When Your Child Won't...
by Kari West
|"By kindergarten, my wiggling
daughter spent more time squirming out of her chair
than coloring within the lines."
Hyperactive," the learning center specialist wrote.
"Poor concentration; problems with short-term memory,"
the psychologist said.
"Your daughter will have to work twice as hard as other
students," the second grade teacher explained.
When I first held Melanie 19 years ago, I envisioned
her reading third grade books by kindergarten. I pictured
her exhibiting perfect behavior and snuggling quietly
beside me as I worked at my knitting.
But by kindergarten, my wiggling daughter spent more
time squirming out of her chair than coloring within
the lines on a ditto sheet. She bounced and chattered
through church and in restaurants. I cringed when the
phone ran in the evening, because I knew Melanie's teacher
would be on the line: "She talks too much... won't sit
still... can't concentrate... can't... doesn't... isn't."
I searched for answers in parenting books, support
groups for hyperactive children and special diets free
of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and salicylate.
We tried drug therapy, tutoring, a private school and
Special Education classes in the public school. Nothing
"I hate school. Everybody says I'm in the retard class,"
Melanie whined, refusing to cooperate.
"I feel like such a failure as a parent. I don't know
what to do next," I told the pediatrician.
"Haven't you tried everything?" he replied.
"But I can't let her fail."
Each day I added another mark to the chart of unhappy
faces and red marks on the door of the refrigerator.
Another stuffed animal was snatched away because of
defiant behavior and poor academic performance. Each
night Melanie battled with reading, pronouncing one
painful sentence after another, word by word, sound
"Why should I even try?" she'd cry, slamming her head
into the damp crease of her book.
"Because we're not giving up," my voice would spiral
with anger, frustration and resentment.
"Oh, God, what am I doing? Help me," I prayed.
When Melanie turned eight, I volunteered in Junior
Church for two Sunday mornings. The first time, I heard
only Melanie talking over the voices of the other children:
"I want to do something else."
So do I, I muttered to myself. "Honey, we're
doing this now," I sweetly smiled.
"I'm not," she blurted. The entire room looked at me.
I focused on her shrill loud voice, the squeaky chair
legs rubbing the linoleum and the floppy blond hair
bobbing like a restless cork.
Getting to Know Janine
The second Sunday morning, I noticed a new girl, Janine,
pacing back and forth alone in front of the windows
overlooking the church lawn. I guided her toward other
children cutting and pasting at a table.
"What is your name?" I asked.
"I don't want to sit with her, Mom," my daughter interrupted,
as I watched a girl sitting next to Janine move her
chair further down the table.
Arms flailing and loudly muttering to herself, Janine
held up a Medi-Alert bracelet. My eyes scanned the words,
"Speech and Language Disability." Janine was different.
She knew it and so did the other children.
I don't remember the lesson we taught the children
that Sunday. But I will always remember Janine and the
lesson God taught me.
Intellectually, I understood hyperactivity. Yet emotionally,
I struggled accepting "Melanie's hyperactivity." Meeting
Janine showed me my daughter's pain.
I saw how much it hurt to be different.
Walking into the sanctuary one morning several months
later, a well-meaning Sunday school teacher grabbed
my arm. I barely heard her words, "You must do something
about Melanie. She won't... can't... doesn't... isn't."
But this time I was out of answers. Sitting alone in
the back pew, I sobbed, "Lord, I can't take any more.
I can't fix Melanie's problem. I give it to you." As
the communion plate passed, my voice stumbled midway
through the Lord's prayer: "Thy will be done."
Rescued by a Horse
Melanie's hyperactivity decreased in adolescence but
left low self-esteem and a sense of failure. But God,
with an incredible sense of humor, sent a hyperactive
Arabian horse to the rescue.
After three months of riding lessons and stable work,
Melanie asked about leasing a horse. Her stepfather
and I agreed, if she would pay one-fourth of the monthly
board. One day the horse bucked. Despite a broken arm,
she climbed back on "one more time."
"This horse is so stubborn -- just like me, Mom," Melanie
said. "He's hyper and unpredictable. If I ever get him
under control, I'm going to ride him in a horse show."
Blue ribbons and a regional championship plaque now
decorate my daughter's bedroom walls. I've pranced through
more manure than I care to admit photographing my poised,
disciplined equestrian daughter.
I now know that inside my daughter beats a tender heartfor
others with disabilities. Iremember how Melanie finally
befriended Janine, sitting next to her each Sunday.
