In an excerpt of her article “Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD”, Dr. Marilyn Wedge, a family therapist, is quoted as saying “How come the epidemic of ADHD — which has become firmly established in the United States — has almost completely passed over children in France?” French children have an almost nonexistent record of ADHD, while nearly 9% of American children are diagnosed with ADHD in the United States.
Many seem to believe that the answer to ADHD, and parenting well-behaved children in general, is to take on the French way of Parenting. French children are healthy, have fewer temper tantrums, eat what is put in front of them and are taught to be independent. If you’re hoping to bring the benefits of French parenting into your home, implement the following cornerstones of the French way of parenting.
French parents feed their children whole foods. In America, the healthy and non-processed food craze is a trend that is catching on quickly. However, in France, it’s simply a way of life. Children are not given separate kid-friendly meals like mac and cheese and chicken nuggets — children eat what the parents eat without complaint. When planning your menu, focus on healthy items that would be pleasing to an adult palate without making special accommodations for children. This will force them to develop a more mature palette at a younger age and be able to see food as what it is — sustenance, rather than a fun way to pass the time.
One snack per day
Unlike American children, French children aren’t allowed to have snacks whenever it strikes their fancy throughout the day. The French don’t snack, much to the surprise of Americans, this also includes French children. The French eat four meals per day, served mainly at the same time every day. The third meal, which is called the gouter, is the closest thing the French have to a snack. It’s the smallest meal and typically consists of a small sampling of cheese, bread and a piece of fruit. Another popular gouter is simply a piece of bread with a spread such as Nutella or jam.
For the most part, French children are polite, well-mannered and patient. The patience they are taught is what makes a French child seem much more mature than an American child of the same age. Many American parents constantly feel frazzled and stressed, especially if there are several children in the room screaming for mom’s attention. French parents teach their children patience and are typically unwilling to answer a child if they’re interrupting a conversation or are acting out to get attention.
They try their best to teach their children patience from the earliest stages of life starting with the “cry it out” method in infancy. In America, the “cry it out” method is rather controversial. But, in France it isn’t a method – it’s simply the normal parenting standard. Children are taught to wait their turn: no amount of crying, whining or fit-throwing will change the fact that the parent is busy, and will tend to the child as soon as they can, rather than dropping everything this very instance.