Creative Child

Learn How to Slow Down in a Fast-Paced World

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It is essential for kids to learn the ability to shift emotional and physiological gears. Remaining stuck at a high state of stress, or physiological arousal, circumvents the necessary emotional and physical development they need in order to grow into well-balanced and competent adults that can successfully navigate the hurdles and stresses of the outside world. Some brain researchers believe that a brain that is in a constant state of high-arousal eventually has a more difficult task physiologically calming down and it can eventually lose the ability to shift arousal states. Additionally, constantly exposing the brain to a high degree of stimulation, anxiety and arousal can train the brain to only crave and work efficiently at that speedy pace.

The result of other research notes that the brain goes through specific tasks in order to encode information into its long-term memory. Living in a fast paced, highly stimulating environment can impede this process. One study looked at high school and found that students who had a five minute passing period in-between classes had trouble storing the material from the previous class into their long-term memory because the brain could not go through the necessary processes to encode the information and appropriately imprint it. The study further reflected that those students who were given twenty, or thirty minutes between classes could better retain the information.

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The "Faster, please!" mentality may also contribute to the rise of or exacerbate attention issues such as ADHD. While there are several contributing factors for diagnosing ADHD, including genetic predisposition and early trauma, there are three significant diagnostic markers of this disorder: inattention, distractibility and hyperactivity. There is no question that environment plays a significant role in behavior and when a society reinforces the same qualities that it later needs to treat as a disorder, we have set up a vicious cycle that is hard to address and treat, for both parents and clinicians.

In later family sessions I talked to Daniel and Linda about the changes they instituted in their household. They told me that when I asked them to look at their hectic lifestyle and the potential negative impact it had on them and their children, they thought I was unrealistic. However, now they watch a little less television, the computer does not act as the babysitter and that the quantity in their life has been replaced by quality. Mom and Dad have even come up with a silly reminder to change their pace by asking each other what gear they are in when the door to the outside world closes and the family time begins. For Daniel, Linda, your children and mine: "Slow down, please!"

Disclaimer:The advice in this article is not meant to act as professional advice or counseling for your particular set of circumstances. It is designed for general knowledge. It is recommended that if you feel you need individual assistance for you, or your family, that you seek the advice and intervention of a licensed professional that can provide help for your particular set of circumstances.

Originally published in Creative Child Magazine February 8, 2010.

Related Article: 8 Positive Parenting Tips

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