She was the only invited guest at Janine's 13th birthday
party. A few years ago, when boys on the school bus
called a speech-impaired neighbor girl a "stupid retard,"
Melanie spoke in the girl's defense.
Last week, she told her step-father aboutthe new ranch
boarder. "She's a blind lady. When she rides in the
arena, I call out positions along the rail so she knows
I finally appreciate Melanie's uniqueness. I thank
God his will was done. And I'm grateful for Janine who
taught me to move from annoyance to a place of acceptance.
Now I wonder if the greatest disability of all is not
seeing past a disability to a child's uniqueness.
Kari West is the author of When He Leaves.
Her second book, Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again
-- Living With Losses of the Heart, releases this
fall. You may write her at P.O. Box 11692, Pleasanton,
CA 94588 or visit http://www.gardenglories.com/.
Rambunctious. Full of energy. A real
handful. Everyone knows a child like this-they never sit
still, they talk incessantly, their minds seem to operate
only at top speed.
A Generation Under Sedation
by Clem Boyd
In the late 90s we started to hear
youngsters like these described as having ADD -- Attention
Deficit Disorder. Used just as often is the acronym
ADHD, with the "H" standing for "hyperactive." And usually,
within several seconds of "ADD" being mentioned, another
now-familiar term will accompany it -- Ritalin.
Ritalin is the medication of choice
for children diagnosed with ADHD. Although its prevalence
and easy accessibility would suggest that it's as harmless
as a chewable vitamin, it might be time to take a closer
Ritalin, also called methyl-phenidate,
is a powerful stimulant marketed by the drug company
Novartis, formerly Ciba-Geigy. It is listed as a Schedule
II drug in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a law
passed by Congress in 1970 to regulate narcotics, stimulants,
depressants, hallucinogens and anabolic steroids.
Schedule II of the CSA contains "those substances that
have the highest abuse potential and dependence profile
of all drugs that have medical utility," according to
Terrance Woodworth, deputy director for the Office of
Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration.
The next level up, Schedule I, is reserved for the most
dangerous drugs with no recognized medical use.
Ritalin is one of only two controlled substances prescribed
to young children, the other being amphetamine, under
the trade name AdderallŽ or DexedrineŽ, also used to
While all are stimulants, each drug has been noted
to have an opposite effect on children with ADHD --
it calms them down. And anyone who's spent time with
such a child can appreciate that. Children on these
prescriptions seem to be able to focus, sit still and
learn. Their mood straightens out, and they're not as
prone to fits of rage. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde stories
are common among parents of ADHD children now taking
Ritalin -- Mr. Hyde before the drug, Dr. Jekyll after.
But some are beginning to wonder. The line for lunchtime
Ritalin doses at some schools has begun to resemble
a mid-day military parade. There are stories of teachers
and school administrators pressuring parents to medicate
"overactive" children. Reliance on stimulants to control
hyper behavior is a relatively new phenomenon and was
begun with no research into long-term effects.
Could the calming effect of Ritalin that seems to help
these youngsters concentrate more at school and home
be, at least in some cases, another example of the American
tendency to look for shortcut answers? To date, the
people asking those questions are in the minority.
What's Going On Out There?
No doubt, there are many children who benefit from
Mary Robertson is a registered nurse and the parent
of two children diagnosed with ADHD. She is also a past
president of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit
Speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee
on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, Robertson recalled
the painful experience of retrieving her son Anthony's
belongings from the preschool which did not want him
back. She recounted his time at the "Hyperactivity Clinic"
at the University of Kentucky Medical Center where he
was first diagnosed as ADHD.
"I was trying everything in my power to help him, but
it was not enough," she explained. "We sought evaluations
from a neurologist, then an allergist, then a hearing
specialist, had his eyes checked, made repeated trips
to his pediatrician, visited other psychiatrists and
psychologists. We tried allergy shots, special diets,
behavior management, accommodations and interventions.
Nothing seemed to help.
"He seemed to always be getting into trouble. He could
not stay in his seat; not at home, church or school.
His level of energy and movement caused things to spill,
fall and break. His frustrations were beyond words.
Blocks and chairs were thrown. Occasionally, he would
have hysterical temper tantrums that would last for
Finally, tearfully, and with much trepidation, she
and her husband agreed to try Ritalin. It helped, but
Anthony had tremendous "rebound" side effects when the
drug wore off. They switched to another stimulant which
finally settled him down. As a preteen, he was put on
a combination of antidepressant and stimulant, accompanied
by counseling, an individualized education plan and
lots of love and help from his family. In May 2000,
Anthony graduated from eighth grade as an honor student.
