Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sleep or ADHD

When children begin having problems in school it is easy to suspect ADHD. Children with this disorder have difficulty paying attention, keeping their bodies and emotions under control, and interacting with other children.  But ADHD is not the only thing that causes these struggles.

Many children with self-regulation issues do not have a brain problem – they have a sleep problem. Many children need more sleep than they are getting. Lack of sleep makes you irritable, interferes with social skills, and makes it very difficult to maintain the kind of focused attention that is needed for the amount of learning that happens in each school day. Children can’t drink more coffee and slide through a day tired. If they miss a skill it will show up in later testing or future learning. Not only that, but children who are sleep deprived are less likely to remember what is learned because their brains need time to process information.

School-aged children need 10-11 hours of sleep a night, younger children need even more. But even beyond that, other activities can wear down the brain making it harder to get control of focus, body, and emotions. 

Here are recommendations for helping your child to be a better learner. If  your child’s teacher has concerns  about focusing ability, try these suggestions before seeking an ADHD diagnosis. If your child already has an ADHD diagnosis the following will help support other therapies. Do stop medications without the guidance of a medical professional.

  • Do your best to see to it that your child gets the recommended amount of sleep. If you are not even close at this point, then make a plan to improve things. 
  • Reduce screen time, especially up to an hour before bedtime. This will help the brain to calm down. 
  • Encourage more time spent outside during the day. This will help to improve sleep at night.
  • Develop a bedtime routine that allows for comfort, calming down, conversation, and prayer.  This will tuck away the day and prepare the brain to process information learned.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Be Available

Technology has changed our world. It may be for the better; it may be for the worse. It is more likely a combination of both. My concern is that technology has also changed the parent/child relationship.

Even a minor change in how parents and children interact will have major, long-reaching consequences. 


Infants need to learn language very quickly and to do this they need many tiny interactions every day. A coo needs a response from a family member. A cry needs some form of attention. Pointing to an object requires a meeting of the minds. Babies need to have interaction many times a day in order to practice and form theories about communication.


Older children are learning about emotions, how to understand them and how to use them. They need many interactions with parents, siblings, and peers each day so they can learn this skill little bit by little bit. Children who spend too much time in front of a screen will not develop empathy and will struggle with the kind of thinking skills they need for learning. They may also struggle with peer relationships and with anxiety.


Even adolescents need interaction with parents and peers. They are learning about themselves in a new way and learning about important values that will guide their lives and decision processes. Adolescents who spend time with a screen instead of time with family and peers are at much higher risk of depression, suicide, and thoughts of suicide.


  • Set personal rules about "phone-in-pocket" when your children are present.
  • Set family rules that limit screen time and promote family talking times (car, dinner table, times of waiting, etc.)
  • And have those important conversations with your teens about putting face to face relationships before screen time. 


There is always time to learn about technology. NOW is the time to be a family!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Be still and Be Christmas

At this time of the year there is so much to compete with our celebration of the real Christmas. As parents we run ourselves ragged creating the perfect celebration with gifts, baking, visits, and daily antics for the elf on the shelf. It can be easy to forget why we celebrate. 

Here are several simple things to help you and your children celebrate the wonder of His birth.

If you have a nativity or crèche, use the pieces to tell your children the Christmas story. Tell them the story each day at supper or bedtime. Even preschool age children are old enough to begin to understand the story as it is told in Luke chapter 2. Let them become familiar with these words so they recognize them when they hear them in church.

Find an inexpensive nativity set and let them play with it as they learn to tell you the story.

After your children get good at telling the story of Jesus birth, send a video clip of them to relatives as a video Christmas card.

Sing a favorite Christmas hymn each time you ride in the car. Your children will soon become familiar with these precious songs.

Plan on Christmas worship, not just for the opportunity to wear fancy Christmas clothes, but to worship together as a family soaking up the story of Christ's birth.  Sit close to the front and whisper the story in your child’s ear as the service progresses. 

When we stop the season's busyness long enough to focus on the Christ Child we can teach our children an important faith lesson. No matter what the world does with Christmas we will focus on the precious little One who came to save us from our sins.

 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11