You get a phone call. Ivan is in the principal’s office. You can’t believe you’ll have to ask your boss to let you leave early again to pick him up. When will this end? Will you get fired if he keeps this up? What will people think? Why isn’t Ivan getting it? You start to think how your friends might be right about looking into ADHD medication…
You are not alone. You are also not to blame. And, what if Ivan is not to blame either?
We’ve said it before: 11 percent of children are diagnosed with ADHD and we are not convinced this is accurate. We have a tendency to treat symptoms and neglect the cause. And by “we” I mean parents, teachers, adults, and professionals.
When our expectations aren’t met, we react.
But what are we doing to be proactive?
As the adults responsible for the daily lives of our children, we must constantly ask ourselves – are we setting our kids up for success?
Kids today are expected to remain attentive, participate and comply at school for seven hours a day, five days a week. A school day may include taking tests, meeting deadlines, and managing peer relationships and interactions.
It can be a lot to navigate for a kid. Especially for one who might be triggered by all of the above.
A child may appear to have ADHD when really he may be getting flashbacks of being bullied at his orphanage. Or of a difficult time when he didn’t feel in control. After all, his experience might be that adults can’t be trusted. Maybe he is simply unable to sit for long periods of time because all he knows is “fight or flight” mode.
Behavior and “symptoms” are not happening in a vacuum. The most important thing we can do is know our kiddos and empathize with them.
What is their emotional age? Where are they at developmentally? What traumas have they experienced? What are their triggers? What are their coping skills?
On a large scale, schools should be considering these questions more often. When we have the answers to these questions we are better prepared. We are thinking proactively. We can know what to expect. The best thing we can do is set Ivan up for success and build on that.
So, my question is: are our expectations too high? And if we “get it” – is school getting it?
Is Ivan being sent home because he is a “bad kid” or is something triggering him? What’s underlying the behavior? What is school doing to take into account his unique needs while educating him?
Perhaps, unknowingly, each school day is setting Ivan up for failure.
Ivan might not need a pill or a consequence. He might just need the benefit of the doubt.
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