Child Behaviour and Diet: the Connection

Subject: Nutrition
Pages: 20
Words: 7115
Reading time:
24 min
Study level: Undergraduate

Introduction

Children in society are considered to be a welcomed asset. This is because of their degree of innocence which they normally show. However, it is not always the case that children are admired by everyone. At times, children are born during circumstances where the best thing for them is to give them up for adoption. However, it is important to note that despite this, they still grow up.

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The process of growth is a long one because there are various aspects of child growth which need to be always considered. There are cases where children will frustrate you and there are times when they will be a joy to have. In cases where they are a bother, the parents are fond of citing issues that they think are the route of problems. Mostly, these cases are usually in line with their behaviours. There are behaviours which children exhibit which are very disturbing. For instance, children who cannot settle down upon request or follow rules. This paper seeks to analyse these issues in detail with regard to the conditions which might be the precipitating factors for such behaviours, such as a child’s diet.

Human beings go through stages of development from conception up to old age. Each stage has its own complexities and challenges associated with it. Thus, for us to be able to understand what goes on within each stage of development, it is important to understand the process of development in each stage, the developmental limitations and ways to nurture the developmental progress (Jillian). In order to be able to deal with this subject clearly, it is important to seek to understand the term who is a child? Defining who a child is provides adults with a framework on which to implement or apply their parental obligations. There are many definitions which try to describe who a child is. This is normally subject to location, culture and legal implications of a given society. The term child refers to a stage of life which is characterised by a given set of features, behaviours and obligations. “Childhood” is a social construction whose boundaries shift with time and place (Peden and Oyebite, 2008).

Essentially, children are human beings who belong to a given stage of life where there are specific character traits and values. Human development is shaped by dynamic transactions between genes and environments – genetic and environmental influences that can be independent or correlated, and additive or interactive in their effects (Kathleen McCartney). Based on this fact, there are various factors which influence child growth and development. These factors can be divided into two major groups. That is the biological factors and the environmental factors. Biological factors are those factors which involve aspects which are innate in nature, that is, factors such as genetics and heredity. They largely involve or include the biochemical units (genes) which are acquired from the biological parents. On the other hand, the environment also plays a key role.

The environmental factors includes factors such as food and nutrition, diseases, drugs and substances used, the quality care of the child, cultural and legal influences, socio-economic status of the family, and the educational level of the caregivers. What is important to point out from this is that the main difference between these two factors is that the biological factors are not easy to alter or change. The most common way of intervention is to use the effects of the conditions at hand, find a way that is most appropriate at the time. On the contrary, environmental factors are those factors which human beings have control over. This means that though they may have negative effects upon the child, their impact is limited and can be brought to an ultimate end if the concerned parties take certain preventive measures.

Childhood is considered to be an important step of growth and development because it through this stage that adulthood emanates. There are various aspects of childhood which are of importance in later adulthood. For instance, the behaviour of the child is an important aspect with regard to childhood and development. It is on this basis that this paper seeks to establish the relationship between childhood behaviour and development.

Psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Erick Erikson have studied the aspects of childhood and they have revealed that a child may be viewed as a person who manifests certain sets of behaviours which are in line with the expectations of adults, given age and time. It can be said that a person is able to identify a child, based on some of the changes and milestones in a given period, for example, child to teenager. Furthermore, these changes attached to childhood take place within a specified duration of time. This stage associated with these changes is referred to as the childhood stage.

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Human behaviour has an impact on every aspect of our lives at some time and can be influenced by many things such as who we are and our understanding of the situation in whiohc we find ourselves in(Riddall-Leech). One of the greatest challenges for any one who lives and works with young children is to respond to and manage their behaviour in ways that are satisfying and productive for all concerned (Jilllian). According to Charles (1992), “behaviour encompasses all the physical and mental acts that (children) perform. Good or bad, right or wrong, helpful or useless, productive or wasteful”. Normal and appropriate behaviour can be considered to be behaviour which does not interfere with the child’s ability to cope with the environment and get along with others (Jilllian). Furthermore, children also exhibit behaviour which is usually referred to as inappropriate. Such behaviour is defined as persistent behaviour which does not help children fit into, live in and cope with society effectively (Jilllian). Herbert (1987) suggests that misbehaviour may be classified into three categories, excesses in behaviour, deficits in behaviour and constellations of behaviour. This implies that there are cases where children may exhibit behaviours which alter performance and impede progress of the child.

