Ecoplay for ADHD

Outdoor play has been demonstrated to be effective in treating a wide variety of disorders and behavioral issues. One of the most effective applications of outdoor play lies in the treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Later this year, the Mindful Ecotherapy Center will be releasing our eight-week Ecoplay program. Ecoplay teaches parents how to use the healing powers of mindfulness and ecotherapy to benefit their children and themselves. One of the ways that Ecoplay might benefit your family is through the use of Ecoplay for ADHD.

Parents of children under the age of six are justifiably concerned about administering ADHD medications to children that young. Per new clinical guidelines for the treatment of ADHD, updated in 2019 by the American Pediatrics Association, Parent Training & Behavior Management (PTBM) is recommended rather than medication for children under six.

PTBM is also recommended in conjunction with medication for children over the age of six who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Ecoplay for ADHD is a type of Parent Training and Behavior Management (PTBM) in that the tools of Ecoplay teach parents how to model behavior for their children while setting effective limits with the child in an outdoor, natural environment. This means that the upcoming Ecoplay program can help you and your child manage the symptoms of ADHD while playing outdoors.

Benefits of Ecoplay for ADHD

Kuo and Taylor (2004) demonstrated that, “…green outdoor activities reduced symptoms significantly more than did activities conducted in other settings, even when activities were matched across settings. Findings were consistent across age, gender, and income groups; community types; geographic regions; and diagnoses. Green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children across a wide range of individual, residential, and case characteristics.”

According to their study, the “greener” the activity, the better the results. In other words, walking on a hiking trail yielded better results than walking on a playground, and walking on a playground yielded better results than walking through a suburb. And playing outside was definitely a better option than playing inside.

One possible contributor to the benefits of spending time outdoors might be the increased opportunity for physical exercise. In general, the more aerobic the exercise, the greater the benefits to children with ADHD.

According Harwood et al (2019), “…although all behavioral interventions designed to aid ADHD seem to have a positive effect on cognitive symptomology, physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise that included targeting executive functions, appears to be the most effective.”

The eight-week Ecoplay program to be released by the Mindful Ecotherapy Center later this year joins the benefits of mindful parenting with ecotherapy to help you and your children reap the benefits of the healing power of nature. Ecoplay for ADHD could be one of those benefits.

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Kuo, Frances E., and Taylor, Andrea Faber (2004). A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study (Am J Public Health. 2004;94:1580–1586)

Lambez B, Harwood-Gross A, Golumbic EZ, Rassovsky Y. Non-pharmacological interventions for cognitive difficulties in ADHD: a systematic review and meta-analysis [published online October 9, 2019]. J Psychiatr Res. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.10.007