Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that develops in childhood and can accompany an individual throughout life. It is characterized by the combination of symptoms of distraction, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The child becomes disorganized, impatient and excessively active and these factors promote difficulties in daily life. The relationship between parents and children boils down to conflicts, disharmony and discord that have an impact on the quality of life of the entire family.
It is important to remember that ADHD affects the child's brain area responsible for controlling impulses and filtering stimuli, that is, they have difficulty containing and controlling their behavior.
There are currently two lines of specific treatment for children with ADHD: medication and behavioral treatment. However, both have limitations: the medication works for a short period of time, and children can also experience side effects; and behavioral treatment that is focused on parental training can become problematic as the genetic load of the disorder may imply that the parent(s) themselves have the diagnosis.
Therefore, new therapies begin to appear that try to fill the gaps of other treatments. That's where Mindfulness arises. Mindfulness is a meditation and exercise technique that aims to focus attention on personal experience and the present moment.
It is defined in three key words which are: intention, lack of judgment and experience of the moments. Mindfulness techniques are intended to help practitioners calm their minds, making them more aware of the present moment and less concerned with what has already happened or what is to come.
Children and Mindfulness
The way the brain develops is part of why mindfulness can be so effective for the child: while our brains constantly develop throughout our lives, the connections in the prefrontal circuitry are created at a faster rate during childhood. Mindfulness, which promotes skills that are controlled in the prefrontal cortex, such as cognitive focus and control, may therefore have a particular impact on skill development, including self-regulation, judgment, and patience during childhood.
Children are naturally focused on the present and don't care too much about the past or future and this is an enabler for mindfulness. But these days, they are too busy with a routine full of activities and that makes them restless and distracted. By practicing mindfulness, they begin to notice their surroundings and learn that not everything in life is good and easy.
From early childhood onwards, children are able to not only practice mindfulness exercises with their parents, but also use some of the skills learned at times they feel necessary. However, to create the habit in children, practice is fundamental and should be part of the daily routine and not just used as a resource for stressful moments.
The goal of practicing mindfulness with children is to develop and strengthen their ability to pay attention to their own internal and external experiences in their daily lives. With practice, children learn to see how they act and react to everyday situations and to understand how they interact with others, setting boundaries and managing conflicts more appropriately.
The practice of mindfulness in ADHD leads to improvements in communication, imitative behavior, tolerance for physical proximity, self-control, quality of life, social response, social cognition, and social motivation. It also has an impact on reducing aggressive behavior, irritability, lethargy, social refusal and disobedience.