By Bill Fox/Columnist
Recently I was reading about a teacher in Florida who was suspended for picking up a middle school student from his seat and depositing him outside of the class.
The student was asked three times not to listen to his music and eventually called his teacher a name. The student said he was not hurt, but regardless his dad said that although what his child did was wrong, he still wanted to pursue charges and, of course, the teacher is now suspended.
According to Dr. Luis Rojas Marcos, a psychiatrist in the U.K., there are amazing new statistics in the last 15 years in regards to children’s health. This was not the case when I entered teaching back in the late 60s.
Dr. Macros states one in five children have mental health problems now and there’s been a 43 per cent increase in cases of ADHD. There is also a 37 per cent increase in adolescent depression and there has been a 200 per cent increase in the suicide rate in children aged 10 to 14, according to her research.
She asks, “What is happening and what are we doing wrong?”
“Today’s children are being overstimulated and over gifted with material objects, but they are deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as emotionally available parents and clearly defined limits, etc.,” Marcos adds.
I might also wonder about all the additives and chemicals now in our foods.
She also mentions today’s kids don’t have simple responsibilities around the house, like making their own beds, setting the table for meals, and other chores.
Instead, in recent years, children have had to deal with digitally distracted parents. Indulgent and permissive parents let some children “rule the world”.
I was upset the other day when someone involved at one of our local schools in Oshawa said, in their opinion, the students run the school. If this is accurate, it is very, very sad.
If we want our children to be happy and healthy individuals, we have to wake up and get back to basics. According to Dr. Marcos, many families see immediate improvements after weeks of implementing the following recommendations:
– Set limits and remember you are the captain of the ship. Your children will feel more confident knowing that you have control of the helm.
– Offer children a balanced lifestyle full of what children need, not just what they want. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your children if what they want is not what they need.
– Provide nutritious food and limit junk food.
– Spend at least one hour a day outdoors doing activities such as cycling, walking, fishing, or bird/insect watching.
I also believe that a daily family dinner that doesn’t take place in front of the TV, and without smartphones or distracting technology is crucial.
As a youngster I remember playing card games with my parents or playing table hockey with my Dad and actually keeping statistics.
I also think it is important that every child has some household chores, and take them to the library so that they can read books.
I think kids need to have a regular schedule during school days that includes getting to bed early enough to have enough sleep.
Parents should not feel responsible for always keeping children entertained, and please do not use technology, as I have done, as a cure for boredom.
Dr. Marcos concludes with these points:
– Be emotionally available to connect with children and teach them self-regulation and social skills.
– Turn off the phones at night when children have to go to bed to avoid digital distractions.
– Become a regulator or emotional trainer for your children. Teach them to recognize and manage their own frustrations and anger.
– Teach them to greet others, to take turns, to share without running out of anything, to say thank you and please, to acknowledge mistakes and apologize (but do not force them).
– Be a model of all the values you instill in your children.
- Connect emotionally – smile, hug, kiss, tickle, read, dance, jump, play or crawl with them.
I’m at Bdeefox@rogers.com if you have further suggestions.