Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Toxic Free Zone: Rewriting the Script, Part Six

Try taking a step back if  your child is constantly failing to meet expectations.

There is such a wide, wide range of human behavior and abilities.  If your child does not behave exactly like his classmates, it's not necessarily a pathology.  These days we expect all children to have all the same abilities, be successful in only one basic type of environment, and develop along the same time continuum.  How realistic is that?  
In previous generations, only a small percentage of children went to school for hours and hours every day, and the rest learned a trade, or farmed or worked alongside their parents.  Frankly, not every person is suited for sitting for hours and hours in school every day all day, and it pains and saddens me that we think that there is something wrong with people who are obviously not cut out for it.

 Not all three and four year olds are emotionally or physically ready to sit still for long periods every day, to tolerate a great deal of noise and chaos, and to be forced into doing fine motor activities before they have developed the physical and cognitive skills necessary to support complex eye hand tasks.  And wouldn't it be wonderful if schools would be more able to accommodate the needs of individual students, instead of trying to cramp everyone into one homogenous mold.

Learn to pick your battles. Children are messy, unpredictable, stubborn, disorganized, and quixotic, and are not necessarily interested in doing exactly what the adults want and expect of them a hundred percent of the time.

 Be realistic about what you can and can't expect from your child.  In Manhattan, I see so many children whose behavioral problems, which stem from their sensory issues, are severely exacerbated by parents who have no concept about what constitutes normal behavior for their child's age and gender. 

 Children need lots of unstructured play time, preferably out of doors, and in Manhattan they rarely get it.  Their behavior and health suffers as a result.  Children also don't do well when their after school hours and weekends are crammed with activities {with more adults making more demands on them} in addition to too much homework.

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