As a psychologist and former school psychologist, I have followed with interest the growing number of articles and studies that suggest the diagnosis of hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder is being given too readily as is the tendency to put individuals, especially children on medication.Is it really hyperactivity when a 5-year-old boy doesn’t sit still in his seat for hours at a time? Does the elimination and/or reduction of gym or recess make it harder for some of children to concentrate? Is it so surprising that some students may not be paying attention to a boring lecture or reading books they have no interest in? Are some parents blaming their child for not listening when they may not be knowledgeable about natural ways to mange children’s behaviors effectively?
Even when there is an accurate diagnosis of hyperactivity, I have found that psychologists can help children and families manage concentration, attention and behavior issues by learning skills and receiving training in self-regulation.
My psychologist toolbox includes relaxation training, guided visualization, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, biofeedback and a host of physical and mental exercises designed to help individuals improve their attention, concentration and self control.
In many cases of attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity, psychological skills can be effectively used without reliance on medications.
Parents are taught about normal vs. abnormal developmental behaviors, effective communication skills and behavioral methods to better help their children help themselves.
As a psychologist who also works with athletes, I consult with coaches to help them in similar ways to how I work with teachers and parents.
When I work with children and adolescents I make use of technology they like and can relate to.
A video program I developed on mental conditioning (TENNISMIND) is especially helpful for training self-regulation, concentration and attention. It combines brief relaxation exercises with hypnotic suggestions. The lessons are broken down by topic and taught in 8-10 minute segments.
Increasingly popular, principles and practices from yoga are especially useful in training concentration and attention, stillness and being in the present moment. As one of a growing number of psychologists borrowing from yoga and related ancient practices, I have found them quite useful in treating and preventing numerous physical and psychological conditions.
In short, before putting a child or anyone on medication, consult a psychologist to get a proper diagnosis and to review the wide array of treatment options available to you.