When it comes to learning how to raise our children, is there any greater authority than situation comedies? I learned so much from “Full House,” “Saved By the Bell” and “Charles in Charge.” My current source of wisdom is “Last Man Standing” which is teaching me how to be a grandfather. A recent episode was especially thought-provoking.
The grandson was being disruptive at his elementary school and was evaluated by a counselor. Medication was prescribed to control his antics. Before he could pop the first pill, grandpa intervened. He hosed down the backyard to make a hockey rink. Soon the grandson was firing the puck on net. His behavior improved in class and the meds stayed on the shelf.
I was floored by the grandpa’s wisdom and wondered if this could work for other boys. It made me think that the rise in medication for kids could be curbed by giving them physical outlets. Then I flashed back to my own childhood. My friends and I were so crazy in the classroom – what mayhem would have occurred if we hadn’t been playing daily year-round sports?
Unlike kids today, we played outside as much as possible and it still wasn’t enough to burn off our disruptive energy. These days we would have been put on heavy meds. Restraints and Tasers would have also been considered. Maybe the problem wasn’t our boyish behavior – maybe grade school wasn’t designed with boys in mind.
That was the opinion of a veteran elementary teacher I know. She cut her boys a lot of slack, because they had too much energy to sit still. She allowed them to roughhouse at recess and bring frogs to class they had found on the way to school. Her heart went out to boys, because she thought the classroom was too restrictive for them.
Another teacher I consulted had boys on medication that obviously needed it. She said that no parent wanted to take that step and there were obvious side-effects. The meds would suppress their emotions, along with their appetites. She would notice weight loss and a lack of vibrancy. However, if they didn’t take their meds, they would disturb the entire class.
I’m not saying exercise can relieve the need for medication but could there be a correlation between reduced activity and the rise in prescriptions? Even in their free time, most boys aren’t playing outside like we did. They’re watching screens and playing video games. I’ve seen my own son do this and by the end of the day he’s downright restless.
So, let’s not ignore sit-com wisdom. Before we give our boys meds to calm their antics, let’s try making a rink, setting up a hoop or taking them to the ball field. I remember what my father did when I was getting out of control. He took me to the park and made me run laps. This not only calmed me down, it led to my running track and cross-country in high school. He probably got the idea from “Father Knows Best.”
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.