Child Health

Parental Attention and ADHD

Attention and ADHD
A father was wheeling a baby carriage with one hand and text-messaging with his other hand. Totally absorbed in his smartphone, he didn't hear the pleas of his 5-year old walking alongside, "Daddy, I'm cold!" A sudden strong wind blew in from the southwest, carrying heavy rain clouds and reducing temperatures suddenly. It now started raining. The little boy was screaming, "Daddy, I'm wet!" Heaven forbid that daddy should put down his idolPhone VI. Instead, he let go of the carriage, and with his free hand, he angrily pulled out a child's parka from the baby carriage tote-bag and slapped it on the little boy. Were it not for Hashem, the baby carriage could have easily rolled into the street...

Don't be surprised if down the road, in a few short years, the little boy and his baby brother or sister will be sent home from school with notes from the school psychologist that they have ADHD and must now take Ritalin.

In my experience of counseling parents on child-rearing issues, I've found a strong correlation between kids diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and lack of attention at home. Lack of attention is not a genetic disorder; it's the result of parents with skewed priorities. You don't have to be a PhD in psychology to know that a lack of attention leads to an attention deficit...

In quite a few cases pertaining to their children, parents asked for my opinion after school counselors and educational psychologists had not only prescribed Ritalin, but stipulated that the child's continued attendance at their school was contingent upon his taking the drug every day. I asked parents to delay the use of the drug while first planning a program of maximum parental one-on-one quality time. Each program was tailor-made for the particular parent and child.

The results, with Hashem's loving grace, have been superb. In general, I urge parents to invest "one-on-one" time, where the the parent gives total attention to the so-called ADHD child, with no other siblings around. For example, a father takes the son on a hike in the woods for 2 or 3 hours, once a week, and together they learn about trees, rocks, and birds while also doing personal prayer together. A mother might take her daughter for a lengthy exercise walk & talk, or they might shop together or bake bread together. The one-on-one quality time with a parent calms a child, elevates his self-image, and does wonders for his inner joy, which is ever so important in enhancing the child's attention span and thought process.

In other cases, I've seen schools who are especially trigger happy with Ritalin; as a result, I suggested that the parents transfer the children elsewhere. In several cases, I even recommended homeschooling.

By implementing the above advise in a systematic and persevering manner, many parents have rendered the use of Ritalin superfluous. Sure, many other parents protest that they lack the time to invest in their children. Priorities, folks... In the end, they ending up wasting more time running to school counselors, doctors and psychologists, not to mention the money involved either.

One of our readers sent me the following poignant anecdote to bring the point home:

A 5-year-old boy asked his Daddy one day, “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”

His father was quite peeved and said, “What business is it of yours?” The little boy persisted, so in the end, the father said, “Well, if you must know, I make $25 an hour”.

“In that case,” said the little boy, “can I have $9?”

The father was furious. He told the little boy to go and sit quietly in his room. Eventually he calmed down, and thought to himself, 'well, maybe my son had a good reason to ask for $9, because he doesn’t ask me for money often'. So he went to see his son, and told him, “Perhaps I was too hard on you earlier, and I am going to give you that $9”. When he gave it to him, he saw his son take a number of bills from under his pillow, and add the $9 to it. The father was surprised. “If you had all that money already”, he said, “why did you ask me for more?”

“Well”, said the boy, “ I did not have enough money before. But now I do. Can I buy an hour of your time?” Ouch...

Think about it. Our children are precious little souls that the Almighty has entrusted in our care. They deserve our love and undivided attention; they don't deserve to be second-fiddle to a cursed smartphone, especially when they have to pay the price of ADHD and Ritalin.