Thursday, August 5, 2010

What is "normal" for little boys?

I read this article on aish.com, and it really broke my heart. Admittedly, it does not deal with matters of life and death, but it talks of an unanswered plea for understanding of so many children and parents who have to deal with the school system. 

 It tells about the anguish of a mother who was told by her son's school that her five-year-old needs to be "evaluated" for suspected behavioral problems. Now, I'm still a very new mother and have not yet been blessed with having a boy. Also, it's impossible to assess the situation from reading a brief article and without seeing the child, but from what this mother tells, it sounds to me as though her son is a perfectly normal little boy, with the traits of being exceedingly active, curious and outgoing.

It is no secret that little boys are more active and boisterous than little girls. It is also no secret that little boys are diagnosed with behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and put on medications to "control" them, such as Ritalin, far more often than little girls. Those little boys with "ants in their pants" who are unable to sit straight for a whole lesson are the ones who later become our great adventurers, explorers, discoverers and inventors.

So what happens when such a boy's natural, active desire to explore and touch everything doesn't get an appropriate outlet and he's scolded for "misbehaving"? I see two possible outcomes: either his curiosity is eventually dulled and he loses interest in learning, or his constantly stifled "ants in the pants" really get out of control and he acquires a genuine behavioral problem.

The school system is aimed at the average child, and it would be unreasonable to expect something else when there are 35-40 (as is typical in Israel), or you know what, even 25 students in a class. Many fall through the cracks: the very active, the dreamers, the slow, the fast… and anyone that might be labeled as "weird".

When I first started school, I arrived at 1-st grade mid-year. We were newcomers in Israel, and in Ukraine, my country of birth, I still attended kindergarten because school starts at 7 years old there, and not 6 years old like in Israel. On top of the cultural shock, I was not used to school. I didn't speak Hebrew, though I was constantly soaking it up, and since there was only one other Russian-speaking child in class, I didn't really talk much. I used to sit at the back of the class and draw, completely withdrawn from my surroundings, as it appeared. The teacher, without much pondering, decided I must be either mentally deficient or have a severe form of ADD, and suggested the option of "special education".

My mother took me to a psychologist to be evaluated, and was told to say to my teacher that she's dealing with a perfectly normal and intelligent child who is simply taking some time to adjust. To everybody's surprise, by the time I started second grade my Hebrew was already very good – turns out that "silent" period was not such a "waste of time in class" after all.

So evaluation is not necessarily a bad thing; however there is a risk that a child will be unjustly labeled as someone who has a behavioral problem. But even if that doesn't happen, a child who doesn't fit in might easily fall through the cracks of a system that is not exactly friendly, especially to little boys.

The mother in the article goes on to say,

Crazy thoughts race through my head. I will protect my child from being labeled. I will home-school. I will give up my career, a career that is more calling than work.



If I may voice my opinion, I don't think the thought of homeschooling is at all crazy. I'm not saying everyone should homeschool; I'm not saying everyone who starts homeschooling a kindergartener must stick to this path until the child is finished with highschool program. However, in the case of a little child who seems too creative for organized schooling, it might just do to pull him out of school for a year or two. It's a long period of time for a child, and after that, his behavior may well naturally change to what is considered more "normal" in school, with no outside pressure. Some of the "antsiness" may be outgrown. Children start formal education when they are still so very young these days. Sometimes, one more year at home is all that is needed.  

42 comments:

Joie said...

Are there Montessori or Waldorf programs in Israel? I have one of those active little boys who doesn't stop opening things, seeing how they work, talking, certainly does not sit still and on and on. I have my teacher's certification in special education and he is not ADD or ADHD. We have him in a fabulous Montessori program where the whole school is 20 students. They range in age from 3-8 and are schooled together. He is very focused as he goes from one work station to another and he is able to work at his own pace (though he is also challenged appropriately).

There is also a book that might interest you. *The Blessing of a Skinned Knee." I can't remember the author's name right now but she is Jewish (probably reform) and is a child psychologist here in the states. She writes about this topic among others in that book and from a Jewish perspective.

Anonymous said...

nicely put.
-Lisa

Sarah said...

