Galactic Hot Dogs
 
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Taking Direction

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My five-year-old son has a hard time understanding directions and rules. He can't stay still and he's always bored.

I had him tested for ADD but they said he's "just a boy" and that his "file cabinet in his mind is all mixed up."

I notice that when he is asked to draw something he has no problem. I personally think he's a good artist for a five-year-old. His dad and I have tried a bunch of things to help him understand. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Most five-year-olds are active, but they are usually adult-pleasers and try very hard to follow rules. I'm not sure what the file cabinet analogy means and you may want to ask whoever mentioned that to explain it to you again.

Since your son has strengths in the visual areas, try to focus on that. Talk with his teacher and school counselor and ask them to put directions and rules in a visual form. The rule about staying in one's seat could have a picture of a child sitting in a chair beside it; the rule about listening could have a picture of a large ear, and so forth. Your son could help draw the pictures to go with the rules and directions.

The teacher could use a visual system of enforcing the rules as well; she could use a chart with a card pocket for each child. Each child starts the day with no card in his or her pocket; the first time a rule is broken the student gets a green card (warning), the second time a yellow one (time out), and the third time a red one (phone call to parent). For children who are visual, the chart can help them know how their behavior has been throughout the day. Some children who are very active may need to get a fresh start with an empty pocket after lunch. You can follow up at home with an extra bedtime story or a walk around the block just with you for a good day.

It sounds like you and your husband have tried lots of things with your son. You may want to look in your public library for a book on a positive discipline technique on which you can both agree. Then decide on rules, rewards, and consequences that you can enforce consistently over a long period of time. You may find that this consistency will help your son know what to expect and will make a difference for him.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

highlights

Top 10 Sweet 16 Birthday Gifts
Your daughter's sweet 16 is a big milestone in her life. Celebrate this special occasion with one of these top gifts for girls turning 16.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, brought to you by Galactic Hot Dogs.

Printable Lists of the Top 100 Baby Names
Need help with baby name ideas? Use our printable list of the top 100 girl names and top 100 boy names of 2015 to help you brainstorm and narrow down your favorites.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks