My Child Would Rather Play Than Work
By Dr. Joseph Gianesin, Behavioral Consultant
I have an 8-year-old girl (who is a twin). I have separated the girls for the first time this year. I put my one twin daughter in a very "low maintenance" classroom, as she is a self-starter, and does not need a lot of supervision. She is doing very well.
However, my other daughter went to a very structured classroom, as she is a bit of a socializer and would rather play than do her work. She is also very bright. Her teacher and I are both frustrated with her because we both know that she is very capable of going above and beyond the work that she is doing, yet she chooses to take the easy way out and does just enough to get by.
If you sit with her, she does reach the standard that her teacher and I know that she is capable of. She is easily distracted, daydreams and has problems with concentration. Her father and brother have both been diagnosed with ADD. Her pediatrician refuses to test her, saying he has known her since birth and would have seen signs of this as she has grown.
How do I get my daughter to achieve her full potential?
You have done a great service to both girls by recognizing their differences and individual strengths. That will be a wonderful gift to them as they mature into independent young women.
The daughter you are most concerned about has good ability to understand and complete the school work when she receives extra attention and is under adult scrutiny. That demonstrates that she can do the work; however, the motivation to do it independently is not there.
The symptoms you described - easily distracted, daydreams, and difficulty in concentration - may in fact be a mild form of ADD. Most pediatricians only see the patient when they are in the office. Pediatricians rely heavily on reports from caregivers and school staff to assist them in making a diagnosis regarding ADD. Getting a second opinion or filling out a simple questionnaire known as the Conner's Screening Device will assist you in ruling out the possibility of ADD. Girls tend to have different symptoms than boys with this disorder so it might manifest itself differently for your daughter. For example, many girls who have ADD are more inattentive than hyperactive.
Educators have several simple techniques to assist students with poor attention problems. Try to use headphones to filter out noises around her. Also, seating arrangements in classrooms can reduce distractions. Simple behavior management tools can assist your daughter to get the most out of school. Many schools and teachers use behavior plans to structure and mold a child's behavior. For example, you state that when she gets one-on-one attention, she rises to her capabilities. The teacher could reinforce this behavior by rewarding her when she demonstrates independent quality work, and giving her extra attention after she does this.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.