Learning And The Adopted Child
0 comment Tuesday, May 13, 2014 |
I've been helping out at the kids's school for a few months now. I thought it would be a useful thing to do now that I've given up work. Useful for me to get to know the school better, useful for the school to know me, useful for me to get to know how my kids do compared to other kids in their year.
Seems to me that most kids in any class learn well if taught well. A couple of kids in the class will be super smart and always finish their work to a high standard before the others, and at least one of them will be bored a lot and be disruptive and defiant. A small group of kids will need intensive help with one-to-one support and a lot of supervision to get stuff done. And one or two kids will not think it is their business to even try to do the work That's been set them.
Unfortunately, my kids fall into the latter category.
They will put the briefest and poorest of efforts into any task they are set. They will pretend that they cannot do things they are perfectly capable of doing. They will react to the gentlest of encouragement to complete any task well, with tears and tantrums. They will expect any handy adult to do the bulk of the work for them.
There is something about children with low self-esteem - which most adopted children have -that means they are terrified of trying. Their ego is a raw bleeding thing and the thought of experiencing failure means such pain to them that they just cannot risk it. So if you don't try, the thinking goes, you don't run the risk of failing.
I do, however, have a strong suspicion that this is also learned behaviour. They have learnt that if you put in a half-hearted effort, or collapse into tears, then the adult will either complete the task for you, or the adult will stop expecting you to do it.
So, it's a difficult one for an adopter. On the one hand your child is actioning a desperate coping mechanism to stop them from experiencing more emotional pain. On the other hand, they are trying to get out of something because they can't be arsed.
Each of my two children has their own very special way to 'not try'. Daughter will usually burst into hysterical tears. You're trying to get her to understand that 2.0 is the same as 2, and you're trying to get her to apply this to a simply sum:
2.0 + 0.1 =
You won't give her the answer to the sum, but you show her how to arrange them in columns to add the two figures up:
2.0 +0.1---- .---- .
And explain to her again how to add up each of the two columns. So, how much is 0 + 1. How much is 2 + 0?
But she can't doooooooooooo itttttttttttttttttttt !!! And no one is helping heeeeeeeeeeeeer !!! WAAAAAAAAIL !!!
Did I mention my daughter is nearly ten years of age?
Son, who is eight years of age, has a different tack. You might be trying to get him to use a ruler, instead of his preferred method of drawing a straight line by quickly flicking the pencil across the paper. But, oh dear, his hands won't work. They've gone all floppy and they can't hold the ruler. Or the pencil. His hands have gone so wonky that the pencil is going everywhere but along the side of the ruler.
Let me tell you now, my children can add 2 + 0. My children can use a ruler. I've seen 'em! But their object is to be so frustrating that the expectation of them to try will stop. In fact, they will expand ten times the energy on trying to get out of something, than it would have taken just to do the task. They will spend three times longer not doing something, than it would have taken to just do it.
Nothing much motivates them when they are in 'not trying' mode. Not treats, not threats, not fun, not calmness, not patience, not encouragement and not being told off. The only thing Husband and I have found gets us all through is to say something like, 'OK, you're not in a place to do this right now, take a minute and I'll come back when you're ready to try.' The consistent withdrawal of attention when they are deliberately obstructing their own learning seems to drain their whining and silliness.
It is a frustration. My kids don't have a diagnosable learning disability, and they seem pretty bright young things to me. Husband and I spend somewhere from half an hour to an hour on school type stuff every evening, and we spend a lot of time just playing with them, stimulating them, teaching them.
They just were not stimulated enough when they were babies and infants, and their natural instincts to learn were not encouraged. Their schooling has been disrupted, with son experiencing four schools before he was eight. No one has ever expected much of them and so they find it had to start trying their best now.
And I have seen from my time spent in the school with them, that my kids are sadly just about bottom of the class in everything.
The adopted child. Sometimes their own worst enemy.