Sunday, February 25, 2018

Be a Good Model

Your body might tell you that you are what you eat, but your brain will tell you that you are what you experience.

The baby in this clip is a good example of the brain seeking to model what it experiences. Eventually, assuming the baby does not experience other humans routinely howling, he will stop mimicking dogs in favor of following the actions of family members. His brain creates a temporary “howling” neural connection that is later re-purposed for something more useful.

This clip reminds us as parents to occasionally take time to examine what our children see in us each day that they might be creating neural connections for. What children see and experience is what their brain will prioritize for learning.

Do our children see us making healthy food choices or sneaking snacks?

Do they see us physically active or on our phone?

Do they see us coping with sadness and anger or allowing ourselves to vent?

Do they see us learning from mistakes or hiding them?

Do they see us complaining or working to make things better?

Do they see us including faith in every aspect of our lives, or saving it for Sundays?

We do not need to be perfect parents. Our children learn good things from us when we make mistakes, apologize, and try again. In fact, sometimes the most enduring lesson is learned when a parent makes a mistake and seeks to learn from the mistake. In this action you are teaching resilience.

The best things to model for your children are acts of faith: mercy, forgiveness, worship, the seeking of God’s word, and unconditional love.

Therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve on another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. I Peter 4: 7b-10a.

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.