Did you know that our ADHD kiddos have higher rates of coexisting conditions like anxiety and depression? Some studies indicate that nearly 35% of ADHD patients also have anxiety disorders, while 10-30% of children with ADHD experience depression and other mood disorders. And, studies have shown us that teens and young adults with depression are at a much greater likelihood of committing suicide than their peers.
But I don’t have to tell you that, do I? You already know it. You can feel your son’s perpetual down mood through the negative words he uses, the insults he slings at others, or his unwillingness to try new things.
You can sense there is something more to your daughters’ ADHD by her explosions over something so small, her inability to make friends, or her incessant concern with not standing out from the crowd.
But how can we as parents, help? I’m sure you’re doing tons of things, spending an incredible amount of time and a small (or maybe large) fortune on your child’s mental health already.
So for today I’m going to introduce you to a tool that – on the surface – may appear trivial – but I assure you that it is not.
In fact, studies have shown that over time, this tool can be as effective as antidepressants or antianxiety medications. Plus, it’s super convenient, enjoyable for the whole family and FREE!
You can’t get a better tool than that!
It is a tool used for centuries by every culture known to man in one form or another… it’s music!
Science is Clear: Music Makes Us Happy
Multiple studies have shown that when people listen to upbeat music regularly in short(ish) intervals, their moods improve. The short-term effects of this mood-shift are immediate. The long-term effects can happen in just 2 weeks.
Two weeks of listening to positive music for 15 minutes a day and you can start seeing long-term positive changes in my kids’ moods?? SIGN ME UP, right?!
Some studies like this one published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, suggest that if we focus on entering a positive mindset while listening to music for just 12 minutes, you can reverse your mood.
Other studies have have also discovered that that music therapy – the use of music in personal exploration – reduces the prevalence and strength of mood disorders.
A study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry also found that people with neurological conditions and brain chemistry imbalances were the most affected by music’s power.
Why Would Music Work for My Child With ADHD?
Basically, music is found to improve three dimensions of a person’s mood and executive function that most of our children struggle with due to their ADHD:
- Social relatedness
- Arousal and mood regulation
By listening to positive, upbeat music, researchers and clinicians – and anybody who has ever danced to music before – have found that you can strengthen your self-esteem and your relationships, and you can even reverse your mood.
Music is essentially a no-risk therapeutic treatment for the anxiety and depression that makes ADHD symptoms more extreme so frequently.
There are two simple rules for success:
- Music needs to be used and consumed regularly, and
- The music must convey a positive message.
Play Positive Music & Play It Loud
Thanks to all the wonderful technology we have available to us now, we have access to music basically anywhere and at any time. All kinds of music, too! But if you’re wondering how to incorporate more music into your kiddos’ lives, you can play music:
- When they’re getting ready in the morning
- During breakfast
- On the drive to school or activities
- While you cook and eat dinner
- During homework time to encourage focus
- While engaged in quiet time
- During family dance parties (yes, even Dad can participate)
Just download a happy playlist of your favorite songs or songs you’ve stumbled across on to your phone, tablet, or computer. You can even use the good old radio or your cable’s music stations.
We have even been known to load up one of my old iPod Mini or iPod Shuffle with happy songs and offer it to my son as a reward for sustained positive behavior toward a goal. He loved it and I got to make use of something that was just laying around collecting dust!
If you’re thinking that positive, clean music is hard to find, you’re not wrong. But you’re also in luck. I gathered up a short playlist of songs that are clean and upbeat. My kids love it, I hope yours do, too!
Listen to music as a family, make dance parties a frequent phenomenon, and have car sing-alongs. Your kid may occasionally (or always) roll their eyes at you, but the positive energy that is promoted by the music will break through the funk – whether they admit it or not!
And don’t worry if it doesn’t work right away. This can take time. And for some reason, bad moods are stubborn. Even though they cause your child so much pain, they just hate to let go of them sometimes.
Don’t be dorky-dancing-mom if your child is only going to resist. Start more nuanced. In the car or in the background while you’re cooking dinner. Over time it will make a difference.
Bringing your child’s attention to a mood-boosting tool like music will not only improve your relationship with one another, but it will also give him or her the chance to reverse their own mood next time they feel down. They can play their “happy playlist” by themselves, with headphones on, or when they need to cool off.
Grab your Honestly ADHD Happy Mood Playlist right now and let us know in the comments below how it goes for you tonight!