By Dr. Joseph Gianesin, Behavioral Consultant
My son is pretty smart and was just accepted into his school's "gifted and talented" program. The problem is he does everything slowly including copying a simple assignment, taking a bath and eating.
He also gets extremely distracted. For example, when he is putting on his socks he might get distracted by a book and stop to read it. He partially listens to what his teacher says in school and then cannot complete his work correctly.
His consequence is to redo his work again and again. I consulted with his pediatrician to find out if he has ADD (attention-deficit disorder), but his evaluation is that "this is his personality - self-centered, rigid and strong-minded."
He can do an excellent job in his own way, but never follows guidelines or requirements. What can I do without struggling with him every day?
The first thing to do is decide the issues that are important enough for you to worry about. If you can prioritize those and let the other ones run their course, you will reduce the amount of struggle and conflict.
I have encountered several children like this and you have to pick your battles carefully. In some instances, operating at a slow speed is a form of resistance and a passive-aggressive response ("You can't make me go any faster").
I respond to this by emphasizing the positive and providing firm, consistent limits and boundaries on the areas I have identified as important.
There are some simple approaches that work for stubborn children. For example, the use of a kitchen timer for the completion of a household task or a school assignment helps the child modulate his time on task. In school the teacher could initially shorten the assignments and set the timer for a certain time limit. If your son responds successfully, then provide a reward for him. The work can be gradually increased as he demonstrates success. In addition, limit the number of directions.
One last bit of caution. Children who have these characteristics often look for chances to engage in an argument. Avoiding an argument or conflict is important, and using redirection techniques can reduce tension. The key for all children is consistency and predictability. Look for the strengths in your child and he will shine for you.
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.
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