ADD, internet safety, introverted kids

When my husband and I went to our son’s spring conference, his teacher said that she thought my son had ADD. I just do not see the busyness in him that I associate with that. Should I have my son tested?

We tend to use the acronym ADD to refer to all attention problems. However, while Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) both result in a child’s struggle to attend to a task, they each manifest themselves differently. A student with ADD often operates under the radar because he tends to be quiet and get lost in thought; he may appear to just “zone out.” ADHD is more obvious, as the child struggles to sit still or even to stay seated at all. If he stays seated, he may be fidgety and easily distracted by anything and everything.

To have a solid understanding of what is happening with your son, ask his teacher to elaborate specifically on what she is seeing in class. Is there a predictable time of day when she observes the behaviors she describes? Can he focus better in the morning or in the afternoon, or does he struggle all day? Ask the teacher to have a counselor or special education professional observe your son for a block of time and record everything he does so that you can see beyond the generalization offered by the teacher.

Ask what strategies have been used to help encourage his attention. Simple things like changing where your son’s desk is relative to the teacher’s point of instruction or implementing a behavior plan with specific steps to achieve appropriate goals should be attempted before concluding that a disorder might be present.

If the problem persists after changes like these have been made, talk to your pediatrician. After a checklist evaluation is completed by you and his teacher, the pediatrician can determine an appropriate course of action and whether or not a disorder is indicated.

I see lots of references to teaching kids about internet safety, but I am reluctant to frighten my kids unnecessarily. How do I help them be safe without making them scared?

Teaching internet safety is just as important as teaching children to cross the street safely. Walking into traffic without looking will have horrible consequences; navigating the internet naively can as well.

For the games and activities that you have set up for your young children, an explanation of safety precautions isn’t necessary. However, once kids begin to search the internet independently, they must be aware of the potential danger they are exposed to.

Children must understand that they should never put personal information such as an address, phone number or email contact on a website. Explaining why this is dangerous is just as important as explaining why a child should not approach the car of a stranger offering candy.

Discuss the issue of cyberbullying at length. Talk about how typed words can be understood differently than what was intended, and explain the lasting nature of published thoughts. Even the quietest child can find power behind a keyboard and screen.

Exposure to inappropriate material is a very real danger. Risking your child’s innocence is serious. Accidental exposure can lead the most responsible 10 or 12 year old to pornographic material. The importance of this threat cannot be overemphasized. Use filters and blocks and keep all computers and phones in high traffic areas where you can monitor activity.

My second grade daughter is so introverted. She is just unable to make friends. What can I do to help her?

If a child’s introversion makes her uncomfortable or unhappy, it’s time to step in. Sometimes a quiet child can be overwhelmed by outgoing children or a large number of kids and may not be aware of someone else with a similar disposition or interests as her own. Begin by asking the teacher to recommend a few girls from the class who she thinks would be compatible with your daughter. Talk with your daughter about inviting someone over.

When the classmate comes, start the playdate with an activity in which you are involved – play a board game, do a craft or bake cookies for example. You will be able to help the girls start conversations and get to know one another. This will nudge them along to playing independently without you.

If your daughter is more content on her own than with others, consider reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This book will give you a new understanding and appreciation for this special personality.

Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at [email protected]

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