Why French Children Don’t Have ADHD

Sunday morning, a family was seated together in church, and the parents were doing their best to control the youngest child, who was continually acting up during the service.  Finally the father had enough and during the offertory, lifted the little fella over his shoulder and began walking  back toward the foyer.  As they were leaving the main auditorium, the small boy yelled out to the congregation, “Pray for me!”  ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the most diagnosed mental problem for children in America.  10% (1out of 10) of boys and girls are labelled as such due to their inattention and impulsiveness.  They are then put on prescription medicines like Ritalin and Dexedrine (but these drugs can cause side effects such as: stomachaches, headaches, irritability, decreased appetite, and insomnia.  But in France, ADHD is almost non-existent among children.  Only 0.5% (less than 1 in 100) are identified as having the same inattention and impulsiveness.  How can this be?  It’s because the French do not believe that ADHD is a biological disorder as much as it is a social one (and the rise in cases over here has been exacerbated by American permissiveness when it comes to children, especially the very young. Sociologists will tell you that boys and girls in France are much better behaved than their counterparts here.  This is because from birth, French parents provide a firm cadre (frame or structure) for their offspring.  For instance, babies are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves.  Infants are left alone to cry out(of course for no more than a few minutes) if they are not sleeping through the night by the age of four months.  And children are not allowed to snack when they want.  Mealtimes are set and kids learn to wait instead of eating.  Pères (fathers) and mères (mothers) believe in setting consistently-enforced limits and that the word non (no) rescues little ones from the tyranny of their own desires.  As well, although the rest of Europe considers spanking to be child abuse, in France, not to spank is considered character developmental abuse.  In other words, in la France, the parents are firmly in control of the children and not the other way around.  And if ADHD is suspected, children are not immediately put on medications to control their behaviour.  Rather, a holistic approach is taken that covers such areas as upbringing, diet and exercise with therapists, nutritionists, and trainers available to assist.  As a result, clinicians there have been successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry, with far fewer children qualifying for an ADHD diagnosis.
The bottom line?  As God says in Proverbs, Train up a child in the way he should go… otherwise, qui mal commence, mal achève
(a bad beginning makes for a bad end).This is for information sake and not to be taken
as medical advice.

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