Dr. William B. Carey, clinical professor of pediatrics
at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's
Hospital of Philadelphia, believes there are some kids
who can profit enormously from Ritalin, kids who are
qualitatively different than the rest of the population.
"That's probably one to two percent of all children,"
he offered. "But the way [Ritalin] is handed out, we're
up to 10 to 20 percent, and that's simply unjustified.
It's out of control."
In his testimony before the Texas State Board of Education,
Carey noted that some children are so pervasively overactive
or inattentive that these qualities "get in the way
of normal living and make these children very hard for
any caregivers to manage." He added, "For that small
group medication may be a rational choice as part of
a larger plan." But current figures on Ritalin use are
way beyond "small."
By the Numbers
Estimates on the number of children on Ritalin in the
U.S. vary widely. In a presentation at the National
Academy of Sciences, United Nations Foundation President
Timothy E. Wirth put the total at 1.5 million in the
U.S. "The number of children taking Ritalin for ADHD
has doubled every four to seven years since 1971," he
Dr. Lawrence H. Diller, a pediatrician and author of
the book Running on Ritalin, puts the figure
at around 5 million, up from 900,000 in 1990. "These
figures -- derived from the amount of medication prescribed
for ADD -- suggest a problem of epidemic proportions,"
he explains in his book.
The U.N. International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)
issued alarming statistics on Ritalin use in its 1995
Annual Report. "The worldwide use of methylphenidate
increased from less than three tons in 1990 to more
than 8.5 tons in 1994 and continued to rise in 1995,"
the report stated. "The global trend largely reflects
developments in the United States, which accounts for
approximately 90 percent of total world manufacture
and consumption of the substance."
The report suggested that between three and five percent
of all schoolchildren in the United States have been
diagnosed with ADHD and are being treated with methylphenidate.
The trend continued through the late 90s. By 1998,
the INCB estimated that treatment rates for ADHD in
some American schools was as high as 30 to 40 percent
per class, and children as young as one year were being
treated with methylphenidate. INCB was concerned that
such drugs were being prescribed "without heeding their
abuse and dependency potential."
"Ritalin may be the greatest drug problem we have in
this country,'' commented Rep. William Goodling, (R-Pennsylvania),
chairman of the House Committee on Education and the
"We do not know what the long-term effects are for
the child who takes Ritalin for ten or twenty years,"
added Rep. Michael Castle, (R-Delaware), chairman of
the subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families.
"I hear reports that students are selling Ritalin at
school and that schools are reporting thefts of Ritalin
under their control during the school day."
How Did We Get Here?
Pediatrician-author Diller says the sharp rise in Ritalin
use is like a canary in a coal mine. "When the bird
is overcome by low levels of gas in the shaft, the miners
know to get out, for a literal explosion may follow,"
he says in Running on Ritalin. "The surge in ADD diagnosis
and Ritalin treatment is a warning to society that we
are not meeting the needs of our children."
A number of youngsters today are labeled as ADHD when
they're simply exhibiting the normal range of childhood
behavior, explained professor of pediatrics, Carey.
For instance, there's the case of Steve, who visited
Carey last fall.
"[His] parents had been told by his preschool teacher
that he had ADHD and should be treated with Ritalin,"
Carey explained. "They wanted a second opinion. My review
of his behavior revealed clearly that he is not overactive,
not impulsive and not distractible.
"He does have a challenging temperament, which includes
traits of shyness, slow adaptability and not as sunny
a disposition as one might like. About ten percent of
normal children have this 'spirited,' challenging or
'difficult' behavioral style, which makes them hard
for adults to manage, but it does not fit the existing
criteria for ADHD and its presumed brain abnormality."
As Carey noted, professional training in education,
as well as medicine and psychology, "has generally not
included developing an appreciation of the wide range
of normal behavior, with the result that any traits
that a teacher or other caregiver does not like are
in danger of being labeled an abnormality suitable for
Congressman Castle made a similar observation during
Congressional hearings. "The symptoms of children with
ADD/ADHD can include inattention and restlessness --
which may simply be youthful rambunctiousness," he offered.
