This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Writing assignments

I wanted to address my friend Denise's comments here. I don't think she'll mind.

"I am SO-O-O-O glad I'm not your kid! All that reading and writing as punishment. How do ADHD kids manage that? I'd think having them run about 15 laps around the block would do it..."

Kitty is one of my ADHD kids. She takes meds for it, and usually gets her assignments done in the morning while she's "fresh." She's still being homeschooled so this is possible. Her book was written on about a 2nd or 3rd grade level. I had Bob read her article out loud to Kitty and Ponito(gave Bob a chance to make any corrections too). Kitty learns better when she hears things, so this helps. Kitty turned in her assignment tonight. It is so full of spelling and grammatical errors that I had to have her read it aloud, but she was proud of it. I don't know how much she "got it," but she is at least getting reinforcement on the right way to do things.

I used to think that reading and writing assignments would cause my kids to hate reading and writing, but I've found it hasn't worked that way. I try very hard to keep assignments on an appropriate level that keeps them learning without being frustrated. All the kids benefit from the practice writing. They are learning other skills too (summarizing, research, expressing their feelings, restitution, that their actions have consequences...)

Ponito's assignment is a little longer, but this is not his first offense and he is VERY bright. I try to keep the assignments appropriate to the abilities of the child. They usually don't take more than an hour or two at most for the child to complete - unless the child has been repeatedly getting in the FAIR Club, then the child's assignments get tougher.

Ponito's assignment may end up being too long for him, but technically he's on restriction since he acted out while already in the FAIR Club. He reads on a much higher level so it's probably fine. I will make adjustments mid-assignment if I see a child floundering. If you've read my articles on the FAIR Club ( ), the writing assignment section mentions one of the times when the whole assignment was a total bomb and had to be rewritten.

FAIR Club assignments are designed to be as close to logical consequences as possible. I want it to help them learn, and develop skills they need in the future. They need to understand that their actions have consequences, and learn to make better choices. Not doing something so they won't be punished, keeps them from doing it now (hopefully), but not when there's no one watching. Some of my kids need LOTS of help learning to behave - even when they know they wouldn't get caught. I also try to mix up the punishments. I don't want the child to decide to "do the crime," because they've decided it's worth "doing the time."

Running 15 laps, to me, is a punishment not a consequence. I don't believe in punishing my kids, I don't think they learn anything from it - except that adults get to do mean things to kids because they are bigger. That's another reason we don't spank. I want my kids to understand their consequences are because of their actions, not because I'm a mean mommy.

There are logical reasons behind the extra chores as well. Kitty had to clean my office, because I had to take time away from my work to deal with her meltdowns. She can't help me with my work, but she can "make up" some of this "lost" time by doing my chores. It is also a form of restitution. By doing something for me and helping me she's making up to me for being so nasty. She's learning there are consequences to her actions AND if you hurt someone you should try to make it better.

Ponito cleaning up the poop in the backyard was a particularly yucky task, but it is actually something that he benefits from more than anyone else (and I knew Grandma and probably big brother would help him). Ponito has complained several times that it is impossible to play in the backyard without stepping in dog poo. Now the dogs will probably poo in the spot he designated (dogs are like that) and he can go back to playing in the backyard. Plus, maybe it will make him think again before he uses a potty mouth. It really bothers me that he's been cussing at the other children behind my back. I'd been thinking Kitty was exaggerating because Hubby, Grandma and I'd never heard him do it.

Anyway, that's why I assigned what I did. Kitty is done and out of the FAIR Club. Ponito has finished his chore, but has not finished his writing assignment (he didn't even find the book until 10 minutes before bed). He was having too much fun playing pool with Hubby and Bear anyway. That's the nice thing about the FAIR Club, they can do it at their own pace. They can stay in the FAIR Club forever if they want to (they never do!), or rush and get their assignments done.

So if you're saying "That's not FAIR!" - you're right!



Anonymous said...

The 15 laps thing was sarcasm... and seriously, I'd hate having to do a report every time I screwed up. I'd never do anything wrong ever again.

marythemom said...

Hi Denise,

Oh if only that were true!! If I thought my kids would never do anything wrong again I would know I was doing the right thing!! *grin*

My kids do not have to do a report every time they screw up, only when it is a major offense requiring placement in the FAIR Club. None of the kids had been in the FAIR Club in months. I reserve it for repeat offenses, major breaches of RRHAFTBA, or when I think a child would really benefit from it. It's kind of funny, when one child goes in the FAIR Club, usually several children end up there - probably it's related to me looking around and realizing I've been letting things slide.