How Technology and Melatonin supplements have been normalized.
Recently while out with my three children a store clerk having observed my daughter’s tantrum at being denied candy and my children’s overflowing pre-dinner exuberance at checkout recommended melatonin chews in the medicine aisle…
I found myself deeply shocked by the implication that my children were understood to need medication for behaving like small children and even more shocked that giving our small children melatonin chews is a norm somewhere in our society.
My son diagnosed with cerebral palsy is four and has speech-language delays and sensory processing challenges due to cerebral palsy.
He is very high functioning, bright and receptive but has challenges expressing what he understands and physical challenges in learning autonomy he tends toward shy and can become overwhelmed in certain settings. It is my job to teach him skills to not only cope but thrive despite his challenges.
Once he loses his emotional grounding it can be difficult for him to self-regulate. I have more than once found myself in public somewhere or on a store floor holding my crying flailing boy snug, covering his ears, and sometimes blocking his view, to help him regulate and calm down and helping him tap into his own regulatory system to quiet down. Trying to ignore the passers-by with judgmental stares.
As I have three children this does not happen in a vacuum, I need to keep an eye on my twin daughters who are usually with us; 13 months younger than their brother. My children are 3 and 4 in age.
In temperament, I was blessed to have three, one spirited daughter, one easy, and one shy son.
I was disturbed to discover not only is melatonin used by a faction of our society to calm children, so is Benadryl, an allergy medicine whose side effect is drowsiness. Both are being used for calming and the side effects to put children to sleep. This is a terrible misuse of medicine. It is a disservice to those children being medicated instead of taught valuable life skills!
Perhaps I am old fashioned, but I am deeply offended by the notion of handing over parenting to a pill. I consider it my job to teach my children the tools they need to be a success in this world. Part of that is teaching my children how to self-regulate regardless of whether they have an extra challenge or not, are spirited, or shy, or easy going.
Being a good mother is multi-faceted and guaranteed you will not ace it every time.
At some point you settle on good enough and try to forgive yourself for the failures on your part and keep striving to do better.
Part of being a good mother is teaching your children to eat healthily, so they have good energy and don’t crash all the time. It means having patience with the fact each one is an individual with their own unique challenges.
Keep in mind their ages and the fact that their brains’ ability for self-control at ages 0–5 is just coming online. Impulse control even if they understand the concept is near impossible at ages 0–3.
Being there to witness and reflect your child’s reality back to him/her is vital. Rather than correcting the feeling: correct the action and validate the feeling.
Staying calm enough to reframe their children's childhood crisis into more positive terms is a hugely important part of parenting.
It means doing your best to ensure they get enough sleep and exercise. When children misbehave, they are testing boundaries which is their job, it is how our children learn right and wrong early on. The challenge as adults is recognizing this and being firm, kind, and patient with it.
Not doping our children.
Another facet of parenting is being aware in our technological age, that most of our screens put off blue light which is a high energy light like the sun’s rays. It messes with our bodies normal melatonin production. Installing blue light filters on all one’s devices especially those one uses at night or those your children watch or use can dramatically shift the sleep cycle to better.
Many blue light filters are free and easy to set up and can significantly shift your children’s sleep life to better. When I installed the filter on my reading app, I found I could read before going to bed without staying up hours too late.
Parenting is arguably the hardest job you will ever love.
When done right amazing babies and children grow into phenomenal adults.
If your child is acting out it’s time to revamp your parenting skills.
Children accurately reflect back what they need, what they want, and what is missing. If you are a parent it is your job to figure it out not dope your child.
For those who might take issue: our society in America has provided many rich resources for free online and in-person help as well as paid resources.
A poem to follow:
Ritalin, Melatonin chews, and Benadryl
“I think not!”
Andrea A. Fitzpatrick
This feeling that gives
our hearts reason to beat
can reach beyond all perceived boundary
I choose it.
Each so individual in their shape
in the personality
that they carry
All with wild dark curls
He with dark chocolate eyes
And they of grey-blue
storm clouds before a downpour of rain
each vivid and
bright with life.
You, sturdy strong healthy go
from hopping exuberance
to descend with me
rubbing your toes
relax into my side
drift toward Sleep
this softens and
wholly undoes me.
Fierce pain-filled stormy eyes
shrieking at me as
I lay you back on your bed
And I firmly gently pull covers over
flying feet push them into my tummy
whilst squeezing your arms to sides
count a loud and breathe 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, release
And… there’s my girl staring back at me calm
gentle as a mewing kitty.
There is command in my tone
“Push” I say, push!
There isn’t sweetness
without words to explain
I must pull you from the storm
of emotion flooding you
till you react blindly
I catch your strong square little hands in mine
your knees pushing my stomach
I lean into you
you push in earnest and engage with me
Then…I use calm loving tones
help you tap into your own regulatory system
I feed it with my voice and touch until you
meet my eyes
take a shuddering breath
and stop flailing
I say softly there’s my boy
and touch your face.
WRITTEN BY: Andrea A. Fitzpatrick