


neo education centre supergirl

Neo Education Centre


We’ve decided to take the alternative route, the more difficult, it-takes-longer-to-see-results route because we don’t want to fix my son’s behaviour.  Instead we want to embrace who he is and the way he expresses himself without using mind-altering drugs.

We have some natural supplements to help with concentration and to help calm him down.  We’ve changed his diet and incorporated more exercise into his day.  I give him time to relax and watch TV for a little while before we get onto homework because that’s what he needs.  I admit that I tread more carefully with him than I do with my other kids, to avoid an outburst.  I give him more time to complete a certain task and the instructions for the task are given one at a time.  We play mind games without him knowing, to strengthen him, help him focus better.  I’ve changed my mind set and way of dealing with him.  I sometimes feel devious because I do things in a sly way but you know what, it works.  For all of us.  I’ve definitely seen a change in the past 6 weeks since we started the ‘campaign’ and aside from his treatment, I think it’s because we understand him better and act accordingly.  It’s exhausting and can bring me to tears some days… but I feel wholeheartedly that I am doing what’s best for him, not what’s easiest for me.

I know that I’ve made this decision because he  is only 7 years old.  I don’t want him to be dependent on drugs.  He can be his true self and when he is old enough to decide for himself, he can decide if he wants to take medication.  I acknowledge that it is a lifetime disorder that changes its nature as he ages. I know this from experience. I also know that as his mother, as the person responsible for his well-being, that my instinct tells me I’m doing the right thing right now.  I know that if he had diabetes or cancer that I would weigh up options differently.  I may change my mind at some point, can’t say I never will but right now, I feel that this is in his best interests.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Are we drugging our children too easily?

Mia Von Scha &kids


By Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

I’m absolutely horrified by the number of children now on severely mind-altering drugs. Did you know that the fastest growing market for both Ritalin and Prozac is pre-school aged children? Why are our children depressed? Why is nobody looking into the underlying causes before medicating? How can we possibly be diagnosing preschoolers with ADHD?  Here are, in my opinion, the extremely broad criteria for diagnosing a child with ADHD:

  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Often does not follow through on instructions
  • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools).
  • Is often easily distracted
    adhd youth


  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.
  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
  • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate.
  • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
  • Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
  • Sound like any 3-5 year-olds you know? And is it any wonder that 4 times as many boys are prescribed Ritalin as girls?

    In a quick-fix world we need to be careful about the messages we are giving to our children about what is normal and what is not.

    It is not normal for a preschooler, or even one in early Primary school to be able to sit still for long periods of time and concentrate on things that they have absolutely no interest in. It is normal for kids to be enthusiastic and energetic and driven to fulfilling their own highest priorities (namely play).

    I’m not saying that there are no kids with genuine disorders in their brain chemistry who may benefit from some assistance, but we have to exhaust all alternatives before reaching for pills. And that goes for us as adults too. We’re far too accustomed to grabbing an Aspirin instead of figuring out WHY we had a headache in the first place. Or heading for the tranquilizers before we’ll enter into the very real world of human emotion. Or glugging down the antacids instead of addressing our diets.

    It is time to STOP.

    Before you drug your children, investigate the side effects, dangers, and alternatives.

    Some of the side effects for Ritalin include nervousness, insomnia, joint pains, fever, anorexia, nausea, dizziness, palpitations, headache, dyskinesia, drowsiness, increased blood pressure and pulse, rapid heart rate, angina, cardiac arrhythmias, abdominal pain, and psychosis.

    Children have died.

    Before deciding that your child is definitely one of the few who genuinely needs medication

    Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is your child going through something upsetting emotionally (keep in mind that this could be something positive – a holiday, a new sibling)?
  • Is your child getting all his/her needs met?
  • Is your child getting enough Omega 3’s in his/her diet?
  • Have you tried cutting out sugar and refined carbohydrates?
  • Is your child getting enough water every day?
  • Has your child been exposed to high levels of lead in his/her environment?
  • Does your child have undiagnosed allergies (dairy, soya, wheat, etc.)?
  • Is your child exposed to large amounts of food additives and excito-toxins such as MSG?
  • Is your child watching too much TV and/or spending too much time on video games (more than an hour a day)?
  • Is your child getting enough exercise in a day?
  • Is your child getting enough sleep?
  • Does your child have a boring teacher, or a teacher who cannot be bothered to find out the child’s real interests and speak in ways that the child can relate to?
  • Is your child, perhaps, just acting like a normal child of their age?
  • We’re talking about serious, scheduled drugs here – on the same level as Cocaine. You would not just give your child cocaine because someone with a white coat told you to. Please, ask questions, do some private research, question authority. There is absolutely no way that the number of kids now on Schedule 7 drugs really have a disorder. Think about it.

