Pediatricians are worried because some parents use Melatonin to help their children get to sleep at night. (The Wall Street Journal, Sunday, June 30, 2013: a magic sleeping pill for children? By Jennifer. Breheny Wallace).That’s all we need: kids drugged at night by their parents and then turned over to electronic games during the day where they may also become addicted.
In a small number of cases, when a physician recommends this regimen ,use of melatonin or other sleep aids may be indicated for short period of time. But for most kids good sleep habits come from a good family habits. As I pointed out in The Digital Pandemic, Children love structure and that means regular bedtimes and regular meal times. Regular study times need to be included, because otherwise the child may be anxious or stressed about school.
I am amazed at the number of children I see out late at night at baseball games, restaurants and community recreation events. They are over-tired and over-stimulated because it’s way past a reasonable bedtime and they are excited to be included in adult activities .
Most parents realize that their children need this structure but are so unstructured themselves that they can’t follow through. This gets back to narcissism and the need to have pleasure at each and every moment without contemplating the big picture.
Parents mean well and love their children, but they are often encouraged to be “flexible” and to disregard the structure that helped them grow up in a physically and mentally healthy manner. It’s no wonder children dive into electronic games. The games provide some degree of structure, meaning, and control. Kids are able to impose the kind of control their parents should be imposing and the kids relish it .
Suggestion: unless insomnia is a serious and chronic malady that requires treatment by a physician, administration of sleeping aids to kids may be a big mistake .