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Information for parents

Please watch the video below for more information about ADHD and the brain. 

Parents and carers may find a booklet available here helpful.  'ADHD in children and young people - A simple guide for parents and carers' explains more about ADHD in an easy to understand way as well as highlighting some key points. 

ADHD guide for parents and carers

Please use the drop down menus below for more information on exercise, diet and the importance of sleep. 

  • We have all heard that exercise is important to help keep our bodies fit and healthy and to maintain a healthy weight. It also helps with heart health, helps to keep our bones strong, as well as helping with our mental health and self-esteem.

    In addition to all these benefits, exercise and keeping fit is a key part of treatment for ADHD. Exercise can help reduce symptoms of ADHD by increasing the number of neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine. Dopamine is one of the brain chemicals that help with focus, concentration, and the ability to think more clearly. 

    For children and young people aged 5-18 the recommended amount of daily exercise is 60 minutes a day of moderate exercise.

  • Good nutrition and a healthy balanced diet is also important in ADHD. 

    We recommend eating a healthy balanced diet and we do not recommend eliminating foods. This should only be done under the care of a dietician. 

    • Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day
    • Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates
    • Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat or other protein foods
    • Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks and yoghurts)
    • Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat in small amounts
    • Eat small amounts of foods high in fat, salt and sugar and eat them less often.

    Some people may find that certain foods increase their ADHD symptoms, but everyone is different and if this is the case it is worth keeping a diary to see if there is a clear link between certain foods and ADHD behaviour. Some people need a referral to a dietician and keeping a food diary can help with the referral.

    Click here for more information about eating a healthy and balanced diet.

  • Drink plenty of fluids – the government recommends 6 to 8 cups or glasses a day. Water, lower-fat milk, and lower-sugar or sugar-free drinks all count. Fruit juice and smoothies also count towards your fluid consumption, but they contain free sugars that can damage teeth, so limit these drinks to a combined total of 150ml a day.

    Energy drinks contain high levels of sugar. They also contain high levels of caffeine - often twice the amount found in a strong cup of coffee. This can cause many health and wellbeing problems including high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, anxiety, hyperactivity, and stomach aches.

    Energy drinks do not provide any helpful vitamins and minerals so are best avoided by everyone – especially children and young people.

  • Sleep is really important, especially for those with ADHD. Not getting enough sleep can mimic the symptoms of ADHD.

    Further support is available here;

Further support

Family Action can offer additional support to parents-

National ADHD charities/ support groups;

Mental health support