To Joie--Waldorf schooling is not an acceptable option for many Jewish parents, because of the pagan teachings and racial stereotypes promoted in many of these schools. For some Jewish objections, see, for example:

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/NJP_WhatEveryJewishParent.html

Kate said...

One of our local talk show hosts went through this with his young son. The school took it upon themselves to evaluate the boy and concluded he was ADD and needed Ritalin. They were angry at the dad for refusing the ritalin and taking his son to their own doctor. Turned out the boy had swollen adnoids and needed them removed. After the surgery, he was fine! There was never no ADD and never any need for ritalin. The school's crazy approach and pressure on the father could have denied the child the real medical attention he needs.

Besides, ritalin doesn't cure the problem. It cover it up.

EY said...

There's another serious consequence of all this "labeling" and evaluation stuff. When too many otherwise normal boys are packed off to therapy and drugged, other parents start to fear "the label" and decide not to do anything about it- which is all well and good if your child really is just a normal little boy. Unfortunately, though, you end up with little boys who really DO have problems not getting the help they need. Medications such as Ritalin are necessary for some people, though not nearly as many as it's prescribed for. Paradoxically, it's both over- and under- prescribed, because too many people get it when they don't really need it, while at the same time, too many who really do need it don't get it.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Sarah, just what I was going to say. As far as I know no Waldorf schools exist that would be acceptable for Orthodox Jews.

Analytical Adam said...

It's nice to see Aish throwing a bone to boys as they do have a history of scapegoating of men and discriminating against men and promoting false claims against them and push women to work and do nothing to help men in that regard. If men have no purpose other then being the scapegoats and considered evil they will obviously have behavior problems.

To be honest though I think the biggest reason boys likely have more behavior problems is because the mother and the father are more interested in punishing the son for other man's so called sin and the child only hears that being a boy is somehow evil and he isn't giving any sense of purpose in life. And the culture itself gives little purpose for men and in fact feminism this sense they don't have to even work hard which of course is not true. Also some of the boys because of this "envy of men" are controlled to a very extreme degree by the mother for no rational reason. None of this helps the boy to learn about a rational G-d and that part of our reason is the world is to make it a fair, just world which of course does not mean punishing men because they have stronger spacial skills and analytical skills and not allowing them to use this skill.

This is all spoken from my own experience and not from some book as I was once a boy and once a teenager in the religious world and my experiences were very negative and I was labeled with various disabilities to this day. My parent still want to think I Have aspergers because I am interested in many facts. I am a guy I am not a girl but I am very social but I am not a female. A lot of the issues is they want boys to be girls. Also if boys to fit an agenda they are punished as I have been my whole life and Aish is part of that problem. Feminism is the worst is the religious world in my opinion even though some women stay at home but their hatred towards and sticking it to men seems to be what turns them on and what religious organizations do to get a lot of people interested and Aish is the worse example of this. But it is nice they through a bone although I have to say Aish is guilty of much slander towards Jewish men and people should be aware of this.

But in general because of my negative experiences I really don't like this idea of always bashing man and that they have it easy but no religious man I have met seems to care. They hate men that don't fit the agenda women 100% good men 100% bad which most male-female relations are more nuanced then this. So does the religious world and homes. Again this is from personal experience.

Joe and Elaine said...

In the United States, best practice dictates that a teacher cannot legally recommend medication for a student. Teachers are not doctors. A teacher can merely share his/her observations with parents/guardians and should never do more. We are about the same age and I remember students being labeled as 'special education' because of their deficit in knowing the English language as well. In the US, that should not happen anymore. Special education law indicates that a student should be evaluated in his/her native language using an evaluation tool normed to his/her peer group. Obviously in a classroom full of students classroom management issues arise, however, I think many teachers are becoming very good at working with students who don't meet 'normal' expectations. For example, I have students work while bouncing on exercise balls or roam the room while I am teaching (because I know they are still learning). A good teacher will try to teach in a variety of modes (aural, kinesthetic, etc.) to interest every child. There will always be pros and cons to any type of education. But thank you for recognizing poor teaching practice! It shouldn't be happening and is a detriment to the profession! I know my comments on your page don't fit your 'typical' reader, but sometimes I think teachers really get bad press on a lot of blogs! We aren't all bad and many of us love our jobs and work in great schools!

Erela said...

