“Please pay attention…get on task…focus! Do you hear me?”
As a mother of a teenager who struggled with attention deficit disorder (a label he hates even now), I thought I had the best information and tools in my arsenal. I read many of the books and even became certified to coach parents of attention deficit disorder or hyperactive disorder ADD/ADHD children.
What I did not realize is the real root cause of inattentiveness; nor how to positively impact my son’s environment enough to support him in developing attention skills. I also needed to view some of his behaviors as normal because his brain was doing something that would prove invaluable later on in his life.
The parent coaching certification program I completed never addressed infant or child brain development or research – it was simply so long ago. Back then, the focus was on mainly behavior outcomes and educational reform advocacy.
Today, I know so much more! Some of the behaviors infants and toddlers display is actually necessary for orientating, maintaining, and controlling or regulating their attention skills. Patience and understanding is what is needed during the so-called terrible twos. Although it looks like an unnecessary tantrum, the brain is busy at work in reconstructing that child’s neural patterns. This is when the child is developing their patience, controlling emotions, and directing their focus.
As a middle school teacher with this understanding, I am grateful for the opportunity to positively impact my student’s environment by:
- providing opportunities to make the best of their attention skills with curriculum and activities that consider their specific needs
- passing on my knowledge and encouraging parents to reinforce healthier nutrition and regular bedtimes (proper sleep is vital to brain cell development)
- providing a safe environment in my classroom – free of the big 5 (fear, hunger, abuse, neglect, or depression)
This mean social/emotional learning is taking place in addition to academics. In my opinion, this is the real ‘no child left behind’ initiative – because they all matter. Not an easy undertaking but a necessary one. I am responsible for teaching in a manner that raises the bar for them socially, emotionally, and intellectually.
As for my son who is now 18 years old, it isn’t too late to positively impact his growth and development. All it takes is to continue to provide a structured nurturing environment, and encourage consistent open communication. So far, it’s going well.
Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski