ADHD and Sleep: How To Calm A Child With ADHD

ADHD and Sleep 

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How to calm a child with ADHD – As frustrating as it may be to see your child upset, the experience is usually much worse for them. Two of the primary symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity and impulsive reaction to stimulation. This makes it harder for children with ADHD to manage situations that would only seem like small inconveniences to children without the disorder. For this reason, you need to learn how to calm a child with ADHD using patience and a structured approach, not threats and yelling. 

ADHD can cause mild outbursts to extreme meltdowns in children [1]. When children with this disorder experience emotional and physical discomfort, they may lose their control quickly. However, there are several approaches to calming a child with ADHD and teach them better self-discipline. These approaches have been tested in a lab and longterm case studies. 

Here are some of the proven methods to successfully calm a child with ADHD. 

Practice positive reactions

When your child starts to act out, especially in public, your first reaction may not be positive. And that’s a normal, human expression of frustration or even embarrassment. However, at that moment, they don’t need an angry parent or caregiver. They need someone who understands their frustration and is willing to work with them to overcome it. In simple words, you need to stay calm and positive. 

A study published in the Clinical Psychology Science journal [2] shows that calm parents raise calm children regardless of ADHD. In this study, as parents improved their ability to regulate their emotions and show positive responses, the children also began to demonstrate improvement in their behavior. Actions as simple as praising a child, hugging them, commenting descriptively, working with them to solve a problem, and showing general positive physicality can make a world of difference. 

Create routines and expectations 

Children with ADHD often lack that internal structure that should tell them when they need to get out of bed, are hungry, sleepy, or in need of a play partner. As their caregiver, you should establish a clear (but flexible) routine for them to follow. Create a schedule for their morning, after school, and bedtime activities. It’s important to keep these routines simple so your child can navigate them easily day after day. 

Don’t expect these routines to take root easily. You’re trying to build habits in a child that struggles with self-discipline and control. This type of improvement will take some time. However, the data shows that this approach is worth the time and effort [3]. When your child learns to focus on a specific task at a time, it’s easier to keep them calm enough to get through challenges. 

Allow them to fidget 

The primary symptoms of ADHD will be present, regardless of how much groundwork you’ve covered. Allow your child to execute tasks in a way that works for them. If they fidget around with their homework but still complete it every day, allow for it. Don’t expect them to suddenly lose all signs of ADHD. Instead, support their attempts to work around these symptoms. Fidgeting is fine as long as they can always bring their attention back to what is important. 

Adhere to their doctor’s recommendations 

Every child is different, which means they often need slightly different treatments or coping methods. Follow the recommendations given to you by your child’s psychologist to improve your child’s symptoms. If you have concerns with their direction, it’s better to ask questions than completely ignore that aspect of their treatment. Once you decide on the best treatment for your child, make the best effort to be consistent for the best possible results. 

Try melatonin supplements

Melatonin is the hormone responsible for telling our bodies when it’s time for sleep. However, the development of melatonin is delayed in the ADHD brain. This contributes to the lack of sleep that many children with this disorder experience. When children lose sleep, it affects their ability to work through problems calmly, making meltdowns a common occurrence. If this sounds familiar, then you may be interested in how melatonin and ADHD interact. 

Melatonin supplements have been proven to be both safe and effective in improving sleep cycles for children with ADHD. In one study [4], melatonin did not just improve the length of sleep for children, it also reduced sleep disturbance. 

Introduce passionflower to their diet

Passiflora incarnata, or passionflower, is a perennial wildflower with some interesting health value. In the hospital, passionflower is administered to patients before their surgery to reduce anxiety without inducing sedation [5]. At home, passionflower supplements can be used to manage anxiety, ADHD, and as a sleep aid. 

Passionflower for ADHD has been proven as safe and effective in children [6]. However, if your child is on medication, consult your doctor to ensure that their medication and the passionflower supplements can be used together. 


Managing ADHD can be a challenging journey for both adults and their children. But with the right practices and a positive attitude, both parties can achieve a calm approach to everyday challenges. Helpful supplements such as melatonin and passionflower will also work to give your physical actions the chemical support they need for the best results. 


[1] Felt, Barbara & Biermann, Bernard & Christner, Jennifer & Kochhar, Param & Harrison, Richard. (2014). Diagnosis and Management of ADHD in Children. American family physician. 90. 456-64.

[2] Ziv Bell, Tiffany Shader, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, M. Jamila Reid, Theodore P. Beauchaine. (2018). Improvements in Negative Parenting Mediate Changes in Children’s Autonomic Responding Following a Preschool Intervention for ADHD.

[3] Pfiffner, Linda J, and Lauren M Haack. “Behavior management for school-aged children with ADHD.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 23,4 (2014): 731-46. DOI:10.1016/j.chc.2014.05.014.

[4] Mohammadi, Mohammad Reza et al. “Melatonin effects in methylphenidate treated children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomized double-blind clinical trial.” Iranian journal of psychiatry vol. 7,2 (2012): 87-92. 

[5] Movafegh, Ali, MD; Alizadeh, Reza, MD; Hajimohamadi, Fatimah, MD; Esfehani, Fatimah, MD; Nejatfar, Mohmad, MD. (2008). Preoperative Oral Passiflora Incarnata Reduces Anxiety in Ambulatory Surgery Patients: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study, Volume 106 – Issue 6 – p 1728-1732. DOI: 10.1213/ane.0b013e318172c3f9.

[6] Shahin Akhondzadeh, MR Mohammadi & F Momeni. (2005). Passiflora incarnata in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents..