Thursday, March 18, 2010

Therapy Thursday - I am a Bad Student

No, my daughter is not a bad student and for the record, I have never used that term. My daughter is very verbal, outgoing and not shy. While these traits will serve her well as an adult, it's not exactly the traits to have when you are supposed to be sitting in a classroom, listening and learning.

Adults can barely multi-task so imagine a seven year old, listening and talking at the same time.  I have to assume she is only hearing a small percentage of what is actually being taught in class.

That said, I have been trying to reinforce the importance of focusing and listening in class and of course, she agrees that it is important but unfortunately it does not seem to translate.

After the parent-teacher conference, she asked how it went and I told her it went fine which is true but she still needs to work on listening and focusing in class. Upon hearing this, she broke down into tears and said "I am a bad student."

Needless to say, I spent the remainder of the walk home consoling her and trying to reassure her that she is a good student, an outstanding reader, a great scientist per the Assistant Principal's comment on her report card which got her excited. She truly loves science.

I brought this up at my therapy session this week. Dr. R brought to my attention that while I think I am reinforcing the importance of focusing in class, I am most likely creating more anxiety for my daughter. In addition, it is obvious that my daughter truly cares about my being proud of her and wants me to be happy. And I am creating a situation in which there is an expectation to answer the question correctly and if she doesn't provide suitable responses  she will continue to think/internalize that  she is a bad student.

Hard to hear but she is right. I thought about the number of questions I run through just to get a status report everyday and it's like the inquisition with me.

"How was circle time? Did you raise your hand to answer a question? Did you ask a question when you didn't understand something? How was the listening? Any trips to the closet?" and so on.

Who wouldn't be anxious if you had to answer that barrage of questions at the dinner table or on the way home from school.

Dr. R suggested that I reframe the question so as to not put so much anxiety into our daily conversations by asking "What happened at school today that you felt good about?"

So I took her advice and I must admit, that my daughter did provide tons of information about her day. How the focusing and listening gets done is whole another question but at least I won't be creating an atmosphere of anxiety for my daughter.


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