What Makes a Child Hyper?
What Makes a Child Hyper?
If you were to speak frankly with your neighbors you would find that it seems every other kid is on some type of medication for an attention disorder. Sometimes it almost seems as though the odd child is the one not on medication! Let’s look at fact, fantasy and alternatives.
Teachers, parents and doctors argue over just what constitutes an attention disorder. The very first issue concerns a conflict over what is natural behavior for a child versus what is expected of a child in various circumstances. The obvious first answer is children move, and are made to move a lot! Children have an urge to communicate, but with a limited vocabulary they will often “show” what’s on their minds. In addition, movement is what strengthens their bodies, creates manual dexterity, and actually “programs” their developing nervous systems. By the way, it also keeps them lean.
The big “However….” is that movement and the desire to move at an inappropriate time can be a real pain in the backside, in school, church and restaurants. While it’s a matter of parental principle on how much squirming to permit, it’s important to realize that squirming is the way of children, and trying to stop it is like fighting the tide itself. It can be done, but usually at an energetic cost to the parent!
They also talk a lot, and usually out of turn as they learn the rules of social convention. The energy most kids possess is astounding – including the energy of healing – but until they learn directed behavior and frustration tolerance most of that energy shoots out in every direction. Don’t we parents know this all too well!
One Time in India…
The point I’m trying to make is that there are fundamental contradictions between the conflicting demands of nature and social expectation. Once while travelling in a village in southern India I strongly recall watching a group of children playing and exploring. They would run to one end of the village and look at animals and plants, then run to the other edge and play a game, then sit for a time and talk, then run and explore something else. It wasn’t as chaotic as it looked, as the mothers throughout the village each loosely looked after the group of children as they went about their daily tasks.
Though informal, there was more than just pointless play going on. The children were learning to move, to interact as a group, and about their surroundings. There were very few cars, by the way…..
I note that much of parental stress is based on urban life and “don’t.” Don’t shout, or you’ll annoy the neighbors. Don’t cross the street or you’ll get squished. Don’t walk home alone. Don’t go outside in the rain. Etc.! While such prohibitions are what make our kids mature in our culture, it’s a great struggle that goes against their natural grain, I think.
Often the result is a kinetic but bored child glued to the television, computer or video game. Of course there are downsides to this as well, as we all know! There is evidence that too much fast-change television actually “hardwires” the growing brain to accept this hyper stimulation as the normal state of affairs. It’s therefore not much of a jump to understand that the sedate and focused life of school becomes difficult for a brain so-wired to endure.
Attention disorders are a big topic, and we’ll look more at them in future articles. To set the stage though, let’s say for now that the mind and body are joined at the hip – what affects the one invariably affects the other, for better or worse.