Charles defined five broad types of inappropriate behaviour which those working in care and education often have to content with; they include the following; 1) immorality or behaviour such as lying and stealing,2) defiance of authority where children refuse to comply with requests, 3) disruptive behaviour such as talking loudly, pushing in and throwing things around the room,, 4) goofing off which means clowning around, being silly, wasting time and not concentrating on getting involved in and completing the experiences offered. According to Charles, these types offer those who work with children the base or framework upon which they can be able to assess the behaviour of a child and state whether it is problematic or not.

Defiant behaviour may be their expression of stress caused by a parent or sibling’s illness or even caused by a parents’ extended stay (Barkley and Benton, 1998). Studies show that anywhere from 12% – 24% of British children and young adults have a problem with oppositional, non compliant, and defiant behaviour, (Barkley, 2002). Furthermore, recent studies show that anywhere from 5 -8% of American children have a problem with oppositional, non compliant and defiant behaviour, and those figures include only children whose behaviour is bad enough to be diagnosed as a disorder (Barkely). In as much as children possess such behaviours, the most important fundamental facts that are available to date, about defiant behaviour are that; it takes time to develop and it arises from a complicated set of causes (Barkley and Benton, 1998). For instance, it is important to note that adequate brain functioning is fundamental to ensuring that a child has got an efficient cognitive ability and performance in terms of organised behaviour (Bellisle, 2004).

Children exhibit both positive and negative sets of behaviour. This means that there are times when children will behave in a positive manner which is pleasing and at the same time it may be impressive and there are times children exhibit negative behaviours. Studies reveal that child behaviours are usually rendered suspect and subject to scrutiny under the following conditions. First, if the child fails to start doing what you ask within one minute after you make a request. Secondly, the child fails to finish what you have asked them to do. Thirdly, the child violates rules of conduct already taught (Barkley and Benton, 1998). Barkley and Benton further argue that creativity in such cases is always an asset; however, it cannot be compared to consistency in the way you treat a child and convey the desired responses and behaviour.

Behaviour does not occur in a vacuum, that is, when children behave in ways that we do not agree with or live up to our expectations, we are baffled (Peden and Oyebite, 2008).The questions that linger in such cases are what is the behaviour problem? Why is the problem continuing to occur? And what is the best treatment for the problem? (Kearney, 2010). Defiant behaviour may be their expression of stress caused by a parent or sibling’s illness or even caused by a parents’ extended stay (Barkley and Benton, 1998). Studies show that anywhere from 12% – 24% of British children and young adults have a problem with oppositional, non compliant, and defiant behaviour, (Barkley, 2002), and those figures include only children whose behaviour is bad enough to be diagnosed as a disorder (Barkley and Benton, 1998). In as much as children possess such behaviours, the most important fundamental facts that are available to date, about defiant behaviour are that; it takes time to develop and it arises from a complicated set of causes (Barkley and Benton, 1998). For instance, it is important to note that adequate brain functioning is fundamental to ensuring that a child has got an efficient cognitive ability and performance in terms of organised behaviour (Bellisle, 2004).

As a parent, it can be overwhelming to discover that the child you are bringing up has certain problems which may be hindering the progress that you may be expecting as a parent. It is even more frustrating to discover that the child is exhibiting characters and behaviours which seem to be overwhelming you as a parent. Naturally, when a child acts up all the time, it is easy to believe that they are the only ones who behave that way; however, naturally this perception leaves parents blaming themselves – “why can’t I control my child?” (Barkley and Benton, 1998). This has often resulted into frantic efforts by parents to try to ensure that they assert their control over their children’s behaviour which can lead to disasters.

