The flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds we plant today.
It can be said tomorrow’s mental health of your children is in the lifestyle you teach them today.
One of my patients, a former FBI agent, once informed me that their files clearly indicated that the very weapon “gun” to protect their family was more often the cause for harm and death to the very family that weapon was to protect.
That statement became a reality one month later as I rushed to the emergency room only to see a six year old brain irrefutably damaged because his older brother accidently shot him in the head with his father’s gun.
Often we fear the enemy from without, without realizing we bring him in. We are the harpengers or our own demise. The irony is we do harm the ones we love. The irrationality and shear negligence of the parent “gun toting” is in star contrast to the subtle damage I see parents doing daily. Parents bring into the home the very elements that destroy their children’s future, their physical health, their mental health, and their future ability to deal with the difficulties of life that prevent maturation and self-reliance, that are the building blocks of happiness. It is true we see the future of Alzheimer’s disease in our children. Not only by what we feed them, but more so in the lifestyle that we expose them to; our sedentary, stressful, and sleepless lifestyle.
How do we do this you ask yourself? Each of us do this when we visit the market and bring home chips, candy, pastries, donuts, and colas for our children to find and graze upon. Even more the lethal weapons of self destruction we place in their bedrooms destroying their sleep and self-content, namely the TV; the TV that exposes them to information, vengeance, killing, sexual activity that they are not ready to interpret or understand.
Worst of all, the hand weapons we by and put into their pockets that rob them of a peaceful existence, places them in constant state of stress, namely the cell telephone and hand-held computer games. 40% of youngsters admit they are continually on the telephone even late into the night. There, it robs them of sleep. When they are not on the telephone they distract themselves form the reality of life, homework, family interactions with your and their siblings by violent videogames that causes their alarm, “cortisol” hormones to soar.
Why are we startled at their lack of patience, their irritability, and outright aggressive behavior? Wouldn’t you also be the same if a mob of monsters and gangsters were constantly trying to destroy, as they experience in their videogames. Though this does not do the immediate damage of a bullet to the brain; however, it destroys it just the same. I believe it causes a fate worse than death, chronic anxiety, panic attacks, and finally depression.
In addition, due to their escape from reality through videogames and telephone, they begin to fail at school and consequently feel inadequate. As they grow older, they escape to more brain-altering drugs, as marijuana and cocaine, etc. You see them unable to cope with life and worse they blame you for it.
This is reinforces as you, the parent, start disparaging them for their failure and lack of ambition and self-control.
Yes, you are irate and angry at them for such an acquisition that “you are caused it”, especially after how hard you worked and have given them every opportunity. But what opportunity? I am certain all of us have the best interest for our children, but it does not turn out like we expect mainly because of a lack of knowledge and ignorance of what we are truly doing. Maybe you did not bring a gun into the home for them to stumble upon and use. You brought instead carbohydrates, to destroy the body, and unsupervised technology to ruin their sense of peach and destroy their life-coping skills. Even worse, you have actually caused brain damage through altering their hormones and neurotransmitters vital for brain health and subsequent mental health that leads to a contented, fulfilled adult, one able to deal with the problems we all eventually faced with and be an example to their own children. Yes, it begins at the grocery store and the presents you choose for them. It begins with what you don’t bring the, supervision and your undivided attention.
See the Anti-Alzheimer’s Prescription. Each chapter has one on preventing Alzheimer’s in children. Also, read Dr. William Sear’s books on childhood rearing.
For those who have not read the Anti-Alzheimer’s Prescription, Alzheimer’s begins in childhood.
Yes, we may not have been so negligent to leave a loaded weapon at home to cause brain or even death to our children, but because of the same lack of knowledge or understanding, we destroy our children through what we bring home from the grocery store and mind-altering presents; TV, telephones, and videogames. Please see the blog on Alzheimer’s begins in childhood.
Alzheimer’s Begins in Children
In a survey in the early 60s, it was found that 77% of adolescence reported feeling content most of the time. In 2005, that had dropped to 22%. In the 60s, more than 80% felt positive about their future. This has dropped to 33%.
Why is this when our standard of living has nearly tripled, education is more available, the web brings opportunities and parents are the means to help their children more than ever. Why are the now so malcontent and unhappy.
Recently, at a local diner frequented by the nearby high school students, I sat in amazement as 8 teenagers looked lifeless, fatigued, none smiled and all complained about regretting to go home to “my mom and dad who will tell me how worthless and lazy I am”. One declared, “I can’t wait until I am 18. I will be out of there”. One of the older adolescence in the group soberly said, “Yeh. I thought that too. Just wait. That means you’ve got to go get a job.” The others muttered and then as if ignoring the reality of what they had just heard, each dialing up their cell phone, “maybe to get a more sympathetic answer”.
