In the USA, where nine percent of children are diagnosed with ADHD the answer tends to be yes, it’s a biological disorder and should be treated with medication, most commonly stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall. In France, only one half of one percent of children receive that same diagnosis. Behavioral problems are often addressed with a holistic approach of dietary modifications, such as eliminating preservatives and artificial colorings.
French parents tend to be much more strict, insisting on discipline in general, and excellent behavior at meals. Snacking between meals is strictly prohibited, and wholesome, multi-course meals are enjoyed for both lunch and dinner, even in the school cafeteria. Even preschoolers are expected to sit still and eat with a knife and fork.
Many behaviors that are pathologized by American doctors are considered part of normal childhood behaviors and dealt with as disciplinary, not medical matters. Schools and families both are run in a strict, hierarchical manner. In the evenings, adults prioritize their own time. Children are welcome to join in – if they behave. As for discipline – well, the French prefer the word educate. Learning how to wait politely and how to play by themselves quietly is considered an important part of that education. Could American children benefit from a more French style education?