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Help for Kids with ADHD: Meditation, Deep Breathing and Positive Imagery

Posted by Dr. Robert Myers, PhD

Recently, meditation has been featured in Newsweek as a way to help kids to calm down and focus.

For years it was thought that each of us was born with a generous supply of brain cells, but that we were unable to produce additional cells or make changes in how they function. Fairly recently, neuroscientists discovered the presence of something called “neuroplasticity” which enables the brain to actually grow additional cells or modify the function of existing cells. Amazingly, cognitive exercises have been found to produce desired changes in not only how the brain works, but how it looks. What this means for parents is that you now have the ability to work with your child to help improve their ADHD symptoms. Combining simple relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing with positive visual imagery, helps the brain to improve or learn new skills. For instance, research shows that if a person mentally practices playing the piano, the brain actually records the imaginary trials the same as if they were real trials which leads to improvement when actually playing. So ADHD kids can “imagine” that they’re paying attention in class or able to handle teasing, and this can in turn change their behavior at school. Deep breathing exercises are also very effective for ADHD kids. Have them practice deep breathing and imagery to help them relax while imagining keeping under control in a situation where they would normally not be able to do so. Praise your ADHD child as he or she learns and practices this technique. Then, remind your child about the technique and encourage them to use it if they think they are going to get frustrated in a social setting. You might even give your child a tangible reward for the first few successes. Eventually this new habit will replace the old habit.

You and your ADHD child can use your own creativity and give this a try.


About Dr. Robert Myers, PhD

Dr Robert Myers is a child psychologist with more than 25 years of experience working with children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and learning disabilities and is the creator of the Total Focus Program®. Dr Myers is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UC Irvine School of Medicine. "Dr Bob" has provided practical information for parents as a radio talk show host and as editor of Child Development Institute's website,, which reaches 3 million parents each year. Dr. Myers earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

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