Sunday, January 30, 2011

How can I help a child make a fresh start?

Ms. Dorothy, 
Here is a kid in fifth grade. He has always seemed to get in some trouble. Mostly impulse control, social ineptness, but big enough for other teachers to remember. Now he has the self image of a kiddo who is problematic + he's really disorganized. How do I get him ready to start middle school so he can have a fresh start?
- An Aunt

What a great positive approach.  In life, we are given a few opportunities to start fresh and re-invent ourselves, and transitioning between schools is certainly one!

Knowing that impulse control and disorganization are a part of many people's lives, but are not who they are, is a key to moving past the worry. 

Have him look over a list of symptoms for ADD or ADHD and see what things he has in common and what things he doesn't.  The sense of control that is possible when you know you are "normal" and can choose what you manifest is very powerful.

At the same time, there are many diet changes, organization systems, and focus techniques that are used to support children who struggle with these symptoms, and he may find those helpful too.

You may find the book Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World has some interesting ideas for supporting him.

Whatever you decide to try, a great move for him would be to approach his middle school teachers and explain that he is aware of his issues and that he is making efforts to grow and improve himself. Asking for the teacher's support and understanding will demonstrate maturity and self-efficacy and may win him the favor of those he has to work with for the next few  years.

Remember too, that sharing your own experiences with becoming organized, or thinking before acting, will help him to see that he is not alone and that many successful adults fought these same battles in school.

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