So often we find ourselves making decisions and trying treatments that do not bring the hoped-for result when trying to help our children overcome their learning, behavior or mood challenges. In many instances this disappointment is due to the fact that we started off with outdated information which caused us to ask the wrong questions and look in the wrong places for answers. In other words, what we were thinking and believing was a myth. So let’s start with a quick quiz which will reveal if you are holding onto a myth about the learning, mood and behavior challenges that children face.
Your child/student, Mark, is having trouble paying attention and sitting still. He is clearly a bright child but he is underachieving. He is disruptive in school and at home. It does not take much for him to have a meltdown or to have a temper tantrum. Other children are having trouble relating to him because of his poor social cues.
You believe that:
(a) His lack of attention is connected to something going on in the brain.
(b) His mood and behavior issues have a psychological basis.
(c) The child should see a specialist such as a neurologist, and/or a psychologist and/or a psychiatrist.
(d) These learning, mood and behavior issues are symptoms of stress and it is the stress that should be identified and treated and not the learning, behavior and mood problems.
If you said ‘yes’ to a, b or c, you are still stuck with a myth, which is that learning, behavior and mood issues are disorders of the brain and/or have a psychological basis. If you believe this you have not yet caught up with what is happening in the medical and psychological world today. The correct answer is (d). The new reality in the 21st century is that, in most cases, stress is the actual disorder and learning, mood and behavior problems are the symptoms. Treat the stress and the symptoms will significantly decrease or go away.
The Myth: Learning, behavior and mood issues are disorders of the brain.
So while we continue to belief this, we will behave in ways that endanger our children’s health because this myth has caused us to be in denial about the fact that stress is the most dangerous, underplayed and under-treated disease in children today. If we believe this myth we will be speaking to the wrong doctors, looking in the wrong places for answers, trying the wrong treatments – and not dealing with the fact that it is the untreated stress that is causing the child’s spirit and body to be unable to function in the best way possible.
Thousands upon thousands of moms and dads are running around visiting all kinds of specialists in their attempt to find answers to their children’s challenges. This is costly in terms of time, money and energy and is made worse by the fact that these specialists are working in a compartmentalized way, seeing only the diseases that they are trained to see. The traditional neurologist, for example, is unlikely to say, ‘Let’s first explore if there are any signs of physical and emotional stress. If they did, in many cases they may discover, for example, that the child has gut issues and that this is directly affecting the way the child learns, feels and behaves. The traditional psychologist is unlikely to check if the child has food allergies or vitamin deficiencies or inflammation. And yet, research now shows that so many neurological and psychological issues are related to gut issues and that gut issues are related to stress.
So, if you have been stuck with this myth, your task is to abandon it and Take Charge! of your child’s challenges in a very different kind of way, using the latest research and information.
Begin by knowing how to identify a professional person who is most likely to significantly improve your child’s life. You are looking for a healthcare practitioner who practices a comprehensive approach to learning, mood and behavior issues.
Ask the healthcare practitioner 5 questions. If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, this could be the right person for you and your child.
- Do you believe that my child’s challenges could be stress-related?
- Will you be exploring the possibility of stress-related malfunctions in my child’s body and spirit?
- How do you do this? What diagnostic tools will you be using? (You will need to be informed in order to assess the practitioner’s answer to question 3.)
- Will your treatment plan integrate a treatment plan for both the body and the spirit of my child?
- Will you use drugs as an absolute last resort?
It is important to read, read, read about the newest thinking and practices in the kind of challenge your child faces. You need to be educated and informed in order to Take Charge! and have this kind of conversation with your child’s practitioner.
We will explore more myths in the blogs that follow. Getting rid of this myth – learning, behavior and mood issues are disorders of the brain – is a great place to start.