"Or it may be that the child is acting out in response
to serious stressors like divorce or neglect -- or it
may be that the child does have ADD/ADHD. The bottom
line is that it is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis
-- especially among young children -- unless the physician
makes a thorough evaluation of all aspects of the child's
Thoroughness of evaluation is one of the issues that
trouble some people.
A recent report in the journal Pediatrics pointed out
that among 401 primary care pediatricians and family
practice physicians with a study population of 22,000
children throughout the country, only about half obtained
school reports, and only 38 percent used the official
American Psychiatric Association criteria in arriving
at the ADHD diagnosis.
Criteria for Diagnosis
Another study published last year in the Journal of
the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
showed that prescribing methylphenidate to 4,500 children
in western North Carolina was, for the most part, not
supported by fulfilling the accepted APA criteria.
So what are the criteria? According to the APA Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders, a
child must meet at least six of nine criteria for inattention
and six of nine for hyperactivity-impulsivity to be
classified as ADHD. These symptoms include:
ˇ Often does not seem to listen when spoken to
ˇ Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
ˇ Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage
in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such
ˇ Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities
(toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
ˇ Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms
ˇ Often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations
in which remaining seated is expected
ˇ Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations
in which it is inappropriate
These symptoms must be present over a six-month period
and show up in a way that is "maladaptive and inconsistent
with development level," the DSM states. In addition,
some hyperactive, impulsive or inattentive symptoms
that cause impairment must be evident before age seven.
Symptoms should occur in at least two settings, like
home and school, and there must be "clear evidence of
clinically significant impairment in social, academic
or occupational functioning" as well as no connection
to another mental disorder.
Even though the criteria sound very thorough, what
child doesn't show at least some of these characteristics
some of the time? And exactly how often is "often"?
As Diller observes, "In the real world of medical practice,
ADHD remains a diagnosis very much 'in the eye of the
During his Texas testimony, Professor Carey pointed
out that "this crisis in diagnosis and management cannot
be resolved until the faulty diagnosis of ADHD is revised.
"Therefore, it is entirely appropriate for concerned
citizens and official bodiesto write to the
APA [and other professional psychiatric organizations]
to tell them that the diagnosis of ADHD, as presently
formulated, is too vague and cannot be applied with
a sufficient rigor at the practical level."
Where Do We Go From Here?
"[Ritalin] has become an easy 'quick fix,' a substitute
for a more adequate evaluation and appropriately individualized
management of the child in question," Carey told the
Carey thinks it will take several steps to get thinking
set straight on Ritalin. First, more education for parents
and teachers to understand normal behavior variation
in children; second, better testing, including psychiatric
exams; third, a better diagnostic tool; and last, greater
use of traditional educational techniques and less reliance
And what if someone suggests your child may have ADHD?
On his web site (docdiller.com), Pediatrician Diller
suggests the following steps:
Before investigating a "chemical imbalance" consider
a "living imbalance." Are the expectations for your
child's behavior and performance too high or are they
reasonable in the settings where he functions? Is his
performance all that much worse than other children?
If the problems are long standing, say more than three
months, consider speaking with a pediatrician or family
doctor. This physician should be familiar with your
child and be able to offer initial opinions, advice
and direction. "Be cautious, however, when after a 15
or 20 minute interview Ritalin is offered," Diller says.
"No evaluation that brief could possibly address the
numerous and complex factors involved in a child's behavior."
Remember, there are no definitive biological or psychological
tests for ADD. "Some people and doctors see ADD in virtually
every problem situation; others, including some doctors,
don't believe that ADD even exists," Diller observed.
If you go to an ADD specialist, like a child psychiatrist
or behavioral pediatrician, ask about his ideas and
beliefs regarding ADD and Ritalin. Investigate how they
arrive at a diagnosis and conclusion. "If you're not
comfortable with their approach, find someone else,"
A good ADD evaluation should address all areas of a
potential living imbalance. "Both parents should give
their versions of the problem to the evaluator," Diller
says. "Some doctors prefer to use written symptom questionnaires.
They are not a replacement for face to face talking
between the parents and evaluator or calling the teacher
on the telephone." If the doctor interviews your child,
this should include an assessment of the child's emotional
status, temperament and learning abilities. The doctor
should also meet the child's entire family at least
After possible emotional, family or school problems
have been evaluated and addressed, there may be a role
for a medication. "Ritalin or similar drugs have been
used safely in children for fifty years," Diller comments.
"No parent is immediately eager to start medicating
their child, but they should not feel guilty when, after
a thorough evaluation and multipartite treatment plan,
they decide to try Ritalin for their child."
