Hard blinking. Throat clearing. Face stretching. Over and over again.
Those were the main issues I discussed with my son’s ADHD care team at his last check up. I thought those tics had gone away, but upping his medication (Vyvanse) dosage from 30mgs to 40mgs brought them back with full force. And Javi’s peers were noticing.
The doc’s treatment for Javi’s tics surprised me. Simply stated, he’s to drink more water. (Crazy, right?)
Stimulant medications can cause severe dehydration, which makes children’s eyes, sinuses, and mouths dry. That, in turn, causes them to blink harder, make lots of mouth noises, and have more nose bleeds (and, yes, we’ve had those, too). A dehydrated child has a decreased ability to focus (!) and could suffer from insomnia, headaches, and/or dizziness — all prominent issues for kids like ours.
Mix medical dehydration with hard, outdoor playing during the summer and you have a recipe for disaster.
So we took the doc’s prescription to drink more water very seriously and have found many ways to keep Javi well hydrated. And guess what? The tics are subsiding. Here’s what has worked for us:
1. Watered down juice. We’re used to doing this with the toddler’s juice, but we’ve begun doing it with the entire bottle of juice. I pour a third of the juice into a separate container and stick that into the freezer. Then I fill the original bottle back up with water. He complained at first, but the mix is still juicy enough to be tasty and sweet.
2. Mix-in packets. We already had a stainless steel water bottle for Javi, but it wasn’t getting much use during the school year because he doesn’t like to drink straight water unless he’s hot and sweaty. So, I bought a box of mix-in flavors to entice him to use the water bottle. Now he fills his water bottle up and sticks it in his lunch box with one mix-in packet each night. He loves the novelty of both, and drinks up his tasty water beverage.
3. Water-laden fruits. Javi is a fruit and veggie fan, but we began choosing fruits with the highest water content — even though some of those fruits are out of season and a bit pricey. For instance, we bought watermelon, cantaloupe, and strawberries for him to have in his lunch this week. We’ve also stocked up on peaches, pears, and grapes. When we can’t buy fresh, canned or frozen will work. (We rinse the canned fruits that are packed in syrup — no need for that extra sugar!)
4. Water first at meals. Whether we’re at home or out at a restaurant, I have gotten into the habit of ordering water for the kids and myself at every meal. This both models the behavior I want and makes drinking water part of our routine. I always forget to bring mix-ins, but Javi enjoys asking for extra lemon and adding them to his glass. I’ve found that once water became the expected dinner drink, the complaints began to subside. And usually, if we’re home, I’ll put out water first and then do milk when he finishes his cup.
5. Avoiding dehydraters. Meds cause enough dehydration on their own, so we didn’t want to pile on by allowing him to have caffeinated beverages or foods/drinks high in salt and sugar. I am a strong believer in “everything in moderation,” so a treat here and there won’t hurt, but we’re careful to keep caffeine, etc out of his diet. (That means no sodas, coffees, caffeinated teas, energy drinks, etc…)
6. Reminding — a lot! Every time I hear Javi clear his throat or see him blink hard, I yell out, “go drink some water!” (I’ve said it so much that even his younger sister yells it.) And when he is having a hard time sleeping or his head hurts, a big glass of water is the first medicine we push. But he wouldn’t do it on his own. I consider it my job to remind him to (and sometimes make him) drink that water — just as I remind him to take his medicine.
Water is now the drink our kids reach for when they’re thirsty. I consider that a huge success considering we used to have a stockpile of Capri-Suns and HiCs in the pantry.
Do you struggle to keep your children hydrated? What tricks do you use to make water an appealing choice for your kids?