Monday, July 7, 2008

Focus On The Family-Who's Looking After The Kids

We live in a world that is exploding with information where everything is on the go and almost everyone is in a hurry, too much of a hurry to stop and think in which direction they are going or where they will end up. This 'go go go' attitude to life may work out for adults who can cope with high stress lifestyles but how does it affect the children of today?

In this hectic pace the only time where information stops its cacophony of sound is when we retire to bed, only then do we gain some measure of peace or are our minds still buzzing as we attempt to try and gain some much needed rest for our tired bodies and our minds? If adults find it hard to switch off then how do our children cope? If they are watching the same programmes as their parents or accessing the internet where information comes almost at the speed of light, how are they able to automatically switch off at bed time or are their brains buzzing too? So much so that sleep is elusive and they wake up in the morning still tired and stressed out even before the day truly begins. Is this the most beneficial lifestyle for today's children?

As the debate grows with the ADHD controversy where children as young as five years of age are being given mind altering drugs such as Ritalin which is a stimulant much like methamphetamine or they are being put on a program of anti-depressant drugs in order for them to deal with life. Once again is this the best we can do for our children to drug them into conformity? Do we truly want robotic children who sit in their class rooms like bombed out zombies as their individuality is negated in favour of some 'peace and quiet'. This 'illness' ADHD only seems to have been invented during these past decades, why haven't their been cases of ADHD throughout the centuries?

I remember a few months ago as I waited in the doctors waiting room a young family came in, the parents gave their mobile phone to their eldest daughter to play with while they were waiting to be seen by their Doctor. Their younger daughter then asked if she too could have a mobile, she was told no! Thus ensued a tantrum. The parents then said they wished the doctor would give their youngest daughter ADHD drugs.

Was the youngest daughter throwing things? No! Did she attack her elder sister? No! She simply began crying and insisted it wasn't fair. Common sense alone dictates if you favour one child over another, you are courting disaster.

For those who are in the 40 to 50 age bracket do you remember any child being diagnosed as ADHD when you attended school? Or were boys simply being boys and girls were girls as diversity thrived in the class rooms and where there was always the possibility that one or two children would be naturally pugnacious or irreverent towards those in authority? What has happened in these past few generations that the children who may have these very characteristics are now seen as 'ill' and in need of medication so that they will be able to fit in with all the other children. Who decided what was general normality? Or is there no such thing?

This is not to say that every parent is wrong or that teachers who are often overworked and underpaid are also at fault. What needs to be investigated is who made the decision to categorize what is normal and what is not? We also need to take a long hard look at the foods we digest and what is being put into them, so certain foods will have a longer shelf life. How are these additives affecting the children who eat or drink them? It is a time consuming ordeal but parents may need to list the foods that their children are eating and perhaps re-adjust their lifestyle choices in favour of organically grown fresh fruit and vegetables and less on the fast food, highly sugar dosed cereals and the candy industry which is filled with high doses of additives.

In today's society we are the most sedentary generation mainly due to the conveniences we now take for granted such as automatic washing machines, clothes dryers, microwaves etc. Many families have two cars so that children may now be driven to where they have to go rather than walk or ride bikes. A lot of children's angst is due to the fact that their energy levels have not been used during the day and so high energy levels will soon turn to irritability. This does not mean that a child has suddenly contracted ADHD, and therefore needs to be medicated.

Rather than rely totally on Doctors and the pharmaceutical companies who make their living from the drugs they sell, perhaps it is time for parents to embrace their child's diversity and individualism without trying to make them conform into a set image of robotic behavior based on whose theory? Only the parent can make the decision, of what is the best treatment for their child. Therefore investigate all avenues before deciding what approach to take when treating your child, it's future depends on you.

Written by Marie