Friday, October 27, 2006

A Link Between Poor Sleep and ADHD?

A Link Between Poor Sleep and ADHD? If your child has poor impulse control, consider whether sleep deprivation may be part of the problem. In his book, What Causes ADHD?, Dr. Joel Nigg compares the symptoms of ADHD to those of inadequate sleep. There is a striking similarity between the effects of sleep deprivation and the symptoms of ADHD. Kids who are over tired are hyperactive, irritable and impulsive. They can also suffer problems with learning and memory. All this being said, getting an at risk child to sleep is easier said than done.

It seems that the more over tired a child is, the more he resists going to sleep. Children require 9-10 hours of sleep each night. This means that children require more sleep than their parents and so have to go to bed earlier! The bad news is that many young children do require a parent’s help with going to sleep. If this is your situation, take comfort in knowing that many other parents (including me) share your nightly struggles.

As Dr. Sears points out in his article (see children that are raised to have a strong bond with their parents often have trouble going to sleep on their own. I agree with his statement that children who are trained to be alone may have an easier time going to sleep. However, we do not want to train our at risk kids to be alone. We want them to enjoy being with us so much that at times they do dislike separating to go to bed. The only solution is the one Dr. Sears also suggests. Keep your son or daughter company for a while as he/she falls asleep. Read to your child at bedtime and try to develop a good nightly routine so your child knows what to expect. Teach him with your words about the importance of a good nights sleep. Tell him what time he is expected to go to sleep and enforce his bedtime consistently.

Take comfort in knowing that there are very few 16 year olds who still require a parent’s help to fall asleep. Try to enjoy the precious few years you have to nurture your child and teach him to love.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Importance of Physical and Verbal Affection

The expression, "Have you hugged your child today?" became a cliche. It is also a rather shallow question, as if one hug sums up what parents are supposed to do with their kids.

Just how important is affection? There are seven things that are primary sources of pleasure for people. Affection is one of those primary sources of pleasure. For a person, child or adult, to have well-being, affection has to be the most important source of pleasure. Training a child to enjoy affection, definitely requires more than one hug a day!

Studies show that when infants and toddlers receive more physical affection, they develop better impulse control. Want to immunize your child against the terrible two's and ADHD? Make sure you hold him often. Physical affection also reduces stress in children. Stress is one of the causes of childhood mental disorders such as depression, ODD and ADHD.

Verbal and physical affection enable a child to learn morality. When loving parents teach morality and impulse control children listen. Physical affection turns children into sponges ready to absorb the lessons parents teach.Teens also need hugs and praise.

How do you know if you are giving your child enough physical and verbal affection. Babies should be carried in a front carrier as much as possible. Don't just keep your baby in an infant seat! Children who can walk, should be held on the lap for at least half an hour a day. This can be broken up into smaller chunks of time. Hold your child while you read to him, or while you are resting together. Hug and kiss your child when you first see him after a separation. Older children also need to play wrestle with their parents. Chase him around and tickle him. I use physical affection to distract my four year old away from mischief and domineering behavior. I say in jest, "I guess I'll have to hold you upside down and tickle you then!" He quickly forgets what he was up to.

You can reduce domineering strong-willed behavior in children by using affection. See The dominance drive is reduced by affection. Start by complementing your child on something good you see in him. Let this verbal reward be a starting point for 15-30 minutes of quality time with him each day. After several weeks of this daily habit, you will notice a decline in his domineering behavior.