"A wise man guards his attention
as his most precious possession."
Attention is one of our most precious gifts and yet it seems to be endangered in our modern society. The rate of diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is skyrocketing. In the US, more than 10 million school-age children are currently being medicated to help them focus. Even preschoolers are now being identified as needing medication to pay attention.
Is this a real epidemic or a reflection of the pressures of society and our need for quick fixes? The answer is not so straightforward. Standardized testing and rigid educational norms haves left no room for the diverse ways children learn. This assembly-line mentality has unfairly labeled children with ADHD. On the other hand, it is clear that many children have adapted to our fast paced over-stimulated world and are indeed struggling to pay attention in a calm flexible way.
If you have a child who is finding it difficult to focus, you may be feeling the pressures to medicate him or her. While for some children this may be a short-term solution, all too often this commits a child to a lifetime of medication. I have found that we can do better than that. Attention can be trained. For thousands of years, every culture has valued the qualities of calm attention and developed ways to cultivate it. This ability reflects the power of our brain to re-shape itself (neuroplasticity). I describe practical solutions for developing each child's attention based on his or her adaptive style in my new book Fire Child Water Child.
My approach to training attention begins by discovering what your child’s particular nature or adaptive style is. Using the Five Phase model of Chinese Medicine, we can map out a solution specific to your child nature. This system generates simple practical advice for parents that incorporates nutrition, exercise, meditation, acupuncture, biofeedback, herbs and supplements. But remember, one size does not fit all kids.