co-written by Irma Schutte
The noticeable change in the behaviour and performance of our school children is giving cause for concern. This change does not necessarily mean that children are less gifted than they used to be. There is no doubt that it arises largely from our changed environmental conditions, especially the ever increasing flood of stimuli to which they are exposed today.
These behavioural problems also spill back into their family lives. Anxiety, aggressiveness and opposition to any form of discipline are becoming more apparent in preschool children.
A study was carried out by Hamburg University Hospital on 2000 six year olds. More than 55% of these children, who were just starting school, suffered from nervous disorders, every fifth child had a poor appetite, and a further one in five suffered from disturbed sleep, pathological habits such as nail biting, pulling hair, and motor unrest with extreme restlessness. Against this background it is understandable that parents and teachers become desperate to help a child.
It needs to be said that many children end up with a diagnosis of inability to concentrate – or hyperactivity – when they are simply… being a child. All children will dream or talk too much at some stage in their development. When a child:
- Appears if he/she is not listening
- Appears as if their mind is elsewhere
- Fidget with hands or feet
- Interrupt or intrude on others
- Seem to be sleepy, drowsy or restless during learning situations
- Leave their seat in the classroom,
it should not automatically lead to an opinion which requires medication to modify this behaviour.
Given the guidance of a loving parent or teacher, a child will respond amazingly. They love to receive and give attention. However it is also true that many children grow up on a diet of refined foods, sugar and soft drinks. They are not given the foods that will allow their developing brain to prosper as it should.
Considering that the brain is a ferocious feeder as Alfred Vogel, Swiss Naturopath explains: “The brain uses up to 80% of available nutrients consumed on a daily basis, leaving very little for the rest of the body to cope with! The brain demands oxygen, glucose and water to function normally. A person who is not well hydrated or who is not eating regular meals will experience a reduced capability of concentration, memory and enthusiasm to learn new things.”
Hyperactivity and other nervous problems
It can therefore be easily understood that poor nutrition translates into all manner of problems :
- poor memory,
- short attention span,
- lack of energy,
- anxiety, etc.
The brain is a mass of nerve tissue that is the controlling and co-ordinating centre of the nervous system. The entire well being of the child’s ability to adjust and cope with new situations depends on the brain and its healthy functioning.
What you often see in children is the erratic communication from the brain to the hands, feet, eyes, ears and tongue. Incoherent speech, spacey thoughts and words, and an inability to complete tasks or to hear requests, all indicate that the brain and its messengers need help.
What you can do
Children need to eat a balanced diet of protein, unrefined grains, vegetables and fruits. Raw nuts and seeds are of equal importance as essential fatty acids found in them assist with the regulation of neuro-transmitters, the body’s own messenger system!
If a child remains stressed even after plenty of physical activities, consider Oats (Avena sativa), which are full of vitamin B and calming constituents, gently reducing physical and emotional pressure, while feeding the nervous system. The effects build up gradually. It can be taken long term and is excellent for hyperactive or over-stressed children.
Tips for a fantastic first school day:
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat a healthy breakfast.
- Make the day feel special by wearing an outfit you like.
- Try your best.
- Develop good work habits, like writing down your assignments and turning in your homework on time.
- Take your time with schoolwork. If you don’t understand something, ask the teacher.
- Take advantage of recess to move, run and jump around.
- Keep a sense of humour.
Remember school is full of fun and discovery!