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Q. My 12-year-old has ADD and has been doing fine on medication, but he still loses stuff and spaces out a lot. I'm exhausted!
A. It's great that the meds are working, but they aren't a cure-all. Kids with ADD also need practical ways to cope, starting with a predictable daily routine, says Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., coauthor of Superparenting for Kids with ADD (Ballantine). Ideally, they'll also get two to three hours of exercise a day. In fact, physical activity is so important, says Dr. Hallowell, that access to recess or sports should never be denied. Getting enough sleep must be a priority, and make sure your child doesn't eat a lot of sweets, which in general can make the mind sluggish.
Also have him try meditation, says Dr. Hallowell. New research, while not ADD-specific, is promising. "Second- and third-graders given mindfulness practice seemed more organized and were better able to stick to tasks than kids not given the program," says Susan L. Smalley, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at UCLA. "Kids who listened to a guided meditation for two minutes before they began their work, and who stopped regularly to notice their breath, were able to calm down and do a better job." Download free recorded meditations from Smalley's Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at marc.ucla.edu or order the CD Still Quiet Place: Mindfulness for Teens, $15.95, from stillquietplace.com. If meditation isn't your kid's thing, adds Smalley, try yoga or martial arts.