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

    Labelling kids – is it helping or hindering them?


    by Fatima Kazee, fulltime mum to Imaad (7), Zayn(5) and Zahreen (3), part-time wife to fisherman husband Aadil. She’s addicted to sneakers anything chocolatey &  is an invaluable part of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

    I was recently told by a professional kids’ psychologist that my son may have something called tactile defensiveness.  What this means is that he dislikes certain textures and feelings against his skin and on him.  The reason I went to a psychologist is because he refuses to eat certain foods, has a problem with the labels on his clothes and also doesn’t like getting dirty (which 6 year old doesn’t like that!)

    She suggested I take him to see an occupational therapist that will help his ‘condition’.  So my question here is:  Is all this necessary?  How come there weren’t all these things when I was growing up?  Or did our parents just let us be and grow out of stuff like that?

    Are we overdoing the labelling?

    I have met many a parent who shared stories of their kid having some or other issue, be it low concentration, emotional developmental problems, or muscle tone problems (what is that?).  It’s usually something or the other.  Or else it is allergies to the strangest things, like soap and good wholesome food (seriously?)

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these things all exist and there are qualified individuals that can help with them.  I guess it could all relate to the foods we eat and the preservatives in them as well as the lifestyles we lead.  And I’m sure that there are kids that have serious problems to deal with.  But what happens to kids that have no access to the help that they require?  Kids who live their whole lives not knowing that they actually had some or other condition and manage to live their lives quite fine?

    Credit: Pinterest

    Credit: Pinterest

    This brought me to thinking about whether we just feel the need to label everything into a disorder and find a solution to it.  Not a solution that’s logical and simple and costs nothing but one where we have to spend time and money to feel that we’re actually doing something to correct the condition.

    Maybe we have something to do with it

    I also realised that perhaps my being pedantic and OCD (yes, I have that condition!) may have had something to do with it.  I  didn’t, for example,  allow my kids to eat by themselves or explore the garden for fear of the mess and having to clean it up. Since they never touched their food on their own and experienced the different textures, maybe this made them dislike it when they eventually did.  Maybe all they need is to simply be left to discover things for themselves.

    Where to from here?

    This of course solely relates to my situation and the condition I find my son in.  Does all this affect kids in the long run?  Will they grow up to be pedantic like me or will they be well-rounded individuals, even without any medical/therapeutic intervention?  Should I just change my mothering habits and skills?

    I have not yet decided what to do but I have noticed a change in my son since I’ve lightened up and given him space to just be.  What do you think?

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids

    Healthy eating – my journey to change.

    By Zaheer Khan, a specialisin technology related security, an idealist but most of all indulges with computers, apps and new phoneswhen not running around with his Light Saber and his kids through the parks of JoBurg

    I was fortunate enough to recently attend a workshop that literally changed my life.

    The program was organized by ADHASA the Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support group for Southern Africa.

    Speaker after speaker explored and demystified the issues surrounding a condition often incorrectly only linked to young children & treated with a drug called Ritalin, regarded as the only cure.

    Identifying ADD or ADHD and that it’s normal

    A range of symptoms, many of which I could relate to, were identified by Dr David Benn. These include inattention, distractibility, impulsiveness, hyperactivity, some of the lesser known symptoms are vision problems, thyroid disorder and sleep apnea.

    We were told that while these may be health conditions of their own they are also symptoms of someone suffering from the disorder, a condition that requires a full medical diagnosis by a medical professional

    Exciting for me was when Psychologist Margaret Barry listed careers that people who have ADHD can excel at. It affirmed my chosen path in IT, acknowledged as a great skill for ADHD as it allows for the immediate reaction to problems and solutions.  Other careers on the list were game rangers, fireman, police officers and air traffic controllers. It makes one realise that career choice in the right field can help people with ADHD perform extremely well.

    Identifying myths

    Lori Lea a coach took us through the different myths of ADHD and I would really encourage you to go to the website as it has a wealth of tips as well as facts about those that have the disorder.

     Eating the right food! 

    By far the most inspiring for me personally were the insights offered by ADHASA founder, Heather Picton, into how much changing one’s diet can help, in  particular replacing sugar & non-essential fatty acids with foods rich in essential fatty acids.