It breaks my heart to see so many of these kids labelled and medicated when I think much of it really is simply ants in the pants, boredom, a lack of creative outlet, poor nutrition and / or poor parenting. ADD / ADHD makes me wonder in some cases. Not all, but I sometimes wonder how much is mislabeled for lack of insight and information. I am not going to go further than that because I tend to get my head ripped off when I voice this unpopular opinion ;)

I find it kind of sad too that this woman kind of sounds like she needs to put her 'calling' before her child's well being.

Anonymous said...

way too much labeling is going on in western societies. it started in the mid-1980's and has reached a ridiculous level these days.

when i was in school (mid-60's), kids weren't scrutinized and labeled as having all manner of psychiatric disorders as they are today. and the incredibly wide variety of psychoactive drugs that are used to "treat" children these days just didn't exist back then.

in my day, if you misbehaved in school, you got consequences, not a pill.

back then, kids played outside, did chores, and didn't stare at the t.v. 5 hours per day. our food wasn't genetically modified and didn't contain massive amounts of corn products. life then was a lot less convenient but a lot more healthy.

contemporary western culture has created the erroneous idea that we need "experts" to tell us how to raise our children and even how to birth them. we've lost confidence in ourselves as parents because of all the "experts," and in many cases have given in to wrong advice because we are so confused.

the reality is, God put us in charge of our own children. he did not put "experts" in charge of them. we have to stand strong, have faith and hope in God, and pray constantly for his guidance.

additionally, a very clean and simple organic diet, lots of exercise, and a good work ethic does wonders to improve so-called "ADHD" and many, many other 21st century "illnesses" that simply were not that common 30 years ago.

Sarah said...

I really wish you would moderate comments like Adam's above. What he wrote is completely defamatory. Aish is an organization that teaches about Jewish religious observance. It does not scapegoat anyone or push anyone to work. It mostly holds short classes and seminars about topics like "What is Shabat?" "What is Kashrut?" etc. I don't know how any Orthodox Jews would consider that to be discriminatory or a bad thing.

In general I appreciate that you allow comments with a variety of viewpoints, but when comments are motzi sheim ra about a particular organization, I think that crosses a line.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Sarah,

About 90% of Adam's comments don't pass through my moderation.

The above was actually not so bad for him and even connected to the topic of the post.

Matushka Anna said...

I homeschool my five children. I am grateful for the opportunity to do it and humbled by God's interventions to make it happen.

I posted on the "problem of educating boys" on my own blog: http://prayingwithmyfeet.blogspot.com/2010/06/educatin-g-boys.html

Perhaps there might be a helpful hint for someone there.

Marianne said...

Hi Mrs. Anna --- I have a 2 1/2 year old boy, who is crazy active. Most of our local friends have little girls, so when they see him, they're overwhelmed. He's not a bad child - at all. He doesn't hit or take toys, he's simply perpetual motion.

So, I have this real fear when it comes time for him to go to school (he's in full-time home daycare right now) that he will be labeled. I really hope to homeschool, at least for the early years, but as of right now, my husband is not on board. I feel like many times in the public schools, boys are set up to fail. It's not a coincidence that fewer boys are graduating from college than girls (in the U.S.) today.

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with anonymous above. Turn off the TV, take away the gameboy, unplug your kids from the sitting-still electronic stimulus, and see what happens. Let them drink water, not soda. Let them have toast with peanut butter for breakfast, not Poptarts. Let them play outside as much as possible, relying on their own imaginations rather than a stimulus feed.
That said, I also wholeheartedly endorse homeschooling. Children are not designed to sit still and be quiet for hours at a time for months. The fact that we dope our kids to slow them down and shut them up is beyond horrifying.
Gracie

Leah Brand-Burks said...

"Those little boys with "ants in their pants" who are unable to sit straight for a whole lesson are the ones who later become our great adventurers, explorers, discoverers and inventors."
Very well put, Anna. I love my two boys, and delight in the nature of little boys. You are so right on this, and it makes me all the more excited to homeschool these precious boys.

Anonymous said...

