Welcome. Doc Smo here, your pedcast host. I had an amazingly gratifying experience recently that I want to share with you, especially if your child is struggling in school. In today’s pedcast, we are going to talk about some simple parenting task that is bound to help your children. Curious about what those tasks could be? Then stay tuned to learn more in today’s installment of Portable Practical Pediatrics.
A Routine Talk Turns Extraordinary
Recently, I was asked to speak to a group of parents of “at risk children” who had come to a family education evening to talk about how to maximize their children’s performance in school. We talked about the research that has been discussed on this blog many times. Specifically, I wanted to stress the factors that parents have control of that have been shown to improve a child’s academic achievement;
-Keeping TV’s out of a child’s bedroom and limiting screen time
-Getting an adequate amount of physical activity and unstructured play
-Having a diet rich with unprocessed foods
Well, the night this event occurred was actually the second time I had spoken at this church and talked about this topic.
I thought my first talk with this group of parents had gone pretty well but I had no idea of how well. At the onset of my next visit with these parents, an amazing thing happened. Before we got into the talk, an older gentleman raised his hand and told me he had a testimonial to share. That’s what he called it, a “Testimonial”. He told the audience and me that he and his wife were raising their grandson who was currently in 4th grade and not doing very well academically. He said that he and his wife had decided, after hearing my first talk, to try getting their grandson a structured regular bedtime, free of screens and junk food to see what would happen. Specifically, they wanted to get him to bed early enough for him to get up the next morning without a fight. That was their goal. To do this, they completely restructured his bedtime: they removed the TV from his room and cut off screen time after 7pm. they insisted that he was to eat all of his food at dinner and was to get nothing no more after that. Bedtime was set at 8pm and enforced. Lights out and time to sleep.
After doing all of this, they said the transition was nothing short of miraculous. He almost immediately stopped fighting about getting ready for school in the morning and actually woke up in the morning on his own. He also stopped fighting about going to sleep. And the best thing is that his grades showed an immediate improvement. Whereas he had been struggling to keep up in school, now he was getting good grades! They said even his personality was more pleasant. They attributed all of this great stuff to him having a regular bedtime and adequate sleep. They had no idea that not having a structured bedtime, letting him play video games late into the evening, eating junk food at night, and falling asleep in front of screens was so detrimental to him.
An Amazing Statistic
Some of you may have read the book Nurture Shock. I wrote a book review about it a few years ago. Listen to this shocking statistic that the authors of Nurture Shock discovered: a school aged child who has a one hour sleep deprivation on a chronic basis will, on average, perform 2 years younger than their chronologic age cognitively. That means that a 6th grader will perform like a 4th grader academically if they get 1 hour less sleep at night on a chronic basis. Clearly, sleep deprivation is having a major impact on a young child’s brain. Case closed and the young man in this story was probably a good example of sleep deprivation that was cognitively impairing. Whatever it was, it is great to see him doing so much better in school.
A Parents Call to Action
So here is my call to action for parents who have not developed a structured and consistent bedtime for their children. You can do this. Come on, you have this. You make the rules. Be the parent and make sure you exert your authority. If you are having trouble with creating and enforcing bedtime with your children, grab the throttle, adjust the controls, trim the sails and make sure that you establish a healthy bedtime that will allow your children to maximize their school potential, grow, and thrive. It’s vital for their well being both today, and in their future. Your children deserve your best.
As always, thank you for joining me today. I always value your input so feel free to send in your comments. I will share them with others on my blog. If you like what you get with pedcasts, please take a moment to share an episode, like our Facebook page, or even write a short review on iTunes, now called Apple Podcasts. Doing any of these things help others find our blog and podcast. This is Doc Smo, recording in studio 1E, hoping it is not a big leap, to ensure that your children get a good nights sleep. Until next time.