    I have always resisted taking drugs to help me cope with my condition because of the inevitable side-effects. So here was my chance to see if healthy eating could make a difference.

    Changing my eating habits hasn’t been easy and requires plenty of discipline,especially when it comes to staying away from msg laden crisps! I have also become more conscious about genetically modified products and their possible side effects.

    The effects in a relatively short space of time have been astounding.

    I can start feeling a difference and my need for sugary supplements to keep me stimulated almost gone.

    I highly recommend that if you think you have symptoms of the disorder seek help from ADHASA and your medical practitioner and you would be surprised what you can achieve.


    Spring, shows and parenting help

    If you haven’t discovered it yet, is the most up to date and detailed resource for parents in the Gauteng region to find what you need including events, activities, venues, parties and lessons. You’ll also find us on your cell phone, twitter and Facebook.

    Spring is in the air

    Spring Rose Care Ludwig’s Rose Farm, Pta North, Sep 9 Join us for a Finger Pruning Demo Free at 11 am

    Spring into fitness –Ladybird Corner at Linksfield Hospital in Orange Grove Sep 16, 10am-1pm, R80pp Want to get into Shape for spring? Ashley Galliard, fitness expert and trainer will show us how 10 minutes workout for Moms and Dads with our toddlers can have us beach ready in time for Summer


    The Sensory Intelligence Phenomenon Workshop, Kempton Park, Sep 7, 8.30-4.30pm Dr Annemarie Lombard worked in a clinical practice with children with learning difficulties and special needs for 15 years. A one-day workshop for parents, teachers and therapists filled with insights and strategies to understand the attention and behavioural issues in children


    Imagine at Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein, Sep 4-13. Ilan Smith, illusionist, master of intrigue invites you to his world of make believeAn evening of wonder and illusion with a South African feel and twists of the mind to baffle and bemuse.

    South African Tattoo 2012, Montecasino, Fourways, Sep 6-9. This year’s Tattoo presents a new, never seen before, combination of South African and International acts. Join the over 600 strong cast in celebrating our modern South African culture with 2 surprise International Acts.We welcome back the ever popular Highland Dancers as well as the stirring sounds of the Massed Pipes and Drums.

    South African Mzansi Ballet’s Nutcracker Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein, Sep 6-16 Set to Tchaikovsky’s radiant, diamond-dusted score – for many, the most magical music ever written for ballet – The Nutcracker tells of a girl called Clara who receives a nutcracker soldier for Christmas. She dreams her nutcracker turns into a handsome prince, leading her to strange and wonderful places. Half price tickets for 4-7yr olds

    Helping hyper active children

    by Pauline Mulkerrins,a Chicago Original living right here in Johannesburg. She’s been living and working with children for the past 15 years, specializing in behavior issues. Currently, she runs a centre for children with language and cognitive delays and in her spare time, does as many crafts as humanly possible.

    ADHD, ADD, diet, lack of stimulation and sometimes, well, just plain old personality are all ways to describe someone who is hyper active. Parents everywhere struggle with this behavior, not only to discipline but to understand it. A person with hyper activity means they have problems paying attention, sitting still, and keeping quiet. In most cases children with hyper active tendencies are also very clever, bright, emotional children who are very empathetic (have the ability to read emotions and feel them) and caring.

    Parents, siblings, teachers and professionals may have issues with getting through daily activities, as they expect all children to “get with the program.” We have very busy lives, and it is important for everyone to get through the day with minimum stress. To help our children with hyper activity, here are a few tips to “set up for success!”

    Anxiety is the biggest issue when it comes to hyper activity, as this lends to a feeling of loss of control for our clever children, and can cause issues with the most mundane day to day activities. Saying “DON’T DO THAT!” isn’t productive, and raises everyone’s stress levels, whereas saying “this is what I need you to do…” is much better BEFORE the fact. Routines take away any “guess work” children have to do and often makes them feel safer. Although they may be resistant at first, sticking with it not only teaches your child that you have control, but also teaches them what is next, and removes a lot of anxiety. In the morning, homework time, bed time, after school time, etc. are instances of when we can set up “routines.”

    Visual schedules work very well for 3-5 year olds. Take a picture of each step of the morning routine, but make sure it’s only 4-5 steps long and create a visual “to do” list. Brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, putting shoes and school bag on is a good example. When the child has finished an activity, give them a chance to see they are “done.” This not only lets them know what is expected and how to keep on track, but it also gives them a sense of accomplishment.

