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ADHD and television in elementary age children? Should I cancel all his tv watching to help his ADHD?

So there are the studies that tv watching causes ADHD. Too late for me since he is 6 years old. He did not watch a ton of tv when he was younger but I did let him watch a couple shows a week, mostly on weekends since he was in daycare (with no tv). But no I feel guilty that I somehow caused this. We are struggling with him in school and at home. So I was reading about tv and ADHD this morning and thinking maybe I need to cut off the tv and video games. He doesn't get a lot of TV time but if I cut it out will that help the ADHD? Or is it just here to stay no matter what and nothing will help improve him? I am just feeling kinda bummed I guess that my child is not 'normal' and is struggling to act right and want to do whatever I can to help him. I wish I could say help him get better and to be like everyone else in a way but maybe that is not possible.

Anyways- will less TV improve his ADHD?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 9:23 AM on Sep. 28, 2013 in General Parenting

Answers (10)
  • Watching tv does not cause ADHD. It may make his symptoms more extreme. From what you described it sounds like he doesn't watch much tv anyways, so you may not see much of a difference, or you might if you replace tv with a physical activity. What I noticed that helped my son was going on hiking trips and just being outside in general. We love geocaching since it combined technology and the outdoors, it was a perfect fit.


    Answer by JeremysMom at 9:29 AM on Sep. 28, 2013

  • TV watching is not the CAUSE of his ADHD. The causes can be genetic & environmental, including what's in his diet. I have heard of many parents removing foods with certain dyes in them to help reduce their symptoms. Allowing time for exercise & behavior modifications will be key to keeping his symptoms in check. If you are not strongly opposed, discuss medications with his Dr. When handled correctly, you can see improvement. GL

    Answer by mrsmom110 at 10:17 AM on Sep. 28, 2013

  • You could always try a "tv vacation" where there is no tv for 2-3 weeks and watch for signs of improvement. But it's normal to have feelings of guilt when your child gets a diagnosis, I went through the same thing when my son was diagnosed with autism.

    Answer by missanc at 10:53 AM on Sep. 28, 2013

  • will less TV improve his ADHD? No.

    My son was diagnosed last year with Asperger's and ADHD. I'd known since he was 3-4 that there was something different about him. He's always been socially behind his peers by about 2 years. So, getting that diagnosis last year (he was 9), was a relief to his dad and I.

    Things that will help him focus in spite of ADHD: diet modifications (remove all red dye, feingold), behavior modification therapy (with a psychiatrist), medication (should be a last resort IMO).

    Who diagnosed your son? If his regular doctor did, and he/she is not specialized in the signs and symptoms of ADHD, I'd consider getting a referral to a psychiatrist. The problem I'm seeing with your 6 year old being diagnosed so young was that I had a hell of a time finding a therapist that would see my 8 year old. They just don't take them that young.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 12:26 PM on Sep. 28, 2013

  • Yeah, I have 2 kids, both with ADHD. One watched TV before he was 4, the other did not. They BOTH have ADHD. It does not cause ADHD, although it can make the symptoms more pronounced, as someone else said. It can also encourage that lack of attention, depending on what he watches - a marathon of Spongebob where each cartoon is 10 minutes long is going to ingrain that whole "no need to pay attention" as opposed to, say, a 2 hour special on sharks on the Discovery channel.

    You can cut back and see if it helps his symptoms. But it won't cure it, it didn't cause it, and it won't be something that will likely improve it enough all by itself.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 12:37 PM on Sep. 28, 2013

  • Watching television does NOT cause ADHD. As already mentioned, the causes are generally genetic (as in my dd's case, since I have it too), or environmental. Cutting down on tv time and getting him out and active will help spend some of the extra energy he might have. Changing diet could help. Finding a sport or activity that really interests him will help him focus. Although I personally believe that meds shouldn't be used before age 10, it is always something you can talk to your doctor about.

    If he is struggling in school, then maybe he needs an IEP. My dd has had one since 1st grade. You have to be an advocate for your child. There is no quick fix, and no one thing will make it go away. You have always actively be looking at ways you can help him. And those things can change over time.

    Answer by anime_mom619 at 12:39 PM on Sep. 28, 2013

  • Btw... your child is perfectly normal... for him. The idea that a child is not "normal" just because they have ADHD or because they have a learning disability, etc. is ridiculous. I would never want my dd to be like everyone else. If she was, then she wouldn't be herself, and that would make me sad.

    Answer by anime_mom619 at 12:42 PM on Sep. 28, 2013

  • My grandson has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. He has tried several medications, and they have found the right medication for him. He is doing much better in school and was recently voted to represent his class in studnt coucil meetings. My gradnson will be turning nine and is in the third grade. His mother ( which is my daughter) teaches at the school, which he attends and she has to fight for her son, concerning his education. The reason I have told you all of this is for a reason. First you should not blame yourself, as a mother we try and do what we think is best for our children. I am sure as a child you watched TV, we all have. I have not found any research to back up the theory that TV has anything to do with ADHD, there is however some research that has been done regarding what we may drink and eat. Try and talk calmly and explain to your child you will do your best to help him with what is bothering him.

    Answer by shorter at 1:23 PM on Sep. 28, 2013

  • Honestly, it doesn't sound like your son is a TV junkie or anything. If he watched a ton of TV shows, it might be worth worrying about. But I'd worry that if you cut off electronics completely, you'll make them into forbidden fruit, and end up with a bigger battle on your hands for little or no improvement of symptoms. Oh, and one other thing--no guilt. It serves no purpose except to suck out your energy. Do the best you can for your son, and that has to be good enough, period.

    Answer by Ballad at 1:47 PM on Sep. 28, 2013

  • Watching TV sometimes negatively affects my kids (who are not diagnosed with ADHD nor do they show symptoms.) They can have more difficulty regulating their emotions. Passive or very scripted activities differ a great deal from the kind of emergent free play that is open-ended, creative & child-directed.
    If my kids are a little disconnected, or are carrying some of the kinds of feelings that tend to drive off-track behavior, then watching TV can exacerbate that situation so their emotional state (disconnected & dysregulated) is more obvious afterward!
    I try to pay attention to my own regulation at those times, so that my response to the crabby or explosive child is optimal & helps the situation immediately.
    Canadian physician Gabor Mate (who, along with his 3 kids, has ADD) wrote a book about attention deficit disorder & some of what he wrote in the parenting portion is all about that (parents staying regulated vs. reactive.)

    Answer by girlwithC at 4:33 PM on Sep. 28, 2013

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