The other day, a friend told me that her child has been detected with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and that she has booked an appointment with the psychiatrist. We discussed how these days every second child comes up with some issue or the other, and requires professional help. Otherwise, how come such things were never important some 30 years back? “Not really unheard,” her husband quipped in between. “I too had similar symptoms as my son, when I was a child.” We both turned towards him asking, what happened then? “Nothing,” he said. “I was left to myself, and I recovered as time passed. Of course we had lots of people at my home to take care of my madness… a luxury that doesn’t feature any longer today.”
I and my friend both looked at each other. Her husband is an IIM/IIT-bred professional, attending to the demanding schedules of a high profile telecom giant. With such credentials, one is supposed to be called “intelligent” and “successful”!
“But I can’t do that,” my friend protested. “This ADHD is taking a toll on his studies. There are complaints from school. We can’t take that risk where things are left to heal by themselves. What if this leads to bigger issues? Who will pull up for the academic backlog?”
This unfortunately, is the status of modern-day parenting. The information and the resultant insecurity. While information helps in detecting and treating many syndromes before they cast their harmful effects way too deep, it also makes us jittery unable to figure out when to panic and when to let go. In between all these confusions, somewhere it’s our children who face the music. My friend, for example, is in a miserable state. “Instead of giving him (her child) time to heal organically and settle down as per his own rhythm, am I pressurising him to catch up?” She panicked. But does she, or do any of us for that matter, have a choice? Goals and targets are frowning at us from every corner. Schools have their curriculums. Peers have their judgements. Parents have ambitions. And the society has competitions — featuring somewhere in the middle of the race is as bad as losing it. Pace is pre-decided; it is no longer tuned as per the comfort of each unique child. Anything that challenges this pace, hence, raises an alarm in families.
Nothing wrong with seeking professional help when it is required. But given that ADHD is such a commonly discussed term these days, it makes sense that we identify some factors which make it so relevant today compared to the yesteryear. Are there any external stimuli that aided a turn-around a few decades ago, which we have overlooked in our present lives?
Set a routine
In our childhood, we did not stay up till late watching television. Neither did we keep ourselves glued on to the laptop or mobile phones throughout the day. With these unavoidable vices coming in today, we often overlook the fact that our kid’s routines have gone for a toss. He is living an indisciplined life when food, sleep, work, leisure happen as per convenience and not as per the mandates of a healthy metabolism. This often results in internal restlessness which manifests externally as hyper-activity.
Food and flavours
Earlier we had seasonal vegetables. Cauliflower was available only in winters. But now, everything is available all through the year. The artificial production process and manures or fertilizers used might give us the pleasure of consuming vegetables of our choice, but it affects our system. For a child, often they show signs of pre-matured puberty or hyper-activity. Added flavours and synthetic food also contributes to the issue. The only option is to switch into home-cooked food prepared as organically as possible.
We discussed how these days every second child comes up with some issue or the other, and requires professional help. Otherwise, how come such things were never important some 30 years back? “Not really unheard,” her husband quipped in between. “I too had similar symptoms as my son, when I was a child.”
Few decades earlier, we were lucky to enjoy the constant attention of grandparents and others in a joint family. This means, kind or strict voices kept caring vigil on us. Also, we were blessed with quality time from elders who hand-held us into things. With busy lives today, family structures shrinking into nuclear set-ups, and half the tasks outsourced to hired personnel, our children miss out on that careful parental observation. It is hence important that instead of simply engaging the kids into activities, the parents set aside time to play with them outside, participate in physical activities together and choose such indoor games that help develop their intelligence.
Children have tenfold energy that needs to be channelized. Earlier we had fields to run and play and exhaust ourselves. Now there are theme parks and amusement parks, which offer specific options. Nothing against these parks, but a child does require that uninterrupted view and greenery to sooth her senses. When there is a vast expanse on land for her to explore, she automatically engages herself to investigate and discover options for herself. Lack of readymade options help engage both her body and mind. Having spent her energy sufficiently there, she gets a good sleep at night which benefits her nerves.
Remember those massages that our grandparents and parents bestowed on us? Most of the times, the oil used was embellished with kitchen ingredients. Massage touched various corners of the body, increasing the blood circulation. Also, it invited the child’s attention to specific areas of her body, where massage was given at that particular moment. It helped in shaping the focus and helped concentration. Reviving those therapeutic massage technics can help children in multiple ways.
Issues and problems appearing these days will follow their own course towards recovery. However, staying aware about them and some precautionary technics might just help reduce some parental stress!