Sunday, September 24, 2023

ADHD in children: Symptoms and management

ADHD in children is manageable with parental education, behavioural therapy, medicines, adequate sleep, exercise, and supplements. But one must do a proper diagnosis as many symptoms of ADHD are similar to 'kid behaviour'.

Executive Summary

Children with ADHD are often inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive. But a proper diagnosis is a must since many symptoms are similar to ‘kid behaviour’.

Depending on the age of the child, the treatment involves behavioural therapy and medicines.

Omega-3 oils: 500 mg EPA+DHA for ages below 7 years. 1,000 mg EPA+DHA for 7 years and above; Multivitamin, multimineral.

Exercise and playing sports.

Sleep: 9 to 13 hours a night, depending on the age.

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a condition in which children are not able to focus on tasks, are overly active, or act impulsively without thinking of consequences.

In fact, there are three types of ADHD in children:

  1. Attention-deficit type;
  2. Hyperactivity type; and
  3. A combination of the two.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD

A child with ADHD may forget or lose things, talk too much, make silly mistakes, can’t control temptations, take serious risks, or cannot get along with other kids, it may be suffering from ADHD.

Now, children are children. They will act like ‘kids’. So a few signs of such behaviours is not ADHD. Only if a child shows the above symptoms all the time—at home, at school, and even at play—you should suspect ADHD and seek medical help.

It is also vital you don’t brand a child to be suffering from ADHD without a medical professional making such a diagnosis. You may affect their self-image inadvertently.

To learn more about the specific symptoms in each form of ADHD, read on Mayo Clinic website: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

Nearly 60% of the children with ADHD have other medical conditions such as learning disorders, anxiety, depression, bed-wetting, substance abuse, and sleep disorders. It is a good idea to get ADHD treated properly.

Management of ADHD

Behavioural therapy and medicines are advised for the treatment of ADHD.

Behavioural Therapy

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends:

  • For children below 6 years of age: Parents be taught skills and strategies for managing the child’s behaviour;
  • For children between 6 and 12 years: Medicines and behaviour management to be taught to the parents as well as the kids;
  • For children above 12 years: Medicines and behaviour therapy for adolescents.


  • Stimulants: Most widely used. Seventy percent of the children with ADHD benefit from these but they have side effects, too;
  • Non-stimulants: Take time to act but the effect stays longer than the stimulants.

Only your doctor can and should prescribe these. You or your child should never try them without a medical prescription.

Nutrition and Supplementation

Omega-3 oils: Omega-3 oils have anti-inflammatory properties. It is suspected that inflammation may be contributing to the process of ADHD. Here is a detailed article on this website: Omega–3 oils: A complete guide. The article also explains how it is very difficult to get adequate amounts of EPA and DHA unless one uses fish oil or algal oil for omega-3 supplements.

For ADHD, some researchers advise 500 mg of EPA+DHA a day for ages below 7 years and 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA a day above the age of 7 years. Some other researchers advise 750 mg of EPA+DHA a day for all ages for 12 weeks.

In my opinion, it is not super-critical exactly how much you give to the child. Researchers advise based on the dosage they used and found to be effective in their trials. There are three things that are important, however:

  1. Continue with the medicines and behavioural therapy, even if you give omega-3 oil supplements;
  2. Don’t expect results in less than three months. Supplements work over a longer term.
  3. If the child does not have ADHD, you can still give omega-3 supplements to them. DHA is very helpful for brain development; while EPA is beneficial for behaviour and mood.

Multivitamin, multimineral: Since many individuals are deficient in one or more micronutrients that are needed for proper brain functioning, taking a multivitamin, multimineral supplement is found to be helpful in ADHD.


Regular exercise and playing sports help ADHD children. They stimulate the neurotransmitter activity that ADHD medicines try to generate. They may even help hyperactive children to ‘steam off’. However, one must ensure the child does not indulge in high-risk sports such as Parkour.


Sleep offers many benefits in ADHD if the child is sleep deprived. A 3- to 5-year-old child needs 10 to 13 hours of sleep. A 6- to 13-year-old child needs 9 to 11 hours of sleep. Note that an adult needs just 7-9 hours of sleep. So some parents make the mistake that their child is sleeping too much and depriving the child of adequate sleep.

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First published on: 22nd April 2022
Image credit: Adhd photo created by freepik –
Last updated on: 9th May 2022


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