Clem Boyd lives in Beavercreek, Ohio, with his wife
and two children.
Tips for Parents of Challenging Children
When I looked at
my daughter as a whole person, multifaceted and
unique, not merely as a hyper-annoyance, I started
focusing on the positives.
ˇ I became Melanie's biggest fan.
When she called herself stupid, I said, "I believe
in you. Just think, you're so special to God he
made only one you."
ˇ I let Melanie learn from failure.
When she wanted to give up, I said, "Remember
that success is just getting back up one more
time than you're knocked down."
ˇ I chose to define, not just react to
problems. When Melanie tried to manipulate
me into doing her work or talked back, I replied,
"Let me know when you are ready to talk to me
decently, and I'll help you."
ˇ I did the unexpected. I tucked
happy-faced love notes into Melanie's sack lunch
or filled an empty spot on her dresser with a
ˇ I made the consequences of irresponsibility
her problem. She recently told a girlfriend,
"Your mom washes your clothes? My mom made me
do mine when I was 12. She was real unhappy one
night when she caught me wiping up a mess with
the shirts she'd just washed."
Living with and loving my daughter challenges
me even today. But Melanie reminds me, "I'm doing
fine, Mom. I'm a good kid. It's my problem, remember?"
Raising Nonviolent Kids
by John Rosemond
According to a 1995 study published in the Archives
of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, the most rapid
rise in violence in the United States is taking place
among children. The tip of the iceberg consists of a
handful of very disturbed youngsters who commit violent
crimes heinous enough to generate national media attention,
but the larger problem is that the rate of child and
adolescent violence has increased more than threefold
Some chilling facts: Between 1982 and 1991, the juvenile
arrest rate for murder and assault increased 93 and
72 percent, respectively. Sibling conflict has become
more violent. Forty years ago, siblings fought mostly
with words, by refusing to share and by cheating during
games. These days, according to pediatrician reports,
it is not at all unusual for a sibling to physically
assault and even injure a brother or sister.
What was unheard of a generation or so ago-children
three and older hitting their parents-has become nearly
epidemic. In the 1950s and '60s, it was rare-extremely
rare-for a student to even threaten a teacher. In recent
years, teachers have been hit by children as young as
five. The rate of adolescent female violence is increasing
more rapidly than the rate of adolescent males.
Furthermore, the violence being done by children is
directed not just at other people, but also toward themselves.
Since 1960, the teen suicide rate has tripled, and for
every successful child/adolescent suicide there are
at least 50-100 suicide attempts.
Reversing the upward trend in child violence will require
more effective law enforcement, education and treatment,
but in the final analysis, no efforts can match those
taken by parents. What, then, can parents do?
Teach manners and morals. In Toward a Meaningful
Life: The Wisdom of the Rebbe (compiled and adapted
by Simon Jacobson), the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
says that a child's character education should take
priority over his academic education. In fact, the esteemed
rebbe says all other educational efforts are basically
meaningless unless built on a solid foundation of good
character, which is a matter of manners and morals.
My personal and professional experience has been that
the well-mannered child is more obedient, does better
in school and gets along far better with siblings and
friends-in short, is more well-adjusted and, therefore,
happier. Teaching manners requires modeling as well
as instruction-reminding, explaining, correcting and
rehearsing. The first manners a child should learn,
by his or her fourth birthday, are (in no particular
ˇ Saying "please," "thank you" and "you're welcome"
ˇ Saying "I'm sorry" when he has hurt or offended
ˇ Saying "excuse me" when appropriate.
ˇ Sharing toys and other possessions freely.
ˇ Saying "Yes, ma'am/sir" and "No, ma'am/sir"
when appropriate. (I'm betraying my Southern roots here.)
ˇ not interrupting adult conversations, even with
Teaching proper manners is an important prerequisite
to teaching proper morality, the essence of which is
knowing the difference between right and wrong. The
earlier this teaching begins, the better. Studies have
shown that a child who has not acquired a working understanding
of moral values by age seven or eight has considerably
increased chances for antisocial and at-risk behavior
Proper example and instruction from parents is crucial,
but the next most important influence seems to be that
of a faith community. Several recent studies all found
that children who regularly attend a church, synagogue
or mosque -- children who are therefore exposed to ongoing
moral instruction -- are far less likely to engage in
inappropriate behavior as teens. They are less apt to
abuse drugs or alcohol, engage in premarital sex, be
arrested or develop academic problems. And when they
become adults, they are more likely to enter into marriages
Be a family, a real family. In many of today's
families, after-school activities dominate everyone's
discretionary time. The parents never seem to have time
for themselves or their marriages, they frequently complain
of exhaustion and stress, and the entire family seems
to be in a constant state of "hurry-up-we-gotta-go."
