What do you do with a child who is passively defiant, perhaps obnoxious at times, and increasingly dismissive of parental authority?
Normally, the idea is to do something to change them, modify their behavior, or just kinda deal with each week as it comes. In some instances, with the supervision, guidance and direction of a doctor, like a psychiatrist, a child's parents may see their young child now be able to sit still longer, be more focused, and appear to show a very observable increase in another executive function skill, the ability to sustain attention.
A pharmaceutical medication can be a 'bridge' to help the child maybe focus on enhancing their ability to better self-manage themselves in a more goal-directed manner. n essence, be 'more' focused. This helps the child to be able to sustain their attention for a longer duration on a sequence of tasks. Rather quickly, the child (or adult for that matter) eventually understands quite intuitively that the 'source' of the conditioning is leading them to have these 'super focusing and sustaining attention abilities.' In addition, and more importantly to the child, he/ she may notice that the parents are more satisfied with the present situation. Perhaps the parents, who are now getting 'respite,' realize the shift in the behavioral dynamics and declare victory. Life continues. Problem solved!
But if the strengthening tool used to increase focus and sustaining attention does not come from within oneself, but from outside oneself, then that ability receives conditioning and toning strictly from that outside source.
A possible loophole that is closer to being more ethical is the use of a pharmaceutical that modifies the child/ adults behavior with a focus on using that time to help the child strengthen their abilities, and establish a clear, emotional-coping skill system AND have a pharmaceutical phase-down plan. If a phase-down plan with accountability benchmarks is not created and established on ink & paper then you have to ask yourself where the ship is sailing to. Using an outside agent to change a person from the outside in is... unethical, immoral, and um, does not work over the long term.
You can't use outside muscle to get strong muscles on the inside, duh..! You have to work with what you've got and build on that.
To taint matters further, taking medications to rectify behavioral and/ or academic-related deficits is not always based on the professional expertise and understanding of the doctor. As can be clearly seen by today's news on Big Pharmaceutical drug and vaccine maker Glaxo Smith Kline, bribing doctors to use their drugs loyally is a standard policy. To give them negative credit, they get negative points for announcing this week that they say they are now stopping with their practice of bribery. They are currently in legal trouble over in China where they have gotten caught giving bribes and perks to doctors. Worse off, they have also gotten caught giving bonuses and benefits to pharmaceutical sales people who directly work with the doctors. The goal being to drive up sales, and increase the network of doctors. So medical decisions are biased in each and every case where their is a doctor who plays this game. They have been morally-compromised. The overwhelming push by bribed doctors to prescribe medications at a faster clip is a silent policy that influences a great many, certainly not all, but a great many doctors. All this, before you walk into the doctor's office to talk about your child who's behavior has gotten way too unruly. (I will spare you the information on the medication-induced medical side-effects that create atrophy in a developing mind, brain, and physical heart. )
Trying Something Different...
But how about a large moving-forward parent plan that is built on a platform of small measures? Small measures that can be 'exercised' on a daily basis.
As described in past posts, some of these small measures are: teaching self-management coping tools/ strategies to your kids, sharing meals together as a family, bringing the family into a continuous state of gratitude and thankfulness at meal time/ bed time via praying in thanksgiving for the blessings, opportunities and helps the family does have and has had directly from God.
The manifestation of contentment is a daily road of success that needs to be walked by Mommy and Daddy first. A one-second metacognitive slide into contentment can be generated by literally counting one's blessings. Doing so throughout the day calms the blood-pumping heart and releases regulatory hormones.*
This role-modeling, or pro-active role-play hypothetically-speaking, may have the parents displaying across time a set of parameters and benchmark behavioral actions and rules, and initiatives that can catch and overwhelm a child faster, and much more effectively than taking a pharmaceutical.
Try this at home tonight:
Directions: Read the below parental benchmark tasks that parents must complete within full view of the child, or children.
1. Show an impenetrable united parental front. Throughout family time, watch your paraverbal skills like a hawk, (how you say what you say). Go out of your way to show exemplary manners to your spouse that convey and emit a desire to honor and reverence each other. Add not a teaspoon, but a cup of lovingkindness of this. Do at least 1-4 displays of loving affection from parent to parent every day in front of the children while at home. Keep it G-rated, but don't be boring. Try to keep how you show this affection as novel as possible. Show the kids that you really love and admire your spouse ..big time. Don't spend any money to do this.
2. Use the 'growth-oriented mindset' (praise the process, not the end result) to overwhelm and throw-off your child's routine behavioral modes. What to do: Use laser-guided praises that put the focus on life skills both parents value by using impromptu point systems on the spot. If you value emotional control, patience, acts of lovingkindness, problem solving, 'stick-to-itiveness' which is sustaining attention & goal-directed persistence) then tell your child those words in a age-appropriate manner. What other life skills do you value?
For example, "I just love how you sat down and stayed their doing all your work. Being still and focused is tough, and that shows you have great self-control. Awesome job. Daddy is so proud of his princess/ prince. You get 1 out of 5 points for that, and another bonus point because Mommy/ Daddy is so happy with you." ( 5 pts can get you an extra trip to the park, a special outing that is viewed as a reward by the child, a scoop of ice cream, or cookie baking time after dinner). Give points responsibly. Don't get outlandish with rewards. It is about behavior modification, not rewards.
The growth-oriented mindset can be viewed as a metacognitive mindset parameter perspective that focuses our parent/ instructor feedback on the process, not the end result. Parents don't let themselves get hung up on attributing greater value to the end result, regardless of performance during the process. Adherence to it greatly increases successful outcomes on a short and long-term basis and strengthens the children from the inside out, rather than the outside in. Parents too will notice how they themselves learn and become better parents in the process too. It works both ways.
Try increasing the dial on this in a consistent manner and your child's/ student unruly behavior will not have a confrontational energy source to justify itself. Overwhelmed in a sea of firm, but loving and kind parenting, the child's responses literally gets rewired to achieve the new homeostasis benchmarks established and firmly held in place on a daily basis by the pro-active parents.
*Breakthrough Findings on the power of prayer and meditation from science:
Prayer can be viewed as one of the ultimate activities of the frontal lobes of the cerebrum. (Nedley, Neil, MD. Proof Positive. P 280. OK:Nedley, 1998, 1999.)
Studies at Emory University in Atlanta Georgia: Zen meditation may involve an ability to switch off the brain’s “default network.” This recently discovered brain system is very active during wakeful rest and appears to switch off in the presence of demanding cognitive tasks. (Pagnoni, Guiseppe, et al. “Thinking about Not-Thinking:” Neural Correlates of Conceptual Processing during Zen Meditation. PLoS ONE, vol 3.)
Meditation and prayer are excellent brain-power boosters as they battle stress (e.g., promote synchronized brain rhythms and reduce stress hormone levels). They give you some control over the way in which your brain ages. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD., with Teresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. P 236. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)
Different types of meditation and prayer affect different parts of the brain differently. Each appears to beneficially impact neurological function, physical, and emotional health (e.g., can increase blood flow to frontal, parietal, temporal, and limbic areas; can decrease metabolic activity; may trigger deafferentation). (Newberg, Andrew, MD, and Mark Robert Waldman. How God Changes Your Brain—Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist. P 63. NY:Ballantine Books, 2009.)