Kids are falling behind.
ADHD is on the rise and more and more kids are being diagnosed and “treated” i.e. drugged.
If children don’t meet set standards or seem to lag behind their peers in learning, they must have an IEP, maybe an OT, as well as extra tutoring.
If they seem lacking in self-esteem (gee, I wonder why THAT would happen?) we must be sure to praise them, do esteem-building exercises or in extreme cases send them away to a camp designed to “help” these kids.
We hear such statements all the time. I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with the parent of a schooled child in elementary school when one or all of the above statements was not mentioned in some form.
What each and every one of those statements really says, if we choose to listen, is that most kids need fixing. Parents are told their child is deficient, broken, lacking; and then they are told what to do to fix them. None of the solutions involves a focus on the parent/child connection, or more time with family or time away from the system of schooling.
The proposed solutions all look outward and are directed away from the family. Drugs, tutors, camps, evaluations, OT’s, therapists. The list is long and can quickly become very expensive and time consuming.
A friend of mine was recently told that her 9 y.o. son would benefit from a 5 week Outward Bound style sleep away camp that is “very nurturing” and “great for self-esteem”. Oh, and it’s seven thousand dollars.
Really? Nurturing? Self-esteem?
How about this for a solution. How about we stop believing that our kids are broken and need fixing. How about we accept them for who they are and how they learn, fully and without caveat. How about we have a community bonfire and encourage parents to bring every negative evaluation, every IEP, every statement from any expert who said there was something wrong with a child who doesn’t want to sit still all day or who can’t read Proust – or even Dick and Jane – at the age of five. Or six. Or seven.
How about we realize that sending our kids off to weeks and weeks of “nurturing, self-esteem building” sleep away camps for thousands of dollars will never be as good as a nurturing home environment in which children feel celebrated and accepted for who they are, instead of constantly scrutinized and reminded of who they should be.
Perhaps we should slow down and listen. Realize that the solutions given by the system rarely solve; they only patch or conceal. Listen to your kids. Listen to yourself.
You might be surprised at what you hear.