A New School Year…A Time to Learn or a Time to Dread?
Ideally, for most parents, a new school year brings the pride and feeling of accomplishment of seeing their children grow and mature in aptitude, knowledge, and social skills. For some parents, however, it only brings long nights of homework, calls from the teacher, frustrated and discouraged children, and parenting fights about whose fault “all of this” is. There is also the pain of watching your child sink deeper and deeper into believing that they are not smart, are a “bad boy or girl”, and as a person, are not worth much. No parent or child should ever have to experience this.
A typical school year requires sustained attention, sitting quietly, and refined social skills. Some children are not capable of this. One mother from Orange County recently told me: “I’m worried… Sammy had such an awful time in second grade last year.” Sammy had spent the year grounded in the classroom… no recess, no field trips, no parties, all because he constantly was behind in his work. ” We were constantly doing homework or tutoring, and he was still behind,” she continued. To add to his academic problems, Sammy had spent most of second grade in social isolation, even when he was free from being “grounded” in the classroom. He was the last one picked for teams, and the first one to be teased. This downward spiral in confidence, spreading from one part of life to another, is tragic.
A very significant possibility exists that some or all of the conditions described above are being caused by a disorder called ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder). This disorder is caused by a minor neurological imbalance (not parenting style!), and for the vast majority of those with ADHD (as we shall see shortly), can be corrected relatively easily. What makes the aforementioned tragic self-image even more unacceptable is the fact that the opposite is usually true. Individuals with ADHD (ADD) typically have a higher-than-average IQ, and although sometimes hidden behind the disorder, a very pleasant disposition.
Whenever such problems are occurring, it is extremely important to determine if ADHD is behind them, as soon as it is possible. Don’t wait until your child’s first report card to initiate testing or treatment because, by then, your child is already significantly behind. If there’s one thing harder for a child with ADHD than school, it is the downward sliding struggle to catch up.
Unfortunately, many parents of children with ADHD, or those who suspect that it might be present, avoid testing and treatment because of their understandable dread of what they think must be the inevitable “drug” solution. Fortunately, for most individuals, there is a much better alternative.
This treatment is called neurofeedback– an effective, drug-free, painless procedure in which the child learns to re-train the attention mechanisms of the brain, alleviating the condition. Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.
As parents, we do have a choice as to whether this year will be a time for learning, full of joy and pride, or another year of dread… for both our children and ourselves. What will your choice be?