Parenting

Are We Overdiagnosing Our Children?

I’ll preface this post by saying I’m not an expert in child development. I am a Registered Nurse, and I am a mother. Those two things have caused me to wonder if perhaps our society nowadays has gone overboard on diagnosing children with disorders, and while I’m not saying that some kids don’t have serious issues, I’m just asking are we too quick to label everything as something when maybe it’s not?

When my first child was three years old she became very particular with what she wore. It was almost exasperating to me. Honestly, on the days we were in a hurry it was horrible. She didn’t like anything too tight. She refused to wear denim jeans. I had to buy all her panties in bigger sizes as the elastic bothered her, and she couldn’t stand the seam line of the toe of her socks to touch her feet. In my frustration I reached out to other moms on social media and quickly was informed about Sensory Perception Disorder by multiple friends. I do appreciate their concern and help, but something about that didn’t set right with me at the time. And I wondered, why does it have to have a diagnosis? Isn’t that just a kid thing?

I decided to just let her pick her own clothes and not be overly concerned. Three years later and she wears anything. Jeans, tight socks, whatever. So was she cured of her disorder, or did she just outgrow it?

I’m not saying there’s not such a thing as Sensory Perception Disorder, but I am saying that I think society today conditions us to be quick to diagnose our children with a problem, or to label them in some way. Kids who learn better in motion or adventure are termed ADHD, and I understand that controlling a classroom of thirty kids is tough, but it’s a fact that some children aren’t wired to sit still. As we’ve increased curriculum requirements, especially at a young age, we’ve taken away time for healthy movement and play. The kids who need that physical outlet are sometimes incorrectly termed ADHD. Are they simply energetic and kinetic learners?

Once again, I’m not saying there are not kids with ADHD, but don’t you find it odd how the number of children being medicated for this disorder has grown exponentially in the last 20-30 years? So the question is are we just able to recognize it more readily, or are we more conditioned to seek it out?

If a girl child is a tomboy, or a boy child is gentle and nurturing, do they necessarily have an issue with gender identity? Or are they just kids being kids in all kinds of wonderful ways? I had a cousins when I was little who barked all the time, but no one tried to help him identify as a dog.

My second child, age four, is so different from my first, and I find myself sometimes worrying if everything is ok? Why isn’t she a social butterfly like my oldest child? Does she have a social disorder? Why does she cry when she can’t tie her shoes? Is she processing her emotions properly?

I don’t know. But sometimes I think I worry about these things because society has taught me to. Instead of saying my child is shy, or my child is sensitive, I seek a diagnosis or a label so that maybe someone can fix the problem if there is one. What ever happened to just saying a kid is a kid who’s still developing socially, emotionally, and spiritually? I do believe that true social and emotional conditions and issues exist with children, but I’m afraid as parents we’ve become accustomed to think we must be on guard for something amiss. We’re constantly on the lookout wondering if our child is “normal,” whatever that means, and in the midst of throwing them into societal norms and molds we’ve lost the celebration of how God makes each person a unique and special creation.

So if your child is a “cryer” perhaps you should anticipate how God can use their specific personality for His kingdom, and pray to cultivate how God has designed them rather than try and change it.

If they’re “shy” don’t push them to be more outgoing, but instead create environments that foster their sensitivity and artistry.

Perhaps consider homeschooling if your child is having difficulties learning in their current concrete and restricted learning environment.

I’m not saying to ignore serious issues. Keep watch. That’s one of our jobs as parents. But maybe we should stop being so worried. Maybe we could lay off on trying to find a label or diagnosis for every little quirk, and instead celebrate the beautiful child before us.

Brie Gowen
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Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at BrieGowen.com.

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