Twenty-one years ago my oldest son started kindergarten. Every day I was called to the school because of his behaviour problems....he couldn't sit still, constant disruptions, etc. While he was very bright and quickly finished his work, he was always causing some sort of trouble. After a year of stress, it finally dawned on us, and his teachers, that he was bored out of his skull. The work was just not advanced enough. He was gifted, not ADD or ADHD as he may have been labeled today. By the time he was in second grade, he was reading at a 9th grade level, and doing 6th grade math and science. In junior high, he had his IQ tested--he scored 198. This disruptive five year old has gone on to have a brilliant Naval career.

Please, if you are reading this and have a child like this, don't automatically assume he is ADD or ADHD--he could just be very intelligent and bored! Try giving more challenging schoolwork, more advanced books to read. It could make all the difference in the world.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Matushka Anna,

As I said, I don't have boys yet but I totally agree with your assessment: schools are geared towards girls so much more than they are geared towards boys. Schools reward neatness, quietness, meekness, and not putting a single toe out of line - all of which are qualities typical of most "good girls" but only a few boys. Many boys are naturally brilliant but don't succeed in school precisely because of that.

When I was in high school we had boys who would clearly benefit from fewer hours of formal learning in a day, and more hours of physical activity or hands-on apprenticeship that would allow them to acquire a profession. Girls, while bored, could somehow keep their behavior in check. Boys found that far harder to do. They were active and competitive, as MEN naturally are, but no one encouraged them to be that. The current modern mixed-gender educational setting is a disaster for boys.

When homeschooling, less time is wasted on bureaucracy such as checking name lists and keeping the class quiet, and the boys can complete their "sitting still" time far quicker than in a class setting. Then they can move on to activities which would be a healthy outlet for their energy.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Marianne,

Shira often plays together with the boy next door, who is her age. When I see them together, it's truly an amazing difference - while both are wonderful good-natured toddlers, he's such a bouncy little ball, always prone to climb whatever his chubby little legs can tackle and to take things apart. He won't be content sitting for a long time and listening to stories or looking at picture books like Shira. Sure, she pulls drawers open and sticks her fingers in the fish bowl too, but he just doesn't stop. And that's normal. I've heard the same thing from anybody who has both boys and girls - the differences are just striking. Instead of valuing and encouraging them, boys are stifled and told to go and be like girls, which is of course more convenient and manageable, but ends up in a disaster like today, with so many boys on Ritalin unnecessarily (and no, I'm not a medical professional but it simply doesn't make sense so many boys need Ritalin).

Joy said...

From reading your blog for several months as a 75 year old mother of three daughters, I just wanted to express my opinion.

My daughter, who is an attorney turned "stay at home mother" and home schooler of a 14 year old son, I would strongly encourage you to home school your children. The materials are great and seemingly endless possibilities.
When my daughter's family recently moved into a new neighborhood the neighbors thought (by just chatting with)her 14 yr old that he was in college. Her 2-1/2 yr old daughter is next in line.

I hate to say this but our school systems in the US at deplorable.

Sorry to ramble, hurriedly written.

Swirlypepper said...

I was very lucky to go to school in the UK. My teachers have ALL been excellent, I can't think of a time when I've finished work early where I haven't been rewarded with the oppurtunity to sit and draw what I wanted, write a story or read a book.

Another thing I want to say is that although a lot of things mentioned are simply five-year-old boy traits, it's not too early to start teaching children how to behave with others. If too much affection makes other children uneasy, it's up to his parents to aid the teachers in distinguishing between what's acceptable at home and what's expected at school. I realise kids aren't made to sit for hours on end (and in the UK this is maxed at 90mins) but it's a behaviour that DOES need to be addressed. Not labelled and medicated, but corrected when necessary and ignored unless it's disruptive. Not all fidgeters become explorers, some fall behind, get disheartned and feel resentful towards education for the rest of their academic careers.

Kat said...

As a special education I definitely see a need for early intervention if there truly is a problem. If a child is so distracted that he is completely unable to learn then there is a reason for concern. However, I would (as a parent)exhaust EVERY avenue before consenting to having my child labeled or put on any sort of medication. This would include diet modification, behavior modification, taking away the constant electronic stimulation in the home, perhaps enrolling him in a physical activity (like swimming or martial arts), etc. I do worry that other little ones (and not just the school) are noticing that his behavior is different and shying from him on the playground.

