Recently a very interesting pilot study was completed in Sweden. Researchers investigated the effects of dance therapy in two very different groups of children, young ADHD boys and depressed teenage girls.

The four year study was carried out at the Clinic for Child and Youth Psychiatry in Karlstad and was completed in 2005. The project, which was a collaborative effort involving the University College of Dance in Stockholm, the Department of Public Health Science at Karlstad University, and the Clinic for Child and Youth Psychiatry in Karlstad, involved children living in the province of Varmland, Sweden.

The ADHD Study

There were six boys in the ADHD study age 5-7. These children were considered hyperactive and unruly by their teachers and parents.

The therapy started with the children moving with all their energy. Then new components were added where the children needed to listen and mimic, play to music, play roles, and then perform slower and slower motions.

The results of the study in the ADHD boys were quite striking. The most dramatic effect of the dance therapy was that the boys calmed down. Their parents and teachers reported that they did their schoolwork better. One boy who could only sit in a classroom for ten minutes previously, after receiving dance therapy was able to attend an entire lesson.

These six boys also showed improvement in social skills. The boys were better able to play with other children without getting into conflict and fights.

It may seem surprising to encourage increased activity and movement for boys whose basic problem is that they move too much and have difficulty remaining calm. However, this initial study seems to indicate that dance therapy works.

The Depression Study

Adolescent depression, particularly bipolar depression is a growing problem in children. Adolescent bipolar depression is extremely difficult to treat, and when left untreated can have very serious consequences.

The depression study involved eleven teenage girls age 13-17, who suffered from depression and self-destructive tendencies. This type of child is particularly difficult to treat using normal therapeutic techniques. Since these teenagers usually prefer to remain silent and not express what is disturbing them, normal conversation based therapy does not work well.

The dance therapy proved to be a good way to increase their energy level and enhance their joy of living. Certain dance styles, flamenco for example, helped give the girls an increased sense of pride and improved their self-esteem. The overall effect was that the girls were happier and the depression was alleviated.

Conclusion

The research team investigating the effects of movement therapy concluded that dance therapy showed promise in both groups of children and can be very useful when other more traditional treatments fail or are insufficient.

However, although these studies are promising, the number of children in both of these groups was very small. Therefore, no sweeping conclusions should be drawn at this time. However, the fact that many of the families wished to continue with dance therapy after the conclusion of the study indicates that at least in their minds, the treatment program was a success.


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Still much needs to be learned regarding dance as a therapeutic treatment in child and adolescent psychiatry. First of all, here is no proven explanation for why it is effective. Certainly, no one is suggesting that dance movement therapy does anything more than alleviate the symptoms of ADHD and adolescent depression.

The therapy does not address the root cause of these problems. Also, it is not clear from the study how long the effects of dance therapy last. Particularly in the ADHD group, the treatment had to be repeated often.

The success in this study suggests that movement based therapy may play a helpful role in treating certain psychiatric illnesses. It also suggests that other structured physical activity, such as sports may be an approach to helping ADHD and depressed children.


Many parents of ADHD children report that their children do much better when they participate in sports. Still as of yet, no studies have been done evaluating the role of sports involvement in ADHD children. In fact, this initial pilot study is the first attempt to investigate any form of physical activity in ADHD.

At present, dance therapy is not used as a form of treatment in child and youth psychiatry. This project was the first attempt to try and scientifically assess dance therapy as a form of treatment for ADHD and Depression.

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4 Easy Child Raising Tips

Teens misbehave because we allow them to misbehave. If your child is staying out too late then you need to change the rules and the way you enforce them.

You are the parent and you set the rules. If your teenager is breaking your rules it is either because your child thinks there are no rules or she thinks she doesn’t need to follow them.

If this is happening in your home you need to explain to your child that there are rules and that there are consequences for breaking the rules. Then you need to follow through.

Your teenager must know that good choices have good consequences and bad choices have bad consequences.

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Warmly,

    Anthony Kane, MD
      P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.

        If you would like to have a quick step-by-step plan on how to end your child's difficult behavior forever and your child is between the ages of 2 and 11:

          Please go to:

          How to Improve Your Child's Behavior

          1-Respect Your Child’s Appetite:
          Don’t force a meal on a child who isn’t hungry. Also, don’t bribe your child to get him to eat. You don’t want to make food a power struggle issue.

          2-Keep a Routine:
          Serve meals and snacks the same time every day.

          3-Don’t Expect Too Much:
          Children don’t like to try new foods. You need to introduce them slowly. Most importantly, realize that this is normal for a child not to like or want to try something new. Don’t take it personally or get upset about it.

          4-Make it Interesting:
          Cut foods into interesting shapes. Use bright colors.

          5-Involve Your Child:
          At the store, have your child help you pick out fruits and vegetables and healthy snacks. At home, have your child get involved in the food preparation.

          6-Model:
          If you eat a wide variety of foods, your child will eventually do this, also.

          7-Be Creative:
          Use interesting combinations of foods.

          8-Cut Out Distractions:
          No television, ipods or ipads at the table.

          9-Have a Designated Meal Time:
          Have your child stay at the table even if he isn’t eating.

          10-Don’t Be a Restaurant:
          Don’t prepare another meal for your child if he doesn’t like the first.

          Source:

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          Warmly,

            Anthony Kane, MD
              P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.

                If you would like to have a quick step-by-step plan on how to end your child's difficult behavior forever and your child is between the ages of 2 and 11:

                  Please go to:

                  How to Improve Your Child's Behavior

                  Our children are growing up in a different world than we did. They have cell phone, ipads, computer games, etc. We didn’t have these things growing up.

                  But even with older children and teens we must make sure that we set limits. We need to monitor the amount of time spent with gadgets, the types of computer games they play, the shows they watch, and the sites they visit.

                  There are external controls that can limit what our children see, Yet, it is better if you child learns to monitor himself.

                  Your child must respect and follow the limits you set
                  Computers need to be in public places
                  Cellphones are turned in at night to the parents

                  As your child demonstrates he’s responsible to follow the rules, you can give more independence.

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                  We teach children to value extended family by showing that we value extended family. You need to model what you want your children to do.

                  This includes being respectful. Kids need to know that even if they don’t like a certain relative, they still must be polite.

                  Parents can impress upon children the importance of extended family by creating family traditions that include the extended family members. Holiday dinners and monthly visits will impress upon your child that he has people who care about him beyond those who live at home with him.

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