We are a nation of movers and shakers. We brag about being multitaskers. We manage to work, get the kids to school, football practice, dance class and find time for the PTA meeting. We sync our smartphones so we know who needs to be where and what time and who is responsible for getting them there. We schedule meals, showers, homework, and social time.
In America, over 7 million children under the age of 17 take medication for ADHD. While we know there are children who have ADHD, some experts think we are rushed to judgment and label them as ADHD way too soon. Could it be that we have allowed ourselves to be a national community that does not practice focus and we lack the skills we once had to dedicate ourselves to undistracted work? If so, have we taught our children to operate on that same frequency of distraction and doing several things at once? Have we taught our children behavior that is sometimes associated with this illness?
Teaching our children and practicing what we preach
Begin by taking a good look at your child’s schedule. Are there things packed into his time that means little to him? Set priorities and remove excess activities from your lives. In essence, allow time for time.
Set an example. Teach your child the importance of doing what you are doing well. Live in the moment. When you are cooking dinner, put away the cell phone, turn off the television, and cook dinner. When you sit down to eat, do not allow anything to interrupt. No cell phones, books, headphones, or anything allowed at the table. This is when we eat our meal and connect.
Set realistic goals for your child. Do not expect a child that has been allowed to study his spelling words while he is in the bathtub and you are calling them out from your seat on the throne to suddenly be able to sit and focus on just spelling words for 45 minutes. Teach him in small time frames.
Healthy choices – consequences and rewards
Many parents make the mistake of allowing their kids to eat junk food when they are very hungry (like coming inside from swimming) and then offering healthy foods only at meal times. When a child is hungry (not bored) they will enjoy the taste of their veggie snacks or fruit bars much more. Take advantage of that time to stroke their brain with feel good – taste good options.
Of course, we all want to have special treats from time to time. Let your child help you decide. For example, instead of buying a big birthday cake and ice cream for his birthday party, suggest making treat bags. You can get information on buying candy online in bulk by clicking here. Kids are smart little people. Show them the healthier choices available. Explain that some kids cannot eat sugar, gluten products, or have nuts. Let them help you decide which candies would be best for the treat bags so everyone is happy.
Never use food (especially junk food) as a reward. You spend many hours telling your child why they do not need that. You say the sugar is bad for your teeth. You explain it makes them hyper and they do not feel good when they eat too much of it. You tell them, those choices have really bad effects on their bodies. Then they score an A on their math test or clean their room on their own and you give them a big old piece of this stuff that you say will make them sick! “Good job! Now, make yourself sick!” Of course, that is not what we think when we hand junior a chocolate bar, but the message he gets is confusing.
Take the time to teach your child healthy balance and it will stay with him for the rest of his life.