Anonymous said...

I have a very similar story! When my sister was 3 years old, the doctors "diagnosed" her with ADD and wanted to put her on medications to calm her down. My parents refused, and today my sister is one of the quietest, most laid-back young women you will ever meet. My family still jokes about how doctors wanted to put my soft-spoken sister on medications! She was just a healthy, curious, active TODDLER at that age. Toddlers and young children are supposed to be full of energy and curiosity. To deprive them of that healthy learning period by forcing them into a drugged state just so teachers don't have to "deal" with them would be criminal. Now, I'm not saying that ADD doesn't exist and that medications for it are always unnecessary, but parents need to seriously evaluate whether they truly think their child has a problem, or if they're just being a child. Doctors don't know everything; they know a lot, but not everything!

~MT

Pickle said...

I've done some recent reading on a small percentage of schools here that have started segregating boys and girls. They let the boys have more leisure and room to move about to learn and girls tend to sit at a desk and learn in a more quiet atmosphere.

I WOULD LOVE to see my son in a school like this when he gets to that age.

Boys are just different and people are lazy.

Joie said...

Not having my child in Waldorf, I have not actually seen it "live.' If this is truly how it is lived out then I would not put my child in it. However, I have heard from some well-educated parents who are horrified by Nazism and Neo-Nazism that it is a good program. It may be that programs here in America (and especially in the very urban area we live near) that those roots are indeed shed for a better overall program. As for the "angles" and "Madonnas" of Waldorf, Montessori has its roots in Catholicism and while there are some specific Catholic Montessori schools, my son is in a very secular program where there are students who are Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and agnostic. As an Episcopal priest, I would prefer my son have a religious education but I really believe he needs to be challenged to THINK in a variety of circumstances. We'll take care of the religion at home and at church. We have a saying in our church, "You don't have to check your mind at the door." Therefore, a well-rounded education with a variety of experiences will build the strongest character and the deepest spirituality.

Robin said...

This is exactly why I homeschool my son. He's just starting 2nd grade, but we pulled him out 1/4 of the way through kindergarten. He had already learned that he was "bad", and we still have issues because of the difficult time he had in school. He is very bright, and already knew much of the material that was being taught in school, so he was bored. He's also very social, and, according to him, was trying to get the attention of the other kids. Also, he said there was "too much gluing." He has always hated getting his hands sticky. His teacher only saw "bouncy and noisy." When I told her we were going to homeschool him, she said she was worried that we would never find out what was "wrong" with him that way! Well, maybe that's because the only thing that was "wrong" was the school.

Kacie said...

My son (19 months) is such a sweetie and he loves to learn new things. He's still a bit young and I don't know what his learning style is yet, but if he wants to move about while he learns his ABCs, ok!

We are homeschooling when the time comes because it would just break my heart to see him labeled or stifled.

Kids need discipline, sure, but they also need the freedom to be kids!

Katie V. said...

Anna,

Thank you for this posting! I think you've observed something that in someways is so subtle, but yet so critical as to what it is doing to our young children.

I think you hit it right on when you said "schools are much more geared towards girls than boys...but only a few boys"

Precisely because of this, I've had my doubts about sending my son to Catholic school.

Besides the points you made (with which I agree), I do also believe feminism has reached into the classroom. How could it not? If it has touched the average woman,then it has touched the averal principal, administrator, teacher etc...These days, there has been a desire to dumb down the distinct differences of boys and girls...producing a somewhat neutralized sex. A friend of mine who had children growing up in the 70's said there was a whole movement to get boys to play with dolls.

God made boys and girls differently. And it's completely normal for a boy to be physical, active etc...It's like a little chipping away of their manhood starts when they are little boys in this country.

My husband, who comes from Colombia, was so surprised when he came to the US to see how many young boys are put on medication for so-called hyperactivity etc..

It also probably doesn't help the fact that children (boys) spend a lot of time on their DS's, the computer, vegging out in front of TV...especially cause mom is worn out from her day of work. Back when we were growing up, we spent hours outdoors in physical activity.

I truly hope parents will start to wake up to the holes in our system.

Sarah said...

