“You’ve Got a Difference, But Not a Disease”

Sports Illustrated’s ‘2008 Sportsman of the Year’ award is of no surprise to anyone this year.  Michael Phelps and his mind-boggling 8 Gold Medals captivated the country in August.  However, the manner in which his accomplishments have inspired thousands of children and teens who have ADHD is even more encouraging.  NY Times writer Tara Parker-Pope calls Phelps the new face of ADHD.  Ed Hallowell, a renowned ADHD expert for 25 years, has trumpted a call to ensure children know that ADHD does not have to be a curse.  In fact, Hallowell assures us ADHD can also be an asset if managed and channeled successfully.  The inspiring story of Phelps is one of my favorite ways to encourage kids and help them understand that while ADHD may have its limitation one can also use it to their advantage to achieve great things.  Unlimited energy and a laser focus on important goals can be a secret weapon that mere ordinary folks like me can only envy.  No longer must we allow children to suffer with low self esteem or depression due to this condition.  Tell them it can be the secret to their success!

Bah, Humbug!

Here are 2 little doses of ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ for you just in time for the Holidays. Researchers recently released the results of the first comprehensive evaluation of how media effects children and adolescent physical health.  After examining 173 scientific studies researchers concluded that in over 80% of the studies there was a strong link between media exposure and long-term negative health effects on children.  Specifically, these studies linked higher amounts of media exposure with obesity, smoking, and sexual activity.  As if we needed any more evidence that limiting and setting boundaries on our children’s media consumption was of critical importance.

If that’s not enough bad news for you consider this –  The Josephson Institute just released its 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth.  The results of a survey of 30,000 high school students across the country revealed that they lie, cheat, and steal at alarming rates.  Understandably, this non-profit group was disturbed when they consider these young people to be the next generation of teachers, police, politicians, and corporate executives.  83% of students in public and private schools admitted lying to their parents about something of real significance. 64% reported cheating on a test which is up from 60% in 2006.  In fact, these numbers might actually underestimate the seriousness of the problem as 26% of the students admitted lying about 1 or 2 of the survey questions.  More disturbing are the statistics of young people who were content with their ethics and character.  93% were satisfied and 73% indicated that “when it came to doing what is right they were better than most people they knew.”  Umm…Okay. That makes me feel a lot better.  Pass the Eggnog.