Behaviour is any overt behaviour which is expressed by a child as a response to changes in their environment, for example a child crying, someone singing, or even aggressive behaviours which are exhibited. Behaviour is learned as well as conditioned (Rogers, 2006). Rogers further argues that sound principles of learning which underline this assumption should enable a care giver to note that even where a child has a behaviour issue such as ADHD, “they should emphasize academic and social survival skills when they work with the child, both within and without the school context” (32). When a child is said to be having “puzzling behaviour”, the implication are that there is something different about the child in comparison to their peers (Rogers, 2006). This means that these children may be exhibiting behaviours which are not considered to be common to children who are of the same age, thereby bringing confusion in terms of the needs that they have.

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Essentially, children exhibit various “puzzling behaviours” though when they persist they become an area of concern. For instance, children may be exhibiting characters such as; over excited behaviour, non – compliance with requests, attention or learning difficulties at school, delayed socialisation with others and also exhibit angry and overly disruptive behaviours (Rogers, 2006). Furthermore, where a child has “learnt” poor inadequate, inappropriate or dysfunctional patterns of behaviour, teachers and care givers work with the child to directly teach new appropriate self coping behaviours that will strengthen a positive sense of self-worth, learning and relationship building both at school and at home (Rogers, 2006).

It has been discovered that some defiance arises as a result of children having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Barkley and Benton, 1998). Research findings indicate that ADHD is a lifelong condition that impacts on the individual’s educational, social and occupational life (Weyandt, 2006). The official estimate is around 5% of school children in the England are affected by ADHD at any one time. This percentage varies, however, depending on the following (a) the diagnostic criteria used by doctors and researchers to define and assess ADHD, (b) whether researchers actually assess the severity of the disorder or merely the presence of ADHD symptoms (Weyandt, 2006).

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD?)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the name coined to describe children, adolescents and some adults, who are inattentive, easily distracted, abnormally overactive and impulsive in their behaviour (Millichap). Of the first references to a child with hyperactivity or ADHD was in the poetry of the German physician Heinrich Hoffman in 1865, who penned poems about many of the childhood maladies he saw in his medical practice (Stewart 1970). Writers referred to children with ADHD as having “hyperkinetic impulse disorder”, and reasoned that the central nervous system deficit occurred in the thalamic area (Barkley). Many different terms have been used to describe the hyperactive child with attention deficits and frequently associated with learning disorders (Millichap). Millichap further asserts, “Some have emphasized the symptoms (hyperactivity, inattentiveness), some refer to the presumed cause (brain damage or dysfunction), others the educational problems (perception and learning disorders) associated with the behaviour” (2).

It has been discovered that some defiance arises as a result of children having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Barkley and Benton). Research findings indicate that ADHD is a lifelong condition that impacts on the individual’s educational, social and occupational life (Weyandt). The official estimate is that 3 – 7% of the children in the United States are affected by ADHD at any one time (Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). This percentage varies, however, depending on the following (a) the diagnostic criteria used by clinicians and researchers to define and assess ADHD, (b) whether researchers actually assess the prevalence of the disorder or merely the presence of ADHD symptoms (Weyandt).

Initially, attention-deficit disorder was thought to be a childhood condition which would later disappear with age. However, research reveals that this is not the case. Attention deficit disorder, which is now known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was believed to have been a disorder which affects children only and they were expected to outgrow it with time (Carole, Isadore and Cerulli). Scientists have confirmed that while ADHD begins in childhood, many people continue to have the disorder as adults; research further confirms that 4% of the adult population suffers from ADHD (Carole, Isadore and Cerulli). Carole, Isadore and Cerulli further assert that there are more than 8 million adults in the US who have ADHD, but only 10 – 15% of them have been diagnosed and treated. That is, there are cases where this condition has been characterized all the way to adulthood. Despite this, the degree of excessive impulsivity and extreme activity has been observed to decrease with age. The medical symptoms which have been associated with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder which occur in later stages of life have been associated with the inability of an adult to acquire and sustain relationships which may be considered to be long lasting and stable. Secondly, the adult may not be able to function as expected by the society in the person(s) of his peers, such as having families, holding stable jobs or even enhancing in various spheres of life.

It is widely accepted that diagnosing this condition is not easy. This is because it involves much of observation as compared to taking blood test to check if there are any samples or elements of causative agents. Medical practitioners and psychologists should be careful and ensure that children and adults who have been diagnosed to suffer from this condition should not be subject to the only suggested causes of this condition. They should be challenged to consider and seek to evaluate if there are unique causes of this condition which are or may be responsible for bringing about this condition. This should be hand in hand with behaviours and conditions which may be considered to be associated with ADD/ADHD such as extreme stress and anxiety related disorders.