    Sensory toys are good to keep busy hands going. Stress balls, or little maze or puzzle games can give kids something to “do.” In the car, in the shops, waiting for appointments or at restaurants. A lot of children can focus and calm themselves better when their hands are busy.

    Children with hyper activity can benefit greatly from routines, goals, systems, etc. Parents who put these into place will find they have a happier child who feels safer and more in control. As with any family, discipline is going to be an issue, and 123 Magic! can help with that. Please feel free to contact me if you need any assistance, and our workshops will appear on the Jozikids calendar and newsletter. I’m here if you need me

    Your child’s ADHD, schools and teachers

    Angel Conradie loves her cellphone, camera and notebook; has 8 tattoos, 5 cats, 2 dogs and an ADHD son. She believes she is married to the most wonderful man, bakes for a living as The Cupcake Lady and blogs as Angel’s Mind.

    Finding a school where your ADHD child will be successful depends largely on your child. Many ADHDers are capable of coping in a mainstream school if their treatment is successfully managed. Some ADHDers though, manage far better in a small, specialised school. If you are looking for a school like this, check that they are registered with the department of education and don’t assume that small classes and individual attention automatically mean they are equipped to help a child with ADHD and LD.

    Once you find a school, the first thing to do is tell your child’s teacher he or she has been officially diagnosed with ADHD. So often we as parents don’t tell our ADHDers teacher about his or her diagnosis and treatment because we want to “see if she notices anything” first. Not telling your child’s teacher to try and prove a point, or to avoid the school “labelling” your child means that your ADHDer doesn’t benefit from concessions they are entitled to- like extra time in tests and exams- from day one!! And it’s unfair to the child and the teacher to expect them to fumble through several weeks of drama before telling the school what’s up. If your child was diabetic or asthmatic, not telling the school would not even occur to you! And it has been proven that children with ADHD have a worse quality of life than asthmatic children!

    If the school knows early on that your child- who is most likely just one of several special needs children in his class- is neurologically-atypical, his teachers will be able to focus on him from day one. When it comes to special needs children, teachers need the parents’ help. They are a part of your treatment team and are often the first people to pick up that something is wrong.

    The important thing to remember is that you want the teachers on your side, and you want them to know that when you enter their classroom you are respectful of their training AND you are your child’s advocate. It’s a tricky line to walk but if you prepare for meetings it is possible. Make notes before you go to the school, and take a notebook with you to meetings. Give the teacher a copy of your notes afterwards so you have something to follow up on when next you meet. And taking minutes in your parent-teacher meetings is immensely (and surprisingly) empowering! Give out your email address and contact numbers and stress that you are open to communication from the teacher.

    And of course, speaking to the school from early on means you can ask for things like:

  • Emailing homework assignments to you.
  • Not writing letters to you in your child’s homework diary.
  • Allowing your child to do the running around and board cleaning and book collecting, aiding in getting rid of some of his hyperactive fidgeting and making him feel useful and important.
  • The teacher’s contact details!
  • Be open to communication from the school and keep calm!

    Hyperactivity and kids parties

    by Angel Conradie ,  loves her  cellphone,  camera and  notebook. Has 8 tattoos, 5 cats and 2 dogs and an ADHD son,  believes she is married to the most wonderful man, bakes for a living  as The Cupcake Lady and blogs as Angel’s Mind

    Up until my son was about 13 years old, I absolutely dreaded receiving invitations for him to attend a classmate’s birthday party.

    Let’s face it, kids parties can be a veritable minefield of pseudo-politics and who-is-cooler-than-who. I was not much into mingling with people I didn’t already know though, so none of that worried me. What I worried about was leaving my ADHD son at a party, not so much as unsupervised as unprotected!

    At one point after my son’s ADHD diagnosis and before we started medication we were trying a form of an exclusionary diet- no sugar, caffeine, colourants, trans-fats or preservatives, lots of green vegetables, lots of added vitamins and fish oils… Apart from the fact that my son was never a big eater and this diet made our lives miserable, it also meant that there was nothing he was “allowed” to eat if he went to a party. I eventually adopted the “everything in moderation” approach to food, but in that time often turned down invitations rather than have to lecture my son on what he could or couldn’t eat.

