Parenting

You'll Never Guess Who Thinks It's Their Job to Help Regulate Your Child's Behavior

Let’s play a game. It’s called, “Guess Who Said It.” Guess which type of professional said the following phrase:

“Kids misbehave because it’s their job,” he says. “It’s our job to be able to help them learn and regulate their behavior.”

Your choices are:

  1. A parent
  2. A teacher
  3. A doctor
  4. A religious leader

If you answered “doctor” you’re right. Your child’s behavior modification is now becoming the responsibility of science. According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, “hyperactivity” and “difficulty in paying attention” can be reduced in your child if you follow doctor’s orders.

In this case, doctor’s orders include one-on-one parent/child counseling with a “trained child development professional.” The one-on-one session essentially boils down to the professional observing parent-child interaction, commenting on it with the parent, then sending the parent home with a video of the session to review during the week. “At 3 years old, 50 percent fewer children in the video interaction group who were most at risk showed signs of hyperactivity compared with those who got standard pediatric care.”

Some educators are already praising the study for reflecting techniques that create “better students” in the classroom. Combine that with the push for academic excellence for kids as young as kindergarten and the prospect of pediatricians modifying child behavior takes on a seriously sinister note. After all, this study was performed on low income students, the same population that has been the primary target for educational changes at the federal level. Shaping a generation through education is one thing. When medicine gets involved the idea becomes downright creepy.

Even more than that, the study leaves us to question what role faith has, if any, in contemporary attitudes towards child behavior. Not that long ago parents employed moral biblical guidance to nip behavior issues in the bud. If they sought out professional reinforcement, it was usually from a pastor, priest or rabbi, not a doctor. Behavior was the stuff of religion, not science. Just ask all those kids who still wince at the thought of ruler-wielding nuns. I’m still convinced the apocalypse happened in my bedroom in 1993 when my mother found out I was maintaining a C-average in math because I wasn’t paying attention in class.

It’s a dangerous thing to put the medical field in charge of child behavioral issues. To be sure, there are instances when professional medical intervention is warranted. But for the often over-diagnosed, definitely over-medicated ADHD…in pursuit of the perfect student, no less? Whatever happened to God, the Bible, and all the parental disciplinary authority and household autonomy that go along with biblical faith?

Then again, if we’re putting our faith in science, I suppose the doctors are our gods. And, as is the case with those low-income test bunnies covered by Medicaid or Obamacare, the government that pays the bills lords over them all. I don’t quite remember reading this in Orwell, but it sounds vaguely familiar. The government that educates the child medicates the child … is that how it goes?