I’m sure you know the basics: water is an essential part of good health and we’re encouraged to drink eight 8-0z glasses a day. We all associate water with physical health, but did you also know that water is a critical component of mental health? A researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology recently published an analysis of 33 different studies looking at water and mental health. The findings? Overall, in studies where participants were asked to complete tasks when dehydrated, they made 12% more errors that when not dehydrated.
“People who are mildly dehydrated really don’t do as well on tasks that require complex processing or on tasks that require a lot of their attention,” according to study author Mindy Millard-Stafford. Mildly dehydrated. That’s just 1.5 – 2% dehydrated, according to the researchers – a level so mild that we wouldn’t even feel thirsty yet.
What does this mean for a child with ADHD? While researchers haven’t specifically studied the impact of hydration on the ability to focus or complete complex cognitive tasks in kids with ADHD, the fact ADHD causes weaknesses in these specific areas of cognitive functioning suggests that staying hydrated could be even more important when a child has ADHD. In addition, for kids with ADHD who are already struggling to keep up with their peers academically, a 12% drop in performance from mild dehydration could mean the difference between passing and failing or grasping a new concept quickly or falling behind the rest of the class.
So, as the new school year begins, commit to helping your child stay hydrated to help fuel his or her mental performance. When it comes to drinking water, kids with ADHD are likely to fall into two categories at any time throughout the day. First, when they are at school or doing homework, kids with ADHD may ask for a drink of water repeatedly as a procrastination strategy, a reason to “escape” a boring activity, or an excuse to get out of their seat and move around. In this situation, parents and teachers are quick to deny that trip to the faucet or drinking fountain. Alternatively, if they are engaged in activity they enjoy, they may be so busy or hyperfocused that they forget to drink any water for hours on end. As a result, getting a child with ADHD to drink water consistently throughout the day can be a challenge.
Here are 8 ideas to get you started:
It takes a few weeks to develop new habits but following just a few of these tips will help your child get off to a great start!
Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.
Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.
This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.