by Christina L. Moreland
Have you ever been so worried about your child you couldn’t sleep? And I’m not just talking about when they have great illness, or an injury, or anything you can particularly identify…
I’m talking about when everything seems perfect? He or she is going through a very normal day — school, maybe some homework, perhaps a sport he or she is into at the moment…
And they seem to be doing just fine, so why worry? And exactly, how can you ensure you help them succeed?
Well Mom, from experience, I can say that’s a whole lot easier said than done, even under the best, or most ideal, circumstances. This past week was a great example of that… However, I believe I can share 3 key things to help your child succeed:
First, a little contextual background:
My son had some big tests coming last week… and if you’ll recall from past articles you may have read, he also struggles with ADHD…
Additionally, there is currently a widespread shortage of medical supplies, including the saline used in ADHD medications, because of the hurricane in Puerto Rico just a few months ago…
I found out that we would have to switch his medication abruptly, just as he was heading into one of the biggest test weeks of his school year. Again, there is no way to know how an individual child will metabolize a new medication until you try it — there’s lots of trial and error involved, which of course only heightened my anxiety as I wanted him to succeed…
Keep in mind, part of what ADHD is has to do with his inability to focus and concentrate — clearly skills he needs to be motivated enough to put in the effort and make the grade.
The very last drop of his old medication was emptied the morning of his final, and most difficult, test…
Well, before I tell you the outcome, let me boil down our success tools into 3 things and tell you WHY they worked:
First, let’s talk a little bit about Proactivity, which was essential for us to get our son to succeed this past week…
Upon receiving notice about the medication change, I proactively sent an email to all of his teachers letting them know what was going on, my concerns, and that I needed them to be my eyes and ears in the classroom, particularly if they noticed ANY change in him whatsoever with the new meds. Additionally, I specifically requested in very clear, concise language, that they send us links or copies of papers sent home with review materials, as early as possible, to give him (and us) the proper lead time we believed he needed…
This communication was absolutely essential so we could do what we needed at home to support what they were doing in the classroom and to work around baseball practice and two special occasion birthdays…
I know it might seem like these are obvious things, but I honestly believe if it hadn’t been for my great communication with his teachers that he wouldn’t have had enough time to prepare and would have failed. He did not receive anything different from any other student — notices and study links were all sent out to the group at the same time — but our concerns about our son were on the teachers’ radar!! That made all the difference!
Listen, if you only come away from reading this post with one key skill, let it be this: your communication with your child’s teacher is one of the most important things you can have as a parent to help guide your child to success.
It sounds really simple, but many parents forget that teachers have SO MANY responsibilities, tough deadlines, long hours that often go into the night to prepare for the next day, and families of their own. And many parents neglect being the proactive advocate their child needs. Never, ever be afraid to ask for what you think your child needs!
To motivate my son to want to do the work required to pull off a good grade in his tests, we incentivized him with a reward — if he scored A’s in all 3 tests, we would give him a game he had been wanting for quite a long time…
I know this may sound like bribery. It’s not.
Bribery is giving a child something to stop NEGATIVE behavior. A reward is earned. And it’s something you give a child to reward GOOD behavior, or the very traits you want to see repeated.
Again, it’s extremely difficult keeping an ADHD kid motivated. But we knew he needed to work harder than we’ve ever seen him work before, if he was to achieve the goal of scoring 90 and above in ALL THREE TESTS.
He prepared and studied like I’ve never seen him do before, and did absolutely everything we asked him to do — extra practice sheets in science, reviewed missed questions in both math and science, and worked every single math equation my husband made up and put in front of him. In other words, he PREPARED, and was prepared.
The flip side to that was my husband (who is a financial planner and does math for a living) spent hours with him — all the time it required — without complaint, and patiently reworked problems and questions, until we were confident — and our son was confident — he could ace the exams.
This last one won’t seem like much until you understand where I’m coming from… my son’s learning disability often causes me a great deal of anxiety. But this time, I let go.
Going into the exams, I reminded him how much he had prepared and that we were very proud of him for his effort. That the actual grade he made didn’t matter to us! We reminded him that we love him and were so very proud of everything we saw him do that week, that we believed he would do well, but if not, don’t worry about it.
I’ll confess and admit I did say a prayer for him the day of his exams, but it wasn’t out of worry. I felt and exhibited PEACE regarding the outcome. And I passed that along to him, too, so he knew whatever outcome occurred, it was Ok.
I’m happy to say his hard work (and ours) paid off. He made a 100 on one math test, a 96 on his science test and only missed one question! And the final, and most difficult math test, scored a 90, which was pretty remarkable considering it covered the three most complex concepts of the entire school year (according to the teacher), and was only 10 questions. That meant he could only miss a single question to still get an A.
Listen, I know as a mother that your single biggest goal in life is to have happy, thriving, successful children — success being identified as helping them to achieve their goals and dreams in life.
It’s my hope in sharing some of my day-to-day parenting struggles and successes, that you too will find helpful tools to help you and your family thrive.
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With much love,
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