I'm currently having problems with my almost-6-yr-old son, both at school and at home, and his teacher has suggested we talk to a doctor about the possibility of ADHD as he ticks just about every box on the list of symptoms. He's a bright boy, his teacher has already put him in a higher class for reading and gives him harder work than the rest of the class in other subjects, but she's ruled out boredom as the cause of his problems - he's doing advanced enough stuff that he has to ask for help. Homeschooling is not an option, my husband will not allow it. He's in a class with about 15 other students, there is always at least 2 teachers, and his teacher is very involved in what he's doing, so its not a matter of being left behind by an overful class, either.

Yes, boys are different to girls. I can't believe how much less trouble my little girl gets into. And even at 18months and with no experience of babies, she rocks her dollies in a cradle, and pats her teddies to go to sleep - whereas my son would toss them around the room and shove them in a corner.

Boys are bouncy. Boys yell and wiggle and run in circles for hours on end. But not many children I know will suddenly ask how trains work in the middle of a conversation about why it is important not to take toys away from the baby without giving her something else, or be physically unable to stand still without hopping from one foot to the other or swinging arms around like a windmill.

I don't want to believe he has ADHD and I believe it is WAY over diagnosed, and far too many children are medicated when they don't need to be, but sometimes an evaluation is the only way to rule it out and figure out what the real problem is.

Miss Tatiana said...

As a teacher, I hate seeing the effects of medicating children. Yes, they may be quiet-- but the drugged look on their faces breaks my heart.

There's nothing wrong with saying boys and girls are different (THEY ARE!) so yes parents and educators should realize that and educate them accordingly.

Jo said...

Anna,

I am a mother of a 22 year old and I know all about ADHD. Yes, it is real as my son has had it all his life and still struggles with it now. My son could not do the following (all the time):

- He couldn’t sit still
- He struggle with following instructions
- He was/is impulsive
- He has a very short attention span
- He would stare out of the window rather than focusing on what he was meant to do
- Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
- He wasn’t a team player, struggle to work with others
- He was poorly co-ordinated
- He didn’t make friends (couldn't)
- He was a loner (he still is)

However for a child that found academic life so hard, he had one talent that surpassed his schools pals and that was art. My son had the most amazing attention to detail. He saw things that others missed and would spend hours drawing (having no problems at sitting still and focusing). This is not uncommon with ADHD children.

We did go down the controversial path of drugs — Ritalin — it worked for my son, but it may not work for all. He stopped at the age of 16 and I taught him to live without it. We used herbal stress relievers and this did help and then he stopped those to. Now he is drug free and learning to coping with his difficulties on his own.

I used the “Elimination Diet” for a number of years - cutting out foods/drinks containing artificial colours and additives would make him hypo-active and emotional (it has nothing to do with sugar). I had to go back to the “way grandma would cook” as almost all processed foods contained the back “stuff”.

If you want to know what it feels like to have ADHD - my son describes it as “walking into a crowded shopping centre and hearing all the noise - very loud - and being unable to tune ANY of it out” Overloaded by sound, motion, light and colour. He gets very frustrated when people say it's just kids acting up and being silly —its far more than that. Most boys have some of these traits - but occasionally and not all at once.

I hope that gives some insight in to ADHD - this is no a made up condition to keep boys quiet. Parents with children ADHD can fall apart as it is so difficult to live with a hyperactive child 24/7.

Joanne

Jo said...

My son is 22 yrs and still has ADHD - it is real. He struggled sitting still, struggles to follow instructions, impulsive, short attention span, lack of focus, difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others, couldn't work in teams, poor co-ordinated, couldn't make friends and therefore a loner. These things happened all the time with no relief.

Everything was difficult, a up-hill battle — many tears were shed in this mammoth journey through school.

We did go down the controversial path of drugs — Ritalin — it worked for my son, but it may not work for all. He stopped at the age of 16 and I taught him to live without it. We used herbal stress relievers and this did help and then he stopped those to. Now he is drug free and learning to coping with his difficulties on his own.

I used the “Elimination Diet” for a number of years - cutting out foods/drinks containing artificial colours and additives would make him hypo-active and emotional (it has nothing to do with sugar). I had to go back to the “way grandma would cook” as almost all processed foods contained the back “stuff”.

If you want to know what it feels like to have ADD - my son describes it as “walking into a crowded shopping centre and hearing all the noise - very loud - and being unable to tune ANY of it out” Complete overload.

