Book Review: Please Don’t Label My Child

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I picked up this book, Please Don’t Label My Child, a couple of weeks ago at my local library. It was an impulse buy of sorts. I’m prone to those – particularly at the library.  And boy am I glad I am, because this book was fantastic.  It’s really much better than the title implies (it is not a rant against psychiatric diagnoses, labels, and drugs), but a thoughtful, common-sense, easy-to-read essay on kids and what affects them:

  • Poor eating habits/malnutrition
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stressors in the home
  • Stressors at school/with friends
  • Lack of exposure to sunlight

The author, Dr. Scott Shannon, posits that it is often these factors that negatively affect kids’ ability to concentrate, manage stress, and cope with worry – and NOT an organic psychiatric condition like ADHD, depression, or bipolar disorder.

While I don’t doubt the existence of psychiatric and emotional disorders in kids, I do think we sometimes overlook more basic explanations for maladaptive behavior.  After all, do any of us really function all that great when we are sleep deprived, grieved over the loss of a marriage, struggling with financial insecurity, or lack (for whatever reason) wholesome, nutritious foods?  Of course we don’t. And neither do children, whose systems are even more fragile than ours.

In our super crazy, complex world I appreciate straightforward answers and solutions.  Dr. Shannon’s book gives us just that. While there are many children and families who need more intensive interventions (therapy, medication) perhaps there are many, too, whose struggles can be aided by the relatively simple solutions offered in this book.

I recommend this book whole-heartedly for health practitioners, as well as parents who are concerned about some aspect of their child’s behavior.  It is a great first step in making some relatively small changes that can make a big difference.

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