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June 7, 2018

12 Comments

There is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels – our children.

Victoria Prooday shares on her blog that through her work with hundreds of children and families as an occupational therapist, she has witnessed the tragedy unfolding right in front of her eyes.

“Our children are in a devastating emotional state!”

“Talk to teachers and professionals who have been working in the field for the last 15 years. You will hear concerns similar to mine.

Moreover, in the past 15 years, researchers have been releasing alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in kids’ mental illness, which is now reaching epidemic proportions:

  • 1 in 5 children has mental health problems
  • 43% increase in ADHD
  • 37% increase in teen depression
  • 100% increase in suicide rate in kids 10-14 years old

How much more evidence do we need before we wake up?

No, “increased diagnostics alone” is not the answer!

No, “they all are just born like this” is not the answer!

No, “it is all the school system’s fault” is not the answer!

Yes, as painful as it can be to admit, in many cases, WE, parents, are the answer to many of our kids’ struggles!

It is scientifically proven that the brain has the capacity to rewire itself through the environment. Unfortunately, with the environment and parenting styles that we are providing to our children, we are rewiring their brains in a wrong direction and contributing to their challenges in everyday life.

Yes, there are and always have been children who are born with disabilities and despite their parents’ best efforts to provide them with a well-balanced environment and parenting, their children continue to struggle. These are NOT the children I am talking about here.

I am talking about many others whose challenges are greatly shaped by the environmental factors that parents, with their greatest intentions, provide to their children. As I have seen in my practice, the moment parents change their perspective on parenting, these children change.

What is wrong?

Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as:

  • Emotionally available parents
  • Clearly defined limits and guidance
  • Responsibilities
  • Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
  • Movement and outdoors
  • Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom

Instead, children are being served with:

  • Digitally distracted parents
  • Indulgent parents who let kids “Rule the world”
  • Sense of entitlement rather than responsibility
  • Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
  • Sedentary indoor lifestyle
  • Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments

Could anyone imagine that it is possible to raise a healthy generation in such an unhealthy environment? Of course not! There are no shortcuts to parenting, and we can’t trick human nature. As we see, the outcomes are devastating. Our children pay for the loss of well-balanced childhood with their emotional well-being.

How to fix it?

If we want our children to grow into happy and healthy individuals, we have to wake up and go back to the basics. It is still possible! I know this because hundreds of my clients see positive changes in their kids’ emotional state within weeks (and in some cases, even days) of implementing these recommendations:

Set limits and remember that you are your child’s PARENT, not a friend

Offer kids well-balanced lifestyle filled with what kids NEED, not just what they WANT. Don’t be afraid to say “No!” to your kids if what they want is not what they need.

  • Provide nutritious food and limits snacks.
  • Spend one hour a day in green space: biking, hiking, fishing, watching birds/insects
  • Have a daily technology-free family dinner.
  • Play one board game a day. (List of family games)
  • Involve your child in one chore a day (folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table etc)
  • Implement consistent sleep routine to ensure that your child gets lots of sleep in a technology-free bedroom

Teach responsibility and independence. Don’t over-protect them from small failures. It trains them the skills needed to overcome greater life’s challenges:

  • Don’t pack your child’s backpack,
  • don’t carry her backpack,
  • don’t bring to school his forgotten lunch box/agenda,
  • and don’t peel a banana for a 5-year-old child.
  • Teach them the skills rather than do it for them.

Teach delayed gratification and provide opportunities for “boredom” as boredom is the time when creativity awakens:

  • Don’t feel responsible for being your child’s entertainment crew.
  • Do not use technology as a cure for boredom.
  • Avoid using technology during meals, in cars, restaurants, malls. Use these moments as opportunities to train their brains to function under “boredom”
  • Help them create a “boredom first aid kit” with activity ideas for “I am bored” times.

Be emotionally available to connect with kids and teach them self-regulation and social skills:

  • Turn off your phones until kids are in bed to avoid digital distraction.
  • Become your child’s emotional coach. Teach them to recognize and deal with frustration and anger.
  • Teach greeting, turn taking, sharing, empathy, table manners, conversation skills,
  • Connect emotionally – Smile, hug, kiss, tickle, read, dance, jump, or crawl with your child.

We must make changes in our kids’ lives before this entire generation of children will be medicated! It is not too late yet, but soon it will be… -Victoria Prooday

This post originally appeared on Victoria Prooday’s website and has been shared with full permission.

Victoria Prooday is a registered Occupational Therapist, Psychotherapist, founder and clinical director of a multidisciplinary clinic for children and parents. Victoria is an internationally-known educator, motivational speaker and a popular blogger on modern-day parenting and high-tech lifestyle’s impact on a child nervous system.

Share your comments below

  • This is a very moving article as i am afraid of this happening to my young 9 year old sister, she is very immersed in technology and doesnt spend quality time outdoors or with other children. Im afraid of how this will affect her in her teens. I will talk with my mother on some of the things suggested to improve her mental wellbeing. I try to spend as much time as i can with her but im 14 years older living my own life. very good article that every parent needs to read.

    Reply

  • Thank you for this article on our children these days.. My daughter has ADHD, odd, and clinical anxiety so I have many of these steps in progress but it’s great to hear from other people and take in everyone’s advice. There are so many strategies to help our kids suffering from these conditions and it’s very relieving for me to hear that I am not the only mum in this predicament.
    Thank you

    Reply

  • Common sense really – if you want a child then let it know you want it from day one. Talk to it, smile at it, make it the centre of the universe and ditch the phone.

    Reply

  • People today are far to busy to really see what there child/ children are struggling with and they are Not there for there kids you observe this every day and its sad people should sit down for at least an hour a day and ask there child about there day at kinder / school make time for your kids before it’s too late and there gone suicide is far too common for our kids these days so get off your bums all you mum’s and dads a pay attention to your children

    Reply

  • the suicide rate to me is very frightening as a parent with one child in that age rate. Thank you for this article, I will be working on engaging more with my older child to help her if/when she needs me.

    Reply

  • Good read. There was a lot of great points there and can see how a lot of kids are so poorly behaved. Definitely some good tips to implement into our routine.

    Reply

  • Good read !

    Reply

  • I agree with a large portion of this, but not all of it is practical. Plus, to point out, those of us in our early 30s or older had the experiences listed and many of us still have mental health issues. I’m saying that even if a parent needs to take a work call while kids are home or maybe there is no time with all the extra activities to play a board game – parents shouldn’t beat themselves up because mental health can be unpredictable and following this “guide” to the letter will not guarantee a barrier.

    Reply

  • I can see this development too. All one has to do is look at people’s facebook pages and you will see hundreds of selfies which indicates to me a real need for validation. It is very sad.

    Reply

  • I think that life is so much busier for our children these days and the pressure is stronger so they find it harder to cope.

    Reply

  • Are these incidents reall increasing or are we just more aware of them and notice them more

    Reply

  • I agree with parents being available and not being distracted by technology. I was at a lunch recently and our table was the only one with phones in bags! Talk with children, with adults, with friends and with family.

    Reply

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