    The thing is though, whilst the myth prevails that sugar makes kids hyperactive, countless studies have been done to show that this is in fact not the case. If there’s anything that can and does affect some children’s level of hyperactivity and attention it’s the artificial colourants and sweeteners! And the setting of a party with entertainment and noise laid on is going to give any child the impression is that- for the time being- excitement is not only okay but expected. Can you imagine little Johnny’s mom’s disappointment if the kids at her son’s party behaved the way they are expected to do in a classroom situation?!?

    That aside, my son was painted with the naughty brush very early in his school career and I found- to my dismay- that he was being watched like a hawk, by parents and children alike, for the slightest sign of aberrant behaviour! Never mind the fact that he was at a kids party and surrounded by colour, noise, other excited children and all kinds of entertainment, he was not allowed to get excited or run or shout. If he did so, then he was hopped up on sugar and “obviously” hyperactive and out of control. It broke my heart that my son was the one expected to be calm and compliant no matter the surroundings.

    I implore you and I challenge you as adults- whether you have children or not- that when you are next hosting or attending parties for children, you keep the setting in mind before you brand any child with the hyperactive label. When they’re at a party, you want them to be happy. You want them squealing with excitement at the petting zoo. You want them gasping at a magic act and volunteering to be disappeared. You want them laughing on a jumping castle.

    A party just wouldn’t be the same without all the giggling and excitement now would it!?

    Food and ADHD

    provided by Matthew Ballenden, dad to Isabella & owner of the Fresh Earth Food Store, an organic health store and vegetarian restaurant with a  great online store.  Visit their website to find out more.

    Good nutrition can play a complementary role in a child’s treatment. When a child’s diet is balanced and healthy, his (or her) ADHD symptoms may be a little better controlled. Studies show that children with healthier diets tend to behave and perform better at school. Chances are that these desired effects extend to the home as well.

    We suggest parents offer their children a variety of foods from as many food groups as possible at each meal or snack. By doing this, your child is more likely to get a better balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats—all of which the body burns at different rates.

    Hunger surges can also create problems. A child who is hungry is apt to have more difficulty maintaining his concentration, frustrate more easily, and can become more irritable. Eating at regular intervals throughout the day helps keep tummies from growling and feeling empty.

    Skipping meals and snacks may also produce low blood sugar levels. As a result, children are more likely to be cranky and moody. Foods that are especially high in processed sugars may spike blood sugar levels. Spikes in blood sugar may result in energy bursts and more active behaviors. Soon after the spike, blood sugar levels often fall resulting in sleepy, cranky, moodiness. This is sometimes referred to as the “spike and crash syndrome.”

    A small percentage of children with ADHD have sensitivities to certain foods or food additives, such as colourings or preservatives. Eliminating these substances from the diet may improve the ADHD behaviours; however, before indiscriminately eliminating multiple foods, be sure to discuss any dietary changes with a physician and/or nutritionist. If your child eats a fairly good diet but could use some improvement, ask your homeopath about using a multi-vitamin supplement while you work on his/her nutrition.

    Whilst it is usually thought of as a condition that affects children, there are also a significant number of adults who continue to show symptoms of ADHD. Diagnosis is usually by a doctor or educational psychologist. Teachers and parents are often the first people to notice symptoms.

    ADHD is generally characterized by an inability to pay attention, being hyperactive and acting on impulse without thought for danger or consequences. Other symptoms may include:

  • Leaving projects or work unfinished
  • Fidgeting
  • Inability to sit still
  • Unable to follow instructions
  • Being clumsy or accident prone
  • Not responding to discipline or rules or behaviour
  • Irritability
  • Reckless and unpredictable behaviour
  • The causes are uncertain, but there are likely to be chemical imbalances in the brain. Other contributory factors include diets high in sugar, food additives or stimulants, nutrient deficiencies, cigarette and alcohol exposure, maternal smoking during pregnancy, low birth weight, food intolerances and lack of Essential fats. The following dietary measures may help:

  • Avoid sugar – cakes, biscuits, sweets, fizzy drinks etc.
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates – white bread, white rice, white pasta, white flour etc.
  • Avoid artificial additives – sweeteners, colourings, flavourings, preservatives.
  • Eat small regular meals and snacks – to keep blood sugar levels stable.
  • Avoid foods to which you may be intolerant – wheat, dairy, chocolate and additives are common culprits in children. MSG, oranges, soya, peanuts, corn, yeast and eggs are also worth considering.
  • Include sources of Essential fats in the diet – oily fish, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and avocadoes.
  • Read other article on the Fresh Earth website