New York, March 7: Are you making your toddler
an over-achiever? Beware! According to a new study, the increasing
academic stress on younger children is likely to be the reason behind
the high prevalence of attention-deficit disorder.
from the University of Miami in the US hypothesized that increased
academic standards since the 1970s have contributed to the rise in
diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
time spent studying to enrolment rates in pre-primary programmes,
everything had increased, and not surprisingly, in the past 40 years
also saw ADHD diagnoses double, the study revealed.
showed that from 1981 to 1997, time spent teaching three to
five-year-olds letters and numbers increased 30 percent.
the percentage of young children enrolled in full-day programmes
increased from 17 percent in 1970 to 58 percent in the mid-2000s.
six to eight-year-olds in 1997 saw time spent on homework increase to
more than two hours a week, when a decade earlier their peers were
studying less than an hour.
"When we researched educational and
public policy literature for studies that documented time children spent
on academic activities, we were alarmed to find how substantially
education had changed since the '70s," said Jeffrey P. Brosco, professor
at the University of Miami.
While ADHD is a neurobiological
condition, it is influenced by age-dependent behaviours and demands of
the environment, the researchers noted.
As academic activities
have increased, time for playing and leisure has decreased, resulting in
some children being seen as outliers and ultimately being diagnosed
"We feel that the academic demands being put on young children are negatively affecting a portion of them," Brosco added.
example, beginning kindergarten a year early doubles the chance that a
child will need medications for behavioural issues," he said.
study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, should not be seen as maligning
full-day programming or education for young children. Children should,
however, participate in learning activities that are developmentally age
appropriate, the researchers suggested.
At such a young age, he
adds, what's most important is that kids experience free play, social
interactions and use of imagination.