Buffy said...

Good post!

I would add that schools are harsh on girls who do not fit the pattern of girl behaviour either. Time we saw children as individuals.

Anonymous said...

to sarah with the 6 year old son: have you cleaned up his diet? try it and see what happens.

see if eliminating all wheat and gluten, all sugar, and all corn products makes any difference.

in addition, do some research about genetically modified food and stay away from it. (currently all russet potatoes and tomatoes in the U.S. are genetically modified.) eat organic potatoes and tomatoes instead.

sadly, we have to face the fact that our food is contaminated here in the U.S., and it definitely contributes to all types of illnesses, and possibly to children's hyperactivity.

i read an interesting article about genetically modified corn being introduced into small villages in mexico. the local peoples instantly became ill from eating the corn, with many of them developing asthma!

hello? does that ring a bell here in the U.S.? we have an alarmingly high rate of asthma here, which seems to have "suddenly" appeared within the past 30 years -- about the time GMO corn made its entrance into our food supply.

i hope you will please try the diet modification, sarah, and increase your son's exercise. go for long walks together and try to get him to a park or playground where he can run as much as he wants.

clean food and lots of exercise really can do wonders. it helped my kids through their hyperactive period. good luck!

AnneMarie said...

Mrs.Anna, this is an all too familiar subject for me and my husband. My stepson, who lives with his mother, is on an enormous amount of ADHD meds. So much so that he falls asleep for hours each day and must repeat the first grade. Instead of reducing his medication, his mother agreed to have him put on an additional pill that is supposed to help keep him awake. My husband and I are so upset about his overmedication. The behavior problems his mom complains about do not even happen at our house, and we find that he is just a very energetic young boy. I hate to see what long-term effects he will suffer due to him literally being tranquilized each day.

Analytical Adam said...

Many boys in the United States are pressured to be put on Ritalin Aish by the way has had no problem with puting your children on drugs and has had article to this affect which is disgusting. Abusing children doesn't concern Aish.

There is a bigger context in that in general unneeded drugs are being pushed in many area's including Lipator for high cholesterol. For children as well. And boys are the canary in the coal mine. Long term of Ritalin has serious side effects including stunting growth.

The people who have been the first in the US to speak against it and use their bully pulpuit for the RIGHT reason is a number of talk radio hosts those being Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham.

Analytical Adam said...

The other thing I have to say is Aish supports feminism. As to why they do the founder Rabbi Weinberg and his wife actually were living completely separate lives and it doesn't suggest that Rabbi Weinberg was such a great husband but they had the money to live separate lives. And men bashing is a cheap way to get influence in the world today and many enjoy this and that is more important then anything. That and praising a woman because she was born a woman which to me is idol worship to worship you based on you being born a woman. Then the women complain about men but it is their own envy of men that lead them to fall for con men. The people that label themselves as religious the women in this group and their husbands to make their immoral wives happy are the worst offenders of this.

Also for someone living frugal as you do Mrs. Anna all Aish cares about is making money for themselves so the husband and wife can live separate lives. So Aish really stands the exact opposite of what you stand for or maybe you don't really stand for these values it is just used that we should have sympathy for you. Just saying. I have never saying

Lastly I may have misread this but home schooled people should not ignore abuses by those who send their kids to a school. At the end of the day this evil of drugging children if you give the drug industry this much power you may be a target yourself by ignoring their making more money for themselves and their wives and their families by drugging children.

Melissa D said...

Sarah, thanks for posting the link to the Waldorf critics page. While I realize that many of the statements there are anecdotal (I mean that bullying by teachers or students is not the province of Waldorf and I saw it condoned in my public school in the States), the racism and anthroposophy were real eye-openers. Here I thought Waldorf education was just a crunchy-granola type of hippie schooling... ugh. The story of the Jewish-Asian girl being singled out for playing the ugly dwarf was chilling. I felt like weeping for some of those kids, the stories were so heartbreaking.

That said, as a mom of 2 girls and a boy I can already see a difference in temperament between boy and girl. And my middle daughter is a spirited, very tactile child... She is generally well-behaved, but I could easily see an inexperienced or weary teacher labeling her and tracking her into medication to make her more docile. I do not believe that children should be completely free to range around outside all authority, or to infringe on other children, so I do try to train my kids to be polite and kind and to become aware of situations that require a quiet and respectful spirit.

