I’m not sure why, maybe because it’s getting warmer outside, I’m
getting a lot of questions and stories about kids and energy. I’ll put
them all under that broad category but there have been several
different subcategories discussed: kids and ADHD, kids and anger
management, and kids and computers.

Kids and ADHD

Let’s
start with kids and ADHD. There seems to be a big trend here in the US
of drugging our children so they can “control” their behavior in
school. I am NOT in favor of this practice.

Why is there such an epidemic of ADHD diagnoses in our children? I
don’t want to oversimplify but I believe one reason is that our
children don’t have the opportunities they had in previous generations
to run around and expend their energy.

In years past, kids got to play in the parks, in the streets and in
their own yards. Today, that happens less and less. Parents are too
afraid to allow their children to be outside unsupervised, and rightly
so! There are predators out there who would do your children harm.
However, kids still need to expend their energy, somehow.

So, many times the activities available to them at home are sedentary,
such as playing video games, watching television, talking on their cell
phones or using the home computer. None of this provides opportunity to
release energy, unless your children are like my niece who paces
vigorously while talking on the phone!

Then we send them to school and expect them to sit down and be quiet.
In addition, many schools are reducing the amount of physical education
time for our kids and I’ve even seen recently that some schools forbid
children to run at recess or use certain playground equipment because
they fear a physical injury lawsuit. Is it any wonder our children are
having difficulty?

Now I know there are parents and teachers out there who have stories of
children who have been helped immensely by the addition of Ritalin,
Adderall, Concerta or Dexedrine to their daily diet. If you know a
child who is being helped by his or her medication, I’m not saying to
discontinue it but for every child who is being helped, I believe there
are at least three others who are still exhibiting all the ADHD
behavior the medication was designed to reduce.

There have been studies done on placebo medications that show that in
double blind studies, when neither the patient nor the doctor knew
whether the patient was getting the actual drug or the placebo, the
ones getting the placebo actually did better. Is it possible there is a
placebo effect with some children?

If your child displays what you or the teachers believe is an excessive
amount of energy, do your best to create situations where that child
can expend energy. I have two boys who could both have been diagnosed
with ADHD as children. They were very physical. Luckily, I lived in the
country during a time when parents sent their kids out the door to
simply “play.” I also spent a lot of my spare time running them around
to different athletic events—YMCA soccer, wrestling, flag football,
T-ball, basketball, you get the idea. This definitely helps.

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever do and the stakes are
incredibly high. We all do the best we can and hope for good results.
Fortunately, when we have good intentions are kids generally survive and
even thrive.

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