How you see yourself makes a huge difference in how you experience the world.
The hubby and I had our first parent-teacher interview last Friday with T’s Grade 2 teacher.
The conversation focused on T’s challenges: focusing and completing his work; avoidance behaviour like taking long bathroom breaks, and social interaction.
I felt deflated, because I went into it feeling good as we received a mostly positive progress report card a few days before.
Academically, T is progressing well, and especially well with math and science. But T’s teacher noted he needs improvement with organization, collaboration and self regulation.
None of this is surprising as his FASD diagnosis identified these three impairments.
But after some sleep and distance, I feel ok.
We’ve been through this conversation before: different year, older child, same issues. But we find a way to move beyond each speedbump.
The conversation reminded me about one of my goals – to foster self belief in T.
As an individual with FASD, this world will wear T down – more so as he gets older – whether it’s due to a lack of understanding, patience, stigma.
Even T recently shared with the hubby and I that he never has a good day at school and he’s always being bad at school.
That comment made me sad, because this is no doubt how he sees his experience at school.
I reminded T we all have bad days but T is not a bad kid. He is smart, caring, funny and a good kid.
This Fatherly articles notes that children develop self esteem as early as 5 when the brain starts to develop thought patterns known as schemas.
It further notes that experiences and feedback shape schemas and that “depending on the experiences and the feedback being given, negative schemas form and become harder to correct over time. The right messages make as big of a difference as the wrong ones.”
We do our best every day to remind T of his strengths and to build on them and his interests.
I believe in giving positive reinforcement and feedback – so long as it’s sincere and earned.
I also want T to develop a mindset of wanting to do well regardless of positive feedback or setbacks.
It’s not easy and the hubby and I struggle with his on a daily basis. We see him at his best and worst.
But we remind ourselves of how much he’s grown.
During bedtime last Sunday, T randomly said 20 + 30 = 50.
So I took it as an invitation to play a math game and gave him other questions to try, even 3 numbers, such as 10 + 20 + 40.
T enjoyed the drills and asked for it during the drive to school and every bedtime since.
What these precious moments in the dark at bedtime, with his head rested on my chest, remind me is this kid is awesome.
He just needs to remember it and we need to find and foster ways for him to believe it.