But Ritalin is not a perfect solution by any means. It's apparently been banned in Russia, and the number of people in the West speaking out about the dangers of drugging our children is growing steadily.
The following is from a website called 'toxicpsychiatry', which is run by a group of psychiatrist MDs who are trying to educate people that drugs are not the panacea the drug companies make them out to be.
" The scientific literature shows that 50% or more of children when given Ritalin, Focalin, Dexedrine, Adderall and other stimulants will become obviously depressed, lethargic, weepy--but more manageable. Moreover, it's been proven time and again that the stimulants stunt their growth. In addition, studies show that stimulants will permanently change their brain chemistry, cause shrinkage of brain tissue, predispose children to cocaine addiction in young adulthood, stigmatize them with a false diagnosis, and push them toward becoming permanent consumers of psychiatric drugs."
But what is a desperate parent to do, when they're being strong-armed by the school to stick their kid on Ritalin, or else? The first answer is 'pray, and ask G-d to help you'. (That's always the first answer.)
Then after that, there are a growing number of gentle 'alternative' things to try that could really solve the problem, with G-d's help.
Let's start with the stuff that will make the biggest difference, but is probably the hardest to implement, and the hardest to keep doing over time: cut out the junk food, especially the E numbers, the sugar, and the food colouring. A growing number of studies have shown that eating healthy has an enormous impact on a child's ability to sit still and concentrate.
The next thing (which is still really hard…) is try to limit the time they are in front of a computer screen. As Rav Arush explains in detail in his new English book, 'The Garden of Healing', computer games, videos and internet - with it's fast-paced scene changes and constant 'action' - train the brain to need constant stimulation. Once a child is hooked on action, they'll need it in school, too. Rav Arush explains that these kids can't sit still, as they need constant stimulation. If they're expected to look at a stationary black board, or listen to a boring teacher drone on, they'll feel impelled to get their 'action' by moving around all the time.
I know, I know. You know both these things would make a big difference, but the chances of you having the time or energy to implement them is pretty small, right? Don't despair! Rav Arush teaches that a person's desire counts for everything. Even if you can't chuck out your internet just yet, deep down, I know you really want to.
So let's look at some other things you can try that, with G-d's help and a lot of prayer, can also keep your child calm.
First, essential oils. Some good ones to try (once you've learned about how to use them safely, and how to dilute them appropriately) include:
- Frankincense - very calming
- Sweet Marjoram - very, very, calming(but exercise caution if your child has asthma)
- Lavender - instantly de-stresses the nervous system
- Tea Tree - a mental stimulant that aids concentration in classroom. It's got a strong smell, but can be safely used on skin in very high dilutions, so very good for children
- Peppermint - children love the smell of this, which is also a mental stimulant, but try to avoid using it on the skin, as it's a skin irritant unless very highly diluted. Try putting a couple of drops on a tissue for them to sniff, in class.
Let your child sniff an oil before using it (not straight from the bottle - put a drop on a tissue), and if they don't like the smell, don't use it. The body actually knows what it needs, and this 'sniff test' is one way it can tell us. Also, don't overdo it. Less is always more with essential oils, especially with children. Educate yourself about how to use them safely, before you start to experiment.
The next thing to try is some energy exercises that go to work straight on the nervous system, to get the agitation out of the kid's system.
If your child has 'hyperactive legs' get them to lie down on their front, and to 'scissor' their legs behind them, crossing their legs at the ankles, uncrossing, re-crossing them, as many times as they want. As well as encouraging the energy to cross over from one side of the body to the other, it also helps align the brain, nervous system, hips and spine.
Next, try the energy medicine exercise called The Brazilian Toe Technique, that i wrote about a couple of days' ago.
Next, spend a couple of minutes every morning and every night, holding your child's neurovascular points, on their forehead. This is particularly good to do if they're actively experiencing overwhelm or freaking out, as it can defuse the emotional overload really fast. If your child feels like talking, ask them about their day. If not, don't force it. Simply holding the neurovasculars will help them feel much more secure, loved and calm.
Lastly, try the 5 minute energy routine, especially massaging K-27, marching in place, doing the Wayne Cook posture, and the 'Giving it back to G-d' exercise. (Watch the video from the post I did a little while back).
There are other things you can try, too, which we'll come back to another time. But remember that a little bit of your prayer, your love and your attention will work wonders with your ADHD kid, whatever else you manage to do with them.