What is the relationship between ADHD and ADD? According to the DSM II, the central hall marks of this condition were hyperactivity, distractibility and attention problems. Though as earlier stated it was believed that children who had this condition would eventually outgrow the disorder by adolescence (Weyandt). However studies have revealed that this assumption is not valid. This is because there were cases where one could find adults who were bearing the symptoms of this condition. The first entry of the syndrome in DSM II (1968) used the term hyperkinetic reaction of childhood or adolescence, in 1980, DSM III recognized two subtypes of a syndrome of attention deficit disorder, that is ADD without hyperactivity and ADD with hyperactivity; consequently in 1994, the DSM IV now recognized the three subtypes of the syndrome; ADHD-Inattentive type, ADHD-hyperactive type and the ADHD-combined type (Millichap).

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ADHD is considered to be a medical condition which first appears in childhood and manifests itself in the levels of attention, concentration, activity, distractibility and impulsivity inappropriate to the child’s age (Weyandt, 2006). Many children with the disorder continue to have symptoms in adulthood, although hyperactivity tends to decrease with age (Biederman, Faraone and Spencer, 1993 ). Symptoms often are severe enough to interfere with daily life and may affect the child’s ability to form healthy relationships with others and function productively, whether at school, home or in social situations (Weyandt, 2006). The exact cause of this condition remains a mystery to many. Up to now the exact cause of this condition has not yet been established. However, it is important to note that according to vast studies which have been carried out in this area, point to hereditary and biological causes. This conclusion has been arrived at based on findings established among the relationships of those who are affected by this condition (Faraone, Biederman and Mick, 2003).

Symptoms of ADD/ADHD

The general symptoms of this condition include the fact that the patients may show signs common with inattentiveness, impulsivity and they may also be highly active. However, it is also important to note that these symptoms may also be subject to changes in the ages of the affected child.

However, the science world still faces the intellectual challenge of describing the factors which cause Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder. This is because it has not been possible to objectively state the causes based on medical tests. The strategies that have been used in most cases are observation assessments which at times may have been described on the basis of which factors the scientists observe. However, according to MIND there are certain features which the scientists generally agree that may be associated with this condition. It has been discovered that some aspects of defiance arise as a result of children having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Barkley and Benton, 1998).

Not so long ago, attention deficit disorder, which is now known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was believed to have been a disorder which affects children only and they were expected to outgrow it with time (Carole, Isadore and Cerulli, 2010). However, research has confirmed that this is not always the case. This is because scientists today have confirmed that while ADHD begins in childhood, many people continue to have the disorder as adults; research further confirms that 1.7% of the population suffers from ADHD, mainly children (Carole, Isadore and Cerulli, 2010).

Owing to the fact that ADD/ADHD interferes with the functioning of a person, it is important to analyse some of the aspects which bring about this condition and what is the onset age of the condition is, generally. According to scientist, ADD/ADHD manifests itself in the childhood stage of human development. This implies that it causes a child to exhibit character traits and behaviours which are not in line with other children who are of the same age. These behaviours include, aspects such as lack of attention in classrooms, loss of concentration, the child seems to be overly active, the child can be easily distracted and they at times exhibit aggressive behaviours which are extreme to children who are of that age set.

Despite this, the degree of excessive impulsivity and extreme activity has been known to decrease with age. The medical symptoms which have been associated with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder which occur in later stages of life have been associated with the inability of an adult to acquire and sustain relationships which may be considered to be long lasting and stable. Secondly, the adult may not be able to function as expected by their peers, such as having families, holding stable jobs or even enhancing in various areas of life.

