I don’t know about you, but I love people watching. Of course I am always on the look out for children with ADHD! Restaurants, bus and train journeys are the best. Great opportunity to just subtlety watch and observe. My family think it’s hysterical as predictably as I will go up to the mum and tell her what a good job she’s doing.
Last week I witnessed a superb scenario. We were in a restaurant and in came in a little tornado of a lad who was probably about 5 years old. Immediately hubby and I looked at each other and lip-synced “A-D-H-D”. He was classic. He was wired and buzzing. Legs all over the place and arms flailing.
The restaurant was a perfect environment for him as it was a wide space and the owners actively encouraged children. (Which is I guess why the parents chose it). There were sit-n-ride toys, a slide, balls and small equipment to play with.
This little lad was having a wail of a time. Let’s call him George. At one point we heard the tinkling of a piano from another room. Yup, out leaped George.
All this time that George was zooming, sliding, dancing, throwing and having fun, his parents were happily letting him get on with it. The other diners were enjoying the show, seeing the children happy. No adults were fussing, tutting, expressing concern or worry.
Now George had a little cousin with him. I say cousin, but actually we had no idea. I just make up the relationships! Let’s call the cousin Sam. Now Sam was younger and was following George around like a little puppy. George was totally unaware that Sam was mimicking every move. No adult telling him to include Sam or take turns.
The parents ordered food and every now and then George would make a pit stop to have a mouthful and off he’d go again. No suggestion he should sit at the table.
At one point (round about dessert) Sam started throwing a ball in my direction. Never one to resist interaction with a cute little bubba I started throwing the ball back. Guess who noticed and wanted a piece of the action? George! He came bounding over and snatched the ball from Sam. Again no interference from the adults. No reminstrations or telling George off and that he should be the kind big cousin.
Instead, I gave George his own ball to throw to me. So I was doing a double; throwing and catching two balls from two little people. We were all laughing hysterically. It was like a Laurel and Hardy film.
Now why am I telling you this story? Well, this scenario took place in Cyprus. A culture where large groups of people get together around a dinner table to share, talk, gesticulate, laugh and enjoy one another’s company. Obviously I am generalising. But the scenario I described was typical of what we witnessed during our recent holiday to this beautiful country.
This got me thinking.
How much do expectations affect our children’s behaviour?
I would say massively.
If George’s parents had expected him to sit still, stay at the table, share with Sam, eat all his food then the outcome would have been very different. Instead of a happy little boy leaving the restaurant, there would have been a grumpy child, frustrated parents, disgruntled customers and miserable staff.
So I urge you. Think about your expectations for your child. Are they able to do the things you’d like them to do?
Going to Granny’s, shopping, long journey, sharing with siblings, family meals, birthday parties.
Have reasonable expectations.
You know your child’s limits, needs and capabilities. Go places where the environment suits your child. Quit whilst you’re ahead. Praise don’t criticise.
Be like George and leave with a big fat smile on your face.
For the attention of:
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‘ADHD in Education: Struggles, Strengths and Strategies’.
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