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Does your child have ADD?

Attention Deficit Disorder, ADD, health, balance, hyperactivity, Ritalin, television, nutrition,

  • Copyright 2006 Dr. Eileen Silva
  • “Your child can’t return to the classroom until he gets treated for hyperactivity.”
  • “Your child needs evaluation by the school psychologist.”
  • If you’ve heard any of these statements before, or if your child has been identified as having this problem, there are some things you should know. There is no set of clinical tests that can objectively diagnose Attention Deficit Disorder.
  • As for the commonly used Ritalin, did you know that if your child has taken Ritalin after the age of 12, then he or she will not be considered suitable for serving in the Armed Forces because (according to Army recruiters) the drug causes a potential brain alteration.
  • Do you realize that in some school districts, nearly half the children are labeled as having behavioral problems? You are not alone and neither is your child!
  • It’s time for you to ask yourself a couple of questions:
  • Should you risk medicating your child with potentially brain-altering drugs on the outside chance that they will be beneficial?
  • Do the risks of body-chemistry problems outweigh possible benefits?
  • If you don’t feel comfortable taking these kinds of chances with your child, then tell your doctor you want your child to only take medications that are absolutely necessary.
  • Could you accomplish behavior modifications some other way? I’m going to say “Yes!” Let’s look at some lifestyle issues that have a major bearing on children’s behavior:
  • First of all . . . there’s television. The average American watches 6 hours of television per day. This is both sedentary and over-stimulating and delivers negative messages. Limit your child to no more than 2 hours (preferably less) of viewing per day. Take the television out of your child’s room and don’t use it as a babysitter. The same thing goes for computer games. Why don’t you send your child to your backyard gym for a little old-fashioned, physical play? Or better yet, join him!
  • And another thing I’ve noticed: an effective nutritional program is always a good line of defense. Really work to improve your child’s diet. Insist that your child eat fruits and vegetables. Cut out sugar, white flour, chemical additives, fast foods, and preservatives as much as you can. Replace sodas, Kool-Aid and other sugared drinks with plenty of pure water. Stop using Happy Meals, candy, or cookies as rewards. Try substituting non-toxic prizes, like a trip to the zoo, an art project, or a story reading.
  • Be sure your child gets 8 hours or more of sleep. Actual studies show that children need 10-11 hours of sleep. In addition, these studies clearly show that a sleep-deprived child is crabbier and much more of a behavior problem.
  • And, last, but not least, spend quality time with your child, encouraging him or her to have a great day in school and to do better in class work by reinforcing positive things in your conversation. A loved, secure, well-fed, well-rested child, who has healthy playtime activities, is less likely to have behavior problems . . . and is also better armed to cope with whatever problems come along.

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