It is widely accepted that diagnosing this condition is not easy. This is because it involves much of observation as compared to taking blood test to check if there are any abnormalities. Doctors should be sure to evaluate patients for other possible causes of inattentive or hyperactive behaviours and assess the patient for common existing conditions, including oppositional defiant disorder, depression and anxiety. They should also be challenged to consider and seek to evaluate if there are unique causes of this condition which are or may be responsible for bringing about this condition. This should be hand in hand with behaviours and conditions which may be considered to be associated with ADD/ADHD such as extreme stress disorders (Clinical Practice Guideline, 2000)

So what is the relationship between ADHD and ADD? According to the DSM four, (2000) the central hall marks of these conditions were hyperactivity, distractibility and attention problems. Though as earlier stated it was believed that children who had this condition would eventually outgrow the disorder by adolescence (Weyandt, 2006). However, studies have revealed that this assumption is not valid. This is because there were cases where you could find adults who showed signs of the symptoms of this condition. Thus, in 1994, the fourth edition of the DSM, (2000) was released, and the diagnostic category ADD was changed to ADHD (Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity disorder) (Weyandt, 2006).

Symptoms of ADHD may include the following, inattention, not following through on some instructions, avoiding tasks that require sustained mental effort, losing things, distractibility, forgetfulness, fidgeting, leaving one’s seat, running or climbing about, excessive talking, difficulty waiting, and interrupting others (Kearny, 2010).

The psychiatric association recognises that ADD as a mental disorder, whose cause is still unknown. This implies that there is no medical test for it thereby forcing the practitioners who diagnose children to do so through subjective observations of the children’s behaviour (Biddle, 2008). ADHD has been associated with an array of challenges which face parents, teachers and the children. Du-Paul and Stone, (2003) argue, the core characteristics (that is, inattention, impulsivity and over activity) of ADHD can lead to difficulties for children in school settings which are associated with attention problems include poor test performance; deficient study skills; disorganised notebooks, desks and written reports; and a lack of attention to a teachers lessons and or group discussions.

Problems of aggression are most frequently associated with ADHD and can include defiance or non compliance with authority figures, commands, poor temper control, and argumentativeness and oppositional defiant disorder (Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 2000). The medical costs of bringing up children with ADHD are also high as compared to other children.

Intervention

It is the obligation of every culture and society to ensure that the needs of its entire population are met regardless of the challenges or needs which are being experienced by the children. This is well emphasised by the United Nations. For instance, article 24 of the United Nations convection of rights of the child (UNCRC 1989) details the rights to health, beginning with the basic necessities of clean drinking water and adequate nutritious foods. It further refers to the differing global expectations for children’s health, stating in section one that the child has the right to the “highest attainable standard of health” (Staples and Moncrieff, 2007).

Children who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also need to have equal opportunities to develop and grow to become productive people in society. These call for strategies geared towards ensuring that the relevant approaches to insure the impact of ADHD are put into place. Early identification and intervention are essential to improving the outcome of individuals with the disorder, and teachers often play a key part in both of these tasks (Weyandt, 2006). These theories of causes of ADHD give a glimpse into the probable intervention strategies of this condition. Treating children or people with ADHD often involves multi-optional approaches with an emphasis on medication and behaviour (Kearny, 2010). However, in most cases, children diagnosed with ADHD are often prescribed Ritalin or Dexamphetamine medications that can assist with aspects of concentration, focus and impulsivity (Rogers, 2006).

Owing to the fact that the diagnosis of this condition is not straight forward, it follows that the treatment strategy is multi-faced. These strategies include parental training, behavioural management, family therapy, school interventions and social skills training (Teeter, 2000). Teeter, (2000) further argues that the treatment goals for mid childhood should consider the following, that is;

  1. Increase effective management skills, improve communication and problem solving abilities, and enhance healthy parent – child and sibling relations in family systems to decrease the stress and conflict that arises in families who are raising children with ADHD;
  2. Increase child compliance, work completion and work accuracy to decrease the negative impact of ADHD in the classroom;
  3. Increase social interaction and problem solving skills, and appropriate expression of feelings (for example, anger control) to decrease social isolation and or rejection in children with ADHD;
  4. Increase the child’s self – esteem by identifying and building competencies and successes;
  5. Increase self – control techniques in children with ADHD by considering medication in combination with other self – management interventions (Teeter 152).

Although there at present no cure for ADHD exists, there are a number of treatment options that have proven to be effective (Education). Pharmacology, cognitive – behavioural modification and contingency management, and the combination of the psycho stimulant medication and behavioural modification are the most efficacious treatments currently used with children with ADHD (Gage and Wilson, 2000). There are several strategies which are utilized and which are going to be focus of our study; these include the following; Behavioural, pharmacological and multimodal method (Education).

