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It Worked: 9-Year-Old Plays a Role in His Own Success

One mother explains how her son with AD/HD had trouble working in small groups at school -- and how she found a strategy to help him succeed.

GreatSchools Blog

By GreatSchools Staff

Name: Anonymous
State: California
Child's Age: 9
Child's School Level: Elementary
Area(s) child struggles: child struggles: Attention, Behavior, Emotions, Psychological Issue

Describe a challenging incident or situation involving your child's learning or behavior.

My son, who has AD/HD, was having trouble working in small groups at school. He insisted the other kids weren't listening to him, or that he was doing "all the work," or that he didn't understand the teachers' instructions to the group and the other kids wouldn't explain them to him.

Describe how you responded to the situation, including the actions you took or strategies you used to support or defend your child in the situation.

I decided to try some role playing at home. We asked his grandma to play the "teacher" and I acted the part of a classmate in his small group. We reenacted a situation he had described to us, pausing to offer him helpful hints, acknowledge his frustration, or even "rewinding" the scene to try it again.

How did your child handle the situation?

He was angry with his classmates for not including him in a way he felt was fair. Initially, he thought role playing at home was useless. But as we went through the exercise together, he realized we had heard his frustration and he was willing to try out different ways of listening, responding, and asking questions. After a few practice sessions, he started trying the techniques in his small group at school.

Describe up to 3 things you learned from the situation?

  • To listen to my child's frustrations (reasonable or not).
  • To look at the situation from his point of view.
  • To be patient and flexible in role playing.

Describe up to 3 things your child learned from the situation?

  • He learned he could tell me honestly about his frustration.
  • It helped him to try out different responses in a safe setting (role playing at home)
  • He had nothing to lose by trying the techniques (gradually) at school.

What do you wish you had done differently, if anything?

I might have asked my son's cousin to join us in role playing so there was another kid involved.

What advice would you give other parents in this type of situation?

Let your child express his frustration with the situation until he is able to get it out of his system. Then he'll be more willing to try role playing at home.

Try your best to be patient - and have a sense of humor - especially if your child tells you that role playing is "stupid."

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

01/13/2012:
"Why aren't the teacher and staff experienced yet about our kids with ADD or ADHD? Why don't they care about their students and try to be a little more patient? Our children are smart but need a little more time to do tasks. As a parent I get frustrated with the schools and staff. "
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