My kids are not quite old enough for formal schooling, but at our brand-new library my 2.5 year old looked down out of a large window above a parking lot and said "Hello down dere!" -- and the librarian came running to hush her up. This was in the children's section! I hope school will be kind to my little one, especially since budget cuts mean kids don't get the daily recess or playtime we got as children to get our wiggles out!

(Sorry to write a book, Anna!)

Anonymous said...

My son was ADD. He took meds. All the ADD kids in our neighborhood came to our house because we were set up to have them. Our carpet was beyond being damaged, and I became an expert at fixing fist holes in the walls. I actually liked those kids, though their own parents couldn’t stand them.

My brother once told me, knowing my kid was ADD, “There is no such thing as ADD. Only bad parenting.” He knew this, of course, mostly because his own kids weren’t ADD. I note with interest HIS kids did not get admitted to med school; an obvious case of bad parenting…

However, let’s hear the rest of the story. In medical school, my son accidentally learned that as an adult when he ate peanut butter, after not having eaten it for months, he acted just like he did as an ADD kid. His words were, “It was bad!”

There is a very expensive test, so expensive the labs won’t even tell you how much it costs. They take one blood sample, and use an electron microscope to test the person for several hundred allergies, foods, etc

My personal unproved opinion / theory is that most mental problems are related to food allergies as my son’s was. Who would ever imagine a peanut butter allergy would be shown as mental disturbance?

My son also read, as an example, that England had no mental asylums until they started importing refined cane sugar, and the number of crazy people was correlated with the imported quantities of cane sugar. A few years ago, a man wrote a book about how he cured his own mental illness (I forget if it was paranoid schizophrenia or bipolar, probably the former) by eliminating all sugar from his diet.

I would heartily recommend any parent whose kid is diagnosed with any sort of mental illness or syndrome to get that test no matter what you have to do, short of getting stuck in prison.

Anonymous age 68

Mrs. Anna T said...

Everyone, thanks for your amazing stories!

Jo, I have no doubt ADD and ADHD are real - just not at all as common as "professionals" would have us believe, and also, medications are not always the one and only solution.

Adam, I have been reading Aish for years and find their articles encouraging and uplifting. I did notice some feminist trends, and a recent video which unequivocally recommended medication for ADD adults. However sometimes one must eat the fish and spit out the bones.

Anon 68, that's quite a story! I have heard food allergies can have ADD-like symptoms sometimes. It's VERY worth checking out. The problem is, it's difficult to point out the specific allergy. And most so-called professionals would rather drug people down instead of looking at alternative ways to solve the problem - it's up to us parents to protect our children from being caught up in the grind of the school system, either by homeschooling or being actively involved in whatever the teachers/doctors suggest.

Sarah said...

Regarding Aish--their website publishes articles on many different viewpoints, most of which are written by people who don't work for Aish. You can find some articles by people who are more in favor of feminism and some less so. For example, I've seen a question-and-answer column on Aish that encouraged women to work less and spend more time with their families. I don't think it's correct to ascribe all those views to the organization itself.

Sarah said...

To the advising anonymous - we have previously cut a variety of things from his diet in an effort to A. figure out his allergies, and B. see if they were making him high energy. Wheat and dairy were among them. No change. Yesterday he had the first sugar he'd had in 4 days - a single lolly. No effect. I live in Australia, so our GM foods are quite possibly different, I'll look into that. He has no artificial colours or flavours, no preservatives, and when I DO use sugar, its either brown sugar or honey, and as small amount as I can manage without whatever food tasting like garbage.

It's been raining insane amounts in my town recently so its been hard to get him outside in the grass and burning off energy, but he does utilise our trampoline a lot.

He also doesn't watch much TV. We banned that when he became uncontrollably rude. He gets about 1/2hour in the evenings before bed, IF he gets himself organised, and he can watch one movbie on the weekends. So he's not a TV-sloth.

Thankyou for the advise, I'm trying everything I can think of to get him calm enough to function, even though I know he'll always be high energy and wiggly.