Behavioural approaches

Cognitive – behavioural treatment procedures have not established beneficial effects for ADHD (Kendall, 2000). However, Hinshaw et al. (1998) have noted that psychosocial treatment with underpinnings in behavioural contingencies can have encouraging effects on ADHD – related symptomatology. It has been noted that when children with ADHD are treated by behaviourist methods, such matters as regular daily rhythms and consistent responses to their actions are extremely important as means to reinforce desirable “patterns” of behaviour (Schwartz).

Pharmacological approaches

The most common form of intervention for children is pharmacological treatment (Stevens, 2000). Two types of medications are predominantly used to treat the symptoms of ADHD – stimulants and antidepressants. Psycho stimulants medications are the most frequently used of the two, because they increase the levels of dopamine in the brain and they are usually taken in the forms of methylphenidate (Ritalin), dextroamphetamine (Dexadrine); and pemoline (Cylert) (Waschbush et al., 1998). These medications aid in the reduction of inattentiveness, over activity, and impulsivity and in the enhancement of pro-social behaviours in the classroom setting (American Academy of Paediatrics, 2001). Pelham, et al (1998) states that 7- – 80% of the children respond to stimulant medication.

In spite of all the advancements in the pharmacological approach, there have been side effects which have been reported to be associated with the medication (Ellis and Bernard). Furthermore, this form of medication has been associated with such conditions as headaches, decreased appetite, sleep disturbances, stomach ache and the possibility of getting addicted or using Ritalin as a “gate away” drug to other narcotics use (Goldman, et al. 1998).

Multimodal method

No one approach has been proven to tackle ADHD 100% (McCluskey and McCluskey). Such a multimodal approach is needed because children and adolescents with ADHD have multiple areas of difficulty (Schwartz). There is usually more success when a multiple or multimodal approach is put to place. This is because a combination of treatments is more likely to have more impact than any one method applied in isolation (Barkley). Furthermore, this approach reflects an understanding that in spite of the symptoms that all ADHD children have in common, it is not enough to treat the illness; one must also treat the individual who manifests those symptoms in his own unique way (Schwartz). It is important to note that in this model, there are certain approaches that purport that diet has an influence on ADHD. Everyone has likes and dislikes with regard to the kind of food they like. This is because foods have been known to elicit certain behaviours in human beings.

Biochemical links between food and the behaviour are not yet fully established although it is known that some children are sensitive to the chemicals in some foods thus explaining why one could have a preference of a certain form of food over the other (Coralie). A number of studies suggest that there is potential role of certain nutrients or elements of eating patterns, in cognitive functioning in children and adolescents (Bellisle). For instance, research reveals that there are times when sucrose is eliminated from a hyperactive child’s diet, the child’s behaviour tends to improve however when it is reintroduced, the behaviours persisted (Crook). Despite the fact there are theories which hold that sugar intake may have influence on the hyperactive behaviours exhibited by children, studies which have been carried out under laboratory and controlled settings have not supported such theories (Bellisle). In the case of sucrose for example, studies comparing a sucrose challenged with a placebo (usually saccharin) did not find differences in behaviours such as activity , impulsivity or locomotion (Roshon and Hagen; Ferguson HB), even when the tests were carried out in children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (Wender and Solanto)

Furthermore, what is known is that too much fast acting sugar in one hit will cause the blood sugar to rise sharply, thus causing more insulin to be made which could alter the child’s behaviour (Coralie). Therefore it is important to note that encouraging the intake of a varied diet that includes numerous foods of good nutritional content, according to a sound meal pattern, seems to be the optimal strategy to ensure that young people will have the best possible behaviour and cognitive functioning (Bellisle).