These kids were well-dressed, upper middle class if anything. What has gone wrong here? Let me tell you what I say in the Anti-Alzheimer’s prescription.
What we have here is the victim mentality, the sullen faces, fatigue, what I didn’t mention the obesity of 50% of them and the obvious “out of shape”, pale bodies of the rest. What I was seeing was the physical and mental manifestation of what was going on within. Within their hormonal and neurotransmitter symphony. Yes, the bunch were playing E flat. There was no staccato, no sweat melody emanating from any of them. Only the blare of an occasional protest of being “tyrannized by their unsympathetic parents”. No violins strumming with self-awareness or excitement or insight as, “maybe I am the problem and I can help myself”.
Let me postulate what their problem is physiologically. Let’s not just blame it on the parents or external circumstances. What is actually going on within? Let start with sleep.
The average child in the 1950s got 10-11 hours night’s sleep. Most work early and went to bed by 8-10:00 at night. Now, rarely do any get more than 6.5 hours sleep according to recent statistics and when they fall asleep, well who knows.
What does sleeplessness mean physiologically. What does it do to their hormonal symphony, their growth hormone, thyroid hormone, testosterone, estrogen? What does it do to their aging hormones or stress hormones, cortisol, progesterone? Well, as regards their positive neurotransmitters, which are dopamine and serotonin; dopamine, the willpower, nonaddictive, and I feel great neurotransmitters and serotonin, the calmative, content neurotransmitters are replenished and stored away during sleep, especially the last two hours of sleep, the 7th, 8th, and 9th hours in stage III and IV sleep. In addition, REM sleep helps organization of their thoughts; that is, all those things that they have learned or experienced that day. A placed in relationship with past experiences.
Adolescence and children need 8-9 hours of sleep at a minimum. If not, any child will feel down fatigued, and pessimistic. They will have trouble “getting going”, attending and concentrating at school. The consequences of these low transmitters and low hormones, it they fail not because they don’t have the innate ability, but they simply run out of gas. Serotonin and dopamine are like the high test that is needed b a new Ferrari and instead without it the high powered car is running just on fumes. This physiological failure, that is low dopamine and serotonin and testosterone, estrogen, thyroid, and growth hormone lead to psychological failure.
A simple psychological fact is failure begets failure. If one has low confidence and a feeling of inability to deal with life, one seeks for escape. These hormones are not simply needed, they are a necessity. Without them, it is almost impossible to succeed. Also, what else is happening when we don’t sleep. Well, sleep is a time when cortisol, our stress hormone, takes a rest as does adrenaline, the fight or flight neurotransmitter. When we don’t sleep, get disturbed sleep, or are alarmed before going to bed, cortisol remains high. That means like having your Ferrari in neutral and revving the engine. In time, it will eventually burn out. Not only does chronic high levels of cortisol cause severe fatigue, but it actually decreases one’s immune system, increasing your child’s susceptibility to colds and infections. In addition, cortisol interferes with an immune system in your child’s mouth causing more likelihood of dental caries and gingivitis. Further, it increases the likelihood of the onset of diabetes. Chronic cortisol high levels cause demineralization and more likelihood of getting fractures. I could go and on regarding he effects of chronic hypercortisolism, including increased infection and cancer. Worse, is cortisol causes suppression of your youthful hormones, especially growth hormone, thyroid, testosterone, and estrogen. It causes carbohydrate craving with subsequent need for carbohydrates; also caffeine-laced cola, chips, and junk food where the result is obesity. The fact is, if a child or adolescent is overweight at age 18, there is a 70% chance of them being obese after they are 50. Obesity in woman increases the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease by 300%. It also increases the risk factors of hypertension, diabetes, and especially insulin-resistant diabetes; all markers for heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Not to say the lack of self-respect and self-confidence in those who feel themselves unattractive.
The total of all these effects end up in what we call syndrome X and ————— which is an extremely high risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Believe it or not, all is not said chronic stress leads to chronic anxiety, depression in kids just like I had seen that day. Yes, victims who blame their parents for their failure. You know, they are partially correct.
What Can Parents Do?
We try giving our children the best we can afford, clothes athletic equipment, vacations, and schools; all which are expensive. But, we don’t given them what counts most, the insistence and discipline to get to bed on time without cell telephones, videogames or the web being easily available to break their curfew. Think, maybe we would not have to work so hard to pay tutors, psychologists, and drug counselors if we just spent ten minutes each night making sure that they get to bed on time. If you start this when they are small, they just naturally will do it as they mature. Yes, the lifestyle that you instill in them today, will be the lifestyle that they will adopt when adults. My wife has always said, “Treat the kittens at your ankles before they are the tigers at your throat”.
Read the Alzheimer’s Prescription or Life Lesions from Soccer or Life Lessons from Little League. Read the Dr. William Sears series on childhood development or go to my website.