EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 22, 2013

Enjoying life as family at heart of keeping children well

Family Matters
Dr. Larry Larsen

---- — Last week’s column dealt with a teacher’s question about seeing so many children on medication. As promised, this week let’s talk about what we as parents, teachers, and helpers can do..

In some ways the toothpaste is out of the tube. Change is likely to be difficult, but here are some thoughts, and these are based on my observations of many families and children.

Examine and reorder our lifestyles

Rediscover joy. This means lowering stress, controlling how much and in what ways we speak to our children. It includes thinking before acting, studying what discipline means, and insisting on family time and making the experience worthwhile. It means not abandoning time to video, television, computer, and social media. It means having the family together for an evening meal filled with humor and good food. It means finding a mindful center in life be that from meditation, time observing this marvelous universe, or the quiet exercise of one’s spiritual life. Laugh a lot, a whole lot. There is irony and humor everywhere.

Exercise the privilege of caring

Meaningful giving leads to better health and focus. As a family there are numerous opportunities to care for others. This need not be highly organized or add another task to a busy life. Share. Our time on this planet is too brief to go it alone.

Insist on the best quality in education

This has nothing to do with MCAS or no child left behind but with character. Competition is not a bad word. Variety in children is essential to recognize without abandoning them to a range of “experts” who may know less about your child than you. Avoid “diagnosing” every style as a disability. Not every child is going to Harvard, but most are a genius at something. Do not become homework policemen and do the job of the school and teacher. Be politically active in the local school. Do not compete through your children.

In short, enjoy life! Embrace options and think outside the many boxes we have accepted as norms.