How an 'electronics fast' could curb your child's aggression
A child psychiatrist has shared her prescription for an electronics intervention designed to help a child who is prone to rages and angry outbursts to sleep better, focus and beat meltdowns.
Writing in Psychology Today, award-winning integrative child psychiatrist Victoria L. Dunckley, MD warned that chronically irritable children "are often in a state of abnormally high arousal and may seem 'wired and tired'."
"That is, they’re agitated but exhausted. Because chronically high arousal levels impact memory and the ability to relate, these kids are also likely to struggle academically and socially."
Dr Dunckley says that children like this are often incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder or ADHD, but a simple one-month electronics fast (no television, internet, video games, consoles etc.) could reset the nervous system and allow them to flourish once more. It's not easy to enforce, but the benefits far outweigh the short-term arguments and it does get easier (for both children and parents) as the weeks go on.
"If done correctly, this intervention can produce deeper sleep, a brighter and more even mood, better focus and organisation, and an increase in physical activity. The ability to tolerate stress improves, so meltdowns diminish in both frequency and severity." says Dr Dunckley.
Because computer and television screens mimic daylight, they force the body to suppress melatonin. Remove that screen and kids grow tired when they're supposed to... and sleep for longer. The hyper-arousal caused by TV and video games can also lead to depression, poor focus and aggression.
"Restricting electronics may not solve everything, but it’s often the missing link in treatment when kids are stuck." says Dr Dunckley.
Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. is the author of Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills, available here.