Back to School: Time to Relearn Your Child (Exploring The Biochemistry of Learning and Mental Conditions in Children)
I’ll be frank: the word “ready” makes me chuckle when it comes to “back to school” season. As parents, like me, begin re-integrating our children into “school mode,” the only thing we can really be “ready” for is being caught off guard. Children are complex humans whose brains and biochemistries need continual attention as it relates to their physical and mental health. We can’t assume we have them figured out – who our child was last year is not necessarily the same person he or she is this year: psychologically, behaviorally, physically or chemically. At Mensah Medical, we believe in continual measurement and progress-tracking of children on our protocols for conditions like ADD/ADHD, Autism, Eating Disorders and more. Having counseled many families and successfully treating thousands of children experiencing biochemical imabalances that lead to behavioral and psychological challenges, I’d like to share some insights on why it’s more important to be mindful than “ready” when it comes to the school transition.
When your 9-year old is “livin’ la vida loca”
Yes, the Ricky Martin classic, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” comes to mind when I reflect on my 9-year old daughter’s summer routine. Like many parents, I’ve allowed my child to stay up later, indulge in ice cream much more often, and have unrestricted play time because, “hey, it’s the summer”. As our family prepares her for the much more structured lifestyle and environment of regular 4th grade life, I am mindful of what the changes will mean for her on various levels.
Psychologically – Is the child excited, afraid, or neutral about starting a new grade?
Behaviorally – What new expectations will the next level of school place on your child? Will the transition require more structure and rigid behavior? Or, more flexible?
Physically – Is the child resting and exercising enough to support their mental and emotional wellness? How might their diet need to change to support their emotional and physical well-being?
Chemically – In what ways can the child’s emotional, environmental and physiologic stress impact them on a deep biochemical level? Also, in what ways does their chemistry increase the negative impact of external stressors?
Psychological concerns of children – What are my child’s fears?
Not to date myself, but I come from a generation in which the most concerned response a parent could give a child undergoing emotional distress was: “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” Let me be frank – this distant, “tough love” approach will not suffice for children experiencing real and severe inner tension in the 21st century. Bullying is an increasing problem in our schools, which can wreak extreme havoc on a child who is already biochemically predisposed to conditions like depression or anxiety.
According to the anti-bullying institute:
- 1 in 7 students in grades K – 12 are either a bully or have been a victim of bullying.
- An estimated 160,000 U.S. children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students.
- 83% of girls and 79% of boys report experiencing harassment.
- Six out of 10 teenagers say they witness bullying in school once a day.
- 35% of kids have been threatened online.
Discussing their back to school stress, a parent friend told me: “My daughter is actually more concerned about the school transition than I am. She’s scared that the students won’t like her or will be mean to her.” When a child shares such a concern, I encourage parents to dialogue with their child. An open conversation is important in such cases because, as I’ve mentioned, we can’t assume that we know our child inside and out – they are the most beautiful extensions of ourselves, but they have unique needs and experiences in terms of their chemical makeup and comportment.
Parents can be mindful of their child’s evolving concerns and needs by asking questions that explore the child’s mental focus. For example, I recommend asking your child questions like: “School is going to be starting, is there anything that is bothering you?” When you talk to your child, ask yourself how you are supporting them emotionally.
These “emotional check-ins” with your children do not necessarily require a serious tone. It’s amazing to explore the mind of an 8 or 9-year-old and how their approach to problem-solving and past challenges changes over time. It can prove to be a most gratifying experience to speak with children.
Given all the concerns I’ve discussed, it is clear that re-adjusting to the new school year can be stressful for both the child and, in some cases even more so, for the parent. In cases of unusual and unmanageable stress, we recommend “Stress Dosing”. Stress dosing is the process of systematically increasing the amount of specific protocol elements of treatment prescribed to the patient for a short period of time. If both the child and parent are on Mensah Medical treatment protocols, we recommend stress dosing for both individuals.
Stress dosing differs from individual to individual; in the same way we customize all our natural, drug-free treatments, we customize our stress dosing protocols. In certain instances, patients with heightened anxiety may not need a revision of their dosing prescription, but the temporary addition of supplements like inositol or Gaba. We recommend these specific solutions based on an assessment of the issue that has heightened the patient’s stress and their unique biochemistry.
Back-to-School Bootcamp: Relearning Your Child’s Chemistry to Improve Behavioral Conditions
Mensah Medical encourages you to remain mindful this upcoming school year. Register for our upcoming webinar, “Back-to-School Bootcamp: Relearning Your Child’s Chemistry to Improve Psychological and Behavioral Conditions.” We’ll review the biochemical basis for behavioral conditions in children and what has made our drug-free treatment approach successful in thousands of cases.