I recommend no more than one activity per child at
any given time and no activities that interfere with
the family meal, which should be at home nearly every
evening. A parent may then ask, "But what if my child
has a lot of innate talent for, say, music, and I never
let him develop that talent?"
In the first place, if your child has a lot of musical
talent, he'll choose some musical program as his one
activity. Second, if he doesn't choose what you'd choose
for him, then he'll take his talents and put them into
some other area.
Here are a few guarantees: The fewer after-school activities
your children are engaged in, the more relaxed the family
unit will be. You'll eat more evening meals together,
and the kids will be better behaved. Studies show that
the more often a child eats dinner with his or her parents,
the less likely it is the child will develop behavior
or academic problems.
Here's yet another guarantee: Less focus on children,
combined with a generally more relaxed family atmosphere,
translates to a stronger marriage.
Be a dad, a real dad. While it has become politically
correct to downplay the role fathers play in child rearing,
David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American
Values and author of Fatherless America, has
found that, by and large, children reared by single
moms do not do as well on any measure as children raised
in two-parent families. But a father's mere presence
in his children's lives is not enough. To make a difference,
he must be actively involved.
Children who grow up with involved fathers tend to
be more self-confident, well-behaved and achievement-oriented.
The role of fathers becomes especially crucial during
the teen years. Studies show that teens with active
fathers are less prone to having problems with sex,
drugs or alcohol, and more likely to go to college.
As adults, they are more likely to enter successful
marriages and eventually become good parents themselves.
Discipline with plan and purpose. Over the last
30 or so years, mental health professionals have succeeded
at giving discipline -- especially the old-fashioned
kind -- a bad name. It damaged self-esteem, they said,
and high self-esteem is essential to good behavior and
high achievement. Turns out they were wrong. The latest
research says the most well-disciplined children are
also the most well-adjusted. Even spanking, long maligned,
is proving to have beneficial, if limited, effects.
Several studies show that parents who occasionally spank
are more likely to raise well-adjusted children than
parents who never spank. Furthermore, parental permissiveness,
it turns out, correlates highly with aggressive behavior
As for self-esteem, a landmark study conducted by psychologists
at Case Western Reserve University and the University
of Virginia found that people who score high on measures
of self-esteem are also highly prone to resorting to
violence when they feel they've been treated unfairly.
In fact, some of the highest self-esteem scores obtained
were from career criminals, gang members and spouse
Humility and modesty are timeless virtues that shore
up character, making for good citizenship and promoting
higher achievement. In fact, if everyone had slightly
"low" self-esteem, the world would be a more peaceful
Censor the media. By age five, the average couch
potato trainee is watching close to three hours of television
per day, more than 1,000 hours per year. She comes to
first grade having watched more than 4,000 hours of
television. In one survey of children ages four to six,
more than half stated they preferred watching TV to
spending time with their parents. The problem of children
and television is not simply one of excessive time spent
in front of the tube but the violence children are exposed
to in the process. Prime-time television programming
averages some five violent acts per hour, whereas children's
Saturday morning programs average from 20 to 25 violent
acts per hour.
Does watching televised violence predispose children
to violent behavior? Indeed, almost every study done
to date has found a strong relationship.
The problem may be even more pronounced where video
games are concerned. Two of the most outspoken critics
of video game violence are David Grossman and Gloria
DeGaetano, authors of Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill:
A Call to Action Against TV, Movie & Video Game
Violence. Grossman and DeGaetano say we are "raising
generations of children who learn at a very early age
to associate horrific violence with pleasure and excitement
-- a dangerous association for a civilized society."
Grossman and DeGaetano advocate a strict "no video game"
policy for children of all ages.
So, to my way of thinking, the keys to raising a child
who's not violence-prone are manners, morals, family,
fathers and parents who are as careful when it comes
to the media messages their children consume as they
are about the food their children eat. Nothing new here,
folks. It's responsible parenting of the sort that prevailed
not so long ago, when the words "children" and "violence"
were rarely found in the same sentence.
For more information on John Rosemond and his organization,
please visit his website at www.rosemond.com or call
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