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I think everyone I knew as a child, including myself, would have been diagnosed with ADD. There were many afternoons my brother would come home with his clothes torn and his face bloodied as a result of a fight at school. No reports were filed. No police was called. No counselors or lawyers were consulted. Boys just punched each other, and no alarm bells sounded.
I remember fondly when recess consisted of wall ball or dodge ball when kids were smashed, pummeled, battered and bruised with balls all over the playground. We were full of energy and aggression, and the adults just accepted it. Even the B.B. gun shoot outs and the rock fights did not brand us as sociopaths. But when my brother got caught shooting out street lights... now that got attention. The police came to the house saying "naughty, naughty" and demanded payment of $550. But there were no hand cuffs, no therapists, no labeling, just kids being kids.
I remember days spent careening down the hill on our bikes with arms and legs flailing in the wind, many times returning home with tears for band-aids and a hug. That was kid fun, and we could play like that for hours, dreading the ring of the dinner bell and end of our fun. Even at school, we were not cooped up for long. There were free periods throughout the day when we could run around and expel pent-up energy, because kids were kids.
Contrast that with today. Most schools have cancelled free play-recess time, completely. The children are forced to spend the whole day in overcrowded classrooms without being allowed to run around and expend energy. If the children are permitted to go outside, they must wear the appropriate safety equipment and usually play an organized sport with no winners or losers because keeping score might hurt the self esteem of the losers. At home whether it be riding a bike, going to the beach, or playing a group sport, physical safety and lack of legal exposure is the primary concern. Playgrounds are designed and build by certified ergonomics engineers and must be erected on an injury resistant surface. Parents have been so frightened with dangers that many avoid physical harm by keeping their children inside and encouraging entertainment with electronic gadgets.
If a child has an argument with another, an all present supervisor intervenes using conflict resolution methods to solve the rift. If that fails, parents, therapists, or police are summoned. And the participants and the situation are separated, segmented, analyzed and evaluated. And the professionals always find the appropriate solution.
This hyper-vigilance is excessive and unnatural. Kids are prevented from solving problems in kid ways, while learning valuable life lessons on their own, and finding new and more effective ways of handling situations as they mature. This is normal and natural.
What happened to "you're wrong and I'm right!" or "If you don't stop bugging me I am going to punch you in the nose!" The natural reactions of children today are so suppressed that they have no idea how to act and react to the world around them. Some even breed a seething rage which is a direct result of their confusion.
Normal behavior has been labeled as dangerous and in need of control. Huge dramas are made of situations that should have been handed on the kid level, thus avoiding permanent labeling.
I know my brothers and I could never have endured this control and pressure. We would have gotten ADD drugs from the medicine man.
Today most children are raised in environments that are unnatural and interfere from developing into creative self-starters required in our entrepreneurial culture.
I could never subject my children to these abuses to nature. Children's enthusiasm and energy should be acknowledged and exalted, not scorned and medicated.
Pam Connolly is a professional educator with the San Diego School District. She has been teaching kids how to type for over 11 years. To teach your child typing, visit http://www.1stoplearntotype.com .
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