Last night the lovely Doctor came and had tea with us. She’s on a placement in Community Paediatrics at the moment, where a lot of her time is spent with children with behavioural problems. Many are diagnosed with ADHD.
The Doctor had much sympathy with my theory about the high prevalence of ADHD diagnoses in the inner city. Round here almost every other child seems to have ADHD. I know that it is a real problem for some kids. But I also see a big issue with sleep that I think needs fixing.
A good few mums I’ve talked to don’t ‘do bedtime’ with their children. They ‘send them up to bed’ where they watch the telly until they fall asleep. Or they let them keep going until they conk out. And often that’s 9 or 10 o’clock – for a five year old. There seems to be an inclination to let the children direct their own sleep patterns.
But my kids would never go to bed by themselves if I didn’t force them to. And all three, including the now eight year old Queen, need Mum or Dad up at their bedside tucking them in and saying goodnight and a blessing before they’ll give up the fight. I’ve tried it with the Queen recently. ‘Up you go to bed’ I say. And there she is again, lurking at the bottom of the stairs.
My kids seem to need lots of sleep – 11 1/2 hours for the Queen (age 8 1/2), 12 hours for the Joker (age 7) and 12 1/2 hours for the Engineer (age 5). That looks like it’s more than what seems to be recommended. And you know what trouble I have getting them up in the mornings, even when I have put them to bed at an approximately appropriate time. So I wonder if the lateness issue with many kids at our school is actually a bedtime issue. They say that ‘the battle of the blankets is won the night before’ (that’s the same people who told me about Christians on their way to heaven btw).
In many Asian and African cultures, the late bedtime seems to be a norm. Kids often go to bed at the same time as their parents. So it’s not always obvious how to change that in a multi cultural area. But they must be growing up sleep deprived and a recent article I read indicates that a lack of sleep has a severe effect on intelligence, behaviour and obesity – which are just the problems we see all too frequently in the inner city.
Time for everyone to go to bed, I think.