In handling ADHD, American parents should look to the French

kids splashing in a puddleA shocking 9 percent of U.S. kids are diagnosed and medicated for ADHD, compared to 0.5 percent of French kids. What's causing the big difference?

Several years ago, a fascinating book came out called Bringing Up Bébé. Written by an American woman named Pamela Druckerman who lives and raises her kids in France, the book explores the many ways in which the French, as a whole culture, parent differently than the Americans (and Canadians, since that’s where I live and see the many similarities in parenting styles).

The biggest difference between France and the United States is the approach to routine and structure in children’s lives. While the French implement a strict daily routine from the very beginning and expect their children to fit into a parent-determined lifestyle, American families are usually child-centric, with parents accommodating their children’s needs and desires.

This stereotypical American parenting style, however, may have a serious downside. An article in Psychology Today attributes the relatively low levels of ADHD in French children in part to the presence of structure in their lives. Because their parents insist that they learn self-control from an early age by enforcing limits and are supported in this by the education system, fewer French children develop behavioral problems that reach the point of requiring medication.

Read more here.