The War on Childhood – Study Claims Connection Between “Overloaded” Kids and ADD/ADHD

Normal personality quirks combined with stress of “too much” can propel children into realm of disorder.

Parenting is a guilty affair; ask any of us to score ourselves on how well we think we’re doing and too many would barely give themselves a passing grade. Multiply that by exponents if Mom and Dad are divorced.

Conflicting information out there makes it difficult to discern objective measures for “good” childParenting, frustrated mother rearing or what a “good child” acts like so we know when we have one and thus, can feel good about doing good.  Add to that the “Disorder of the Week” that many parents seem Parenting boy screamingcompelled to find in their children because they’re on high alert for signs that aren’t good.

We’ve got your “good.” A good stiff drink would go down good about now.  Oy vey!

What’s the bottom line for frazzled parents?  What do they need to know, right now?
From Raised Good:

He had everything he needed and not a lot more. The only rule was to be home by dinner time. My Grandma rarely knew exactly where her kids were.

They were off building forts, making bows and arrows, collecting bruises and bloody knees and having the time of their lives.  They were immersed in childhood.

But the world has moved on since then. We’ve become more sophisticated. And entered a unique period in which, rather than struggling to provide enough parents are unable to resist providing too much. In doing so, we’re unknowingly creating an environment in which mental health issues flourish.

When I read Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting one message leapt off the page.Parenting final Normal personality quirks combined with the stress of “too much” can propel children into the realm of disorder. A child who is systematic may be pushed into obsessive behaviors. A dreamy child may lose the ability to focus.

Payne conducted a study in which he simplified the lives of children with attention deficit disorder. Within four short months 68% went from being clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional. The children also displayed a 37% increase in academic and cognitive aptitude, an effect not seen with commonly prescribed drugs like Ritalin.

Now, we’re not about to say that conditions like ADD/ADHD aren’t real. Some of us here at SamePageNation have intimate knowledge otherwise. However, it does seem like Ritalin — the most popular medication prescribed for ADD/ADHD — is overprescribed.

The article goes on to talk about the many ways we overload our kids these days, making it difficult for them to adjust.

Suffering with a “cumulative stress reaction” as a result of the snowballing effect of too much, children develop their own coping strategies to feel safe. Parents and society are conscious of the need to protect our children physically.

We legislate car seats, bike helmets and hover like helicopters in playgrounds. But protecting mental health is more obscure.

Modern day children are exposed to a constant flood of information which they can’t process or rationalize. They’re growing up faster as we put them into adult roles and increase our expectations of them. So, they look for other aspects of their life they can control.

Payne describes the four pillars of excess as:Parenting Boy Imagination Bear

  1. Having too much stuff
  2. Too many choices
  3. Too much information
  4. Too much speed

When children are overwhelmed they lose the precious down time they Parenting Girl Window Giraffeneed to explore, reflect and release tension. Too many choices erodes happiness, robbing kids of the gift of boredom which encourages creativity and self-directed learning. And most importantly “too much” steals precious time.

Our children have their whole lives to be adults and to deal with the complexities of life, but only a fleetingly short time in which they can be kids. Silly, fun loving kids.

Parenting Kids in BasketWe didn’t have to endure parent organized and supervised “play dates.”  Sounds awful. We knocked on doors until we found out who was home and could come outside. Bleeding knees and elbows were something we went inside to patch up and came right back out.  Roaming the neighborhood in sweaty, smelly packs, drinking out of the nearest neighbor’s water hose like a wild animal because your Mom is a broken record: “Stop that running in and out of the house right now! You’re wasting air conditioning!”  And that was fine; it was always risky to go in the house anyway, it might be a trap and you’d find yourself pulling weeds in the yard. Rule #1 of free range living. Stay scarce and never, ever complain you’re bored because Mom WILL find something for you to do. 

That seems like such a long time ago. It’s not.

PARENTS TAKE CHARGE

So, how do we as parents protect our kids in this new “normal” society has created?

Simple, we say no. We protect our kids and say no, so we can create space for them to be kids. No, Sam can’t make the birthday party on Saturday. No, Sophie can’t make soccer practice this week.

And we recreate regular down time providing a sense of calm and solace in their otherwise chaotic worlds. It provides a release of tension children know they can rely on and allows children to recover and grow, serving a vital purpose in child development.

We filter unnecessary busyness and simplify their lives. We don’t talk about global warming at the dinner table with a seven year old. We watch the news after our kids are asleep. We remove excessive toys and games from our toddler’s room when they’re sleeping. We recreate and honour childhood.

Our children have their whole lives to be adults and to deal with the complexities of life, but only a fleetingly short time in which they can be kids. Silly, fun loving kids.

Childhood serves a very real purpose. It’s not something to “get through.” It’s there to protect and develop young minds so they can grow into healthy and happy adults. When society messes too much with childhood, young brains react. By providing a sense of balance and actively protecting childhood we’re giving our children the greatest gift they’ll ever receive.

Editors Note:  This is a photo of my brand new hose. Yes, that’s a warning attached. “NOT FOR DRINKING WATER.”  Really?  Guess what was the first thing I did?  You would have too, no?
~ Kim Paris
Hose final  

Photo Credit:  John McLaird/flikr
Photo Credit: Angela Waye/123rf

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