Kids with ADHD are Hungry for Praise: Let's Feed Their Need
Posted Feb 13 2012 10:06pm
If you've visited the Easy to Love but Hard to Raise blog or Facebook page lately, you may have seen the announcement that books 2 and 3 in the “Easy to Love” series are in the works. Book 2 will be titled: Easy to Love but Hard to Teach, and will focus on the many challenges involved in getting our kids with ADHD and other "alphabet soup" diagnoses educated, from the perspective of adults involved in their educations—parents, teachers, school administrators, advocates, and so on. Adrienne Ehlert Bashista (my co-editor and the series' publisher) and I arrived at the decision to focus on education because in our many interactions with parents, both online and in person, problems with our neurodiverse kids and school seem to be incredibly prevalent, possibly the most prevalent of all special needs parenting issues. We hope that Easy to Love but Hard to Teach will illuminate the depth of the problems our kids face regarding school; offer potential solutions, big and small; and encourage alliances between parents, educators, and others for the sake of our kids.
I have my share of worries about how my daughter, Natalie, gets along at school, but I’ve also learned, through many of you, how wonderful our local school system and individual teachers are in comparison to some others around the country. You’ve helped me see how lucky we are to live in Ames, Iowa; to truly appreciate Natalie’s teachers and school. So, in the spirit of sharing solutions, big and small, I thought I’d brag about Mrs. McCasland, the special education teacher Natalie has worked with in fourth, and now fifth, grades.
For background, read this post (Don't All of Our Kids Deserve Teachers Like This?) about Natalie’s recent surge in anxiety, and the resulting urge to avoid going to school. One of Mrs. McCasland’s ideas for helping Natalie (and me!) through this rough patch was to schedule a 10-15 minute meeting on Wednesdays, just before the start of school, with Natalie, me, Mrs. McCasland, and Nat’s general ed classroom teacher, Ms. Trautmann, in attendance. The only item on this meeting’s agenda is heaping praise on Natalie for everything she’s doing right at school. We’ve met three times so far. I think this plan is brilliant, in so many ways • Our kids tend to be told “no,” corrected, and criticized way too often. Why not schedule a regular time to “catch them being good?”
• As parents, too often we hear only what our children are doing wrong in school. We need to hear what our kids are doing right, just as much as they do.
• In my search for solutions to Natalie's school avoidance, the best advice I found was to 1) make her go to school, and 2) reinforce that she was successful, that things were okay once she got there. This is a structured way to do just that, and to keep doing so on a regular basis.
• A before-school meeting gets the day off to a positive start. A mid-week meeting allows this to be a check-in about how the week is going, in addition to a cheerleading session to keep a child on a positive track.
Can you imagine suggesting this strategy to a super-negative teacher, and then role-modeling how to do it? Just think what an impact that could have, not just on your child, but on that teacher’s future students.
What do you think the reaction would be if you asked your child’s teachers/school administrators to commit to this kind of meetings? I dare you to try it!
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, despite all of Natalie’s struggles, it’s easy as pie to fill 15 minutes with nothing but good!
For more information about books 2 (Easy to Love but Hard to Teach) & 3 (Easy to Love but Hard to Treat) in the “Easy to Love” series and to see the complete call for submissions , visit drtpress.com.
Kay Marner is a freelance writer specializing in ADHD, its common comorbid conditions, and special needs parenting. Marner co-edited . She's a regular contributor to ADDitude magazine, and writes an ADHD parenting blog, My Picture-Perfect Family , for ADDitudeMag.com