ADD/ADHD in other countries

ADD is an increasingly diagnosed disorder in children in the united kingdom (as in Australia and United States of America) (Bill). The prevalence of ADHD in other countries has also been investigated, and as in the US, statistics vary depending on factors such as age of the individuals investigated, gender and diagnostic criteria employed (Weyandt). The results of studies using the DSM criteria suggest that the prevalence of Attention Deficit Disorder/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is at least as high in many non US children as compared to the United States children (Faraone, Joseph and Christopher). The data from studies using the DSM criteria to assess the prevalence of ADHD in representative child and adolescent populations suggest that there is no convincing difference between the prevalence of this disorder in the United States and most other countries or cultures (Faraone, Joseph and Christopher). These studies have reinforced the fact that there are various populations which have been considered to have lower incidences of the attention hyperactivity disorder prevalence as compared to the prevalence rates in the United States of America such as the republic of Iceland, Australia, Italy and Sweden. Though this is what has been presumed to be the case, this studies content that these findings may not be considered to be conclusive because of inadequacy of available data.

In the years 1990 – 1993, ADHD outpatient in the United Kingdom according to a survey that was conducted, it was revealed that ADHD outpatients increased from 1.6 to 4.2 million per year (Swanson, Lerner and Williams 1995). A follow up survey in 2003 for children between 4 -17 years further revealed that 4.4 million diagnosed with ADHD and 2.5 million of them were already receiving medication while 7.8% of the school aged children have ADD – ADHD diagnosis reported by their parent (Biddle).

In the United States the rate of diagnosing ADHD is around 7.5%, with 6% of school age boys taking medication to control their behaviour and is reported as being 5 – 10 times higher than in other countries (Underdown). In the United Kingdom, there have been structures which have been laid down to ensure that all children’s needs are met in spite of any challenges that these children may be going through. This aimed at ensuring that all children are exposed to equal opportunities in their later life. For instance, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom provides free health care and prescriptions for all children, and has traditionally reflected the emphasis on physical wellbeing of all the children (Staples and Moncrieff). In the United Kingdom, studies reveal that the rate of ADHD diagnosis is still quite high approximately at 1% is said to be rising and is markedly higher than in other European countries with Norway and Sweden rarely diagnosing the condition (Breggin and Breggin).

Perhaps this is unsurprising that there are few children being diagnosed with ADHD in Norway and Sweden, where young children experience an increased emphasis on outdoor play and less on formal learning (Underdown). Owing to the nature of attention deficit-hyperactive disorder, the most common treatment approach which has been utilized has been the stimulant. In this case, it has been noticed that most practitioners have been using Ritalin in order to contain the effects or mitigate harmful or unwanted behaviours which may be associated with the condition of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Consequently, in the United States of America, in has been noticed that the usage of these stimulants has been on the increase among the population of school age going children.

Conclusion

Children are an important part of any progressing society. As a part of a society, they are there to be loved and to be taken care of. This means that as a parent teacher or caregiver, your obligation is to ensure that the needs of the children who are under your care are well taken care of and their needs are met effectively. In addition, children who are not taken care of may end up being lost in this world without realizing who they really are. In as much as we need to appreciate the role of children, it is also imperative that we learn to embrace the fact that there are cases when we will get children who are not what we expected. That is, some of the children that one might have may develop certain aspects or conditions which may not be common with other children in the society. This calls for the parent to seek avenues which they can adequately meet these unexpected issues which they may be facing at a particular time.

A case in point for instance is the issue of the condition known as the ADD/ADHD, for most, this condition has not been well understood. Furthermore, there have been various theories which have been put forward with regard to the right definition of this condition. However, what is important is to note that there are recommended centres that are set up to ensure that the needs of the children are amicably met.

For instance the United Kingdom government report establishes the dangers of ignoring ADD/ADHD by stating the following (Committee):

If ADHD goes undiagnosed and untreated (medically, socially and educationally) then by the time the child hits the teenage years he is often in big trouble. It is virtually impossible to keep these children at home. They are vulnerable to getting into a wrong crowd, very easily led, very prone to substance abuse and to crime. Truancy is likely to occur. Whilst there is much talk now about “parenting partnership” and parents being ultimately responsible for their truant children how (may I ask), short of straight – jacketing them, can they possibly get their youngsters to school? Most of them are physically bigger and stronger than their parents by then. Even fining the parents several thousands pounds is unlikely to change the impulsive behaviour of a persistent truant. So by the time they are adults, with years of constant failure and rejection behind them, many become severely depressed and some commit suicide. (p. 632

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