External Causes

6. Child-rearing–some children are not born hyperactive, but learn to behave that way in response to people or circumstances in their lives. For instance, a child may be born with a difficult temperament, and have the potential of becoming better or worse, depending on how his parents cope with him.

7. School failure–the diagnosis of hyperactivity often coincides with children’s inability to do well in school. For some children, the frustration of not being able to learn as well as other children leads them into taking on or strengthening inappropriate behaviors such as not paying attention, fidgeting, or carelessness. In addition, schools can aggravate children’s learning problems with noisy classrooms, unstructured settings, and erratic teaching styles.

8. Reaction to stress–children may adopt hyperactive behaviors as a reaction to stressful events in their lives. Once the stressor is removed or children learn to adjust to it, their behavior should go back to normal.

Some remoter possibilities explaining hyperactivity are fetal alcohol syndrome, brain damage, prenatal and perinatal stress, anoxia, maternal smoking, starvation, and environmental hazards such as fluorescent lighting and lead poisoning.

Current theories on the causes of hyperactivity:
-brain or central nervous system dysfunction
-developmental lag
-sex-linked hormones
-food additives.
-school failure
-reaction to stress.

These factors may occur either alone or in any number of possible combinations, from which every hyperactive child claims one.

A point for you to remember about causes is that they are interesting to know about, and relevant from a treatment perspective; however, try to avoid getting hung up on pinpointing the cause. There are better ways for you to spend your time. You could finish reading a book on the Feingold diet and be convinced that you’ve found the answer–until you read something else refuting the Feingold diet, or supporting some other cause, and you wouldn’t be any further ahead. What causes hyperactivity is still a controversial topic, and probably will continue to be for years to come.