These days we, as teachers and parents, have become increasingly aware of special needs, thanks to the movie “Tare Zameen Pay”. Working in primary education in Pakistan for almost a decade now, I have seen many systems of education based on different theories of development. For example, Montessori and High Scope are established approaches, which require proper training of teachers. But no matter what theory the school follows, the focus is on one or two aspects of child psychology. Consequently, all teaching techniques are centred upon the development of those aspects.
However, in my experience, I have seen that sometimes we are too quick to declare a child as dyslexic or having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These terms, now widely known, have created many stereotypes in our minds regarding children. These conditions are real, but we should be very sure when we declare that a specific child is suffering from them.
Over-anxious parents with high expectations tend to label their own child as a slow learner. If we try to elaborate the word ‘slow’ and ask them to explain it, they usually reply that, “he/she cannot write as well as his/her older sibling”, “he/she has no interest in reading” or “he/she cannot sit still”.
When saying such things, they drive their children into unhealthy and unnecessary competitions, without stopping to consider the basics. The particular child becomes a specimen under a microscope. He may not have reached developmentally appropriate milestones for these tasks. Instead of helping children reach their goals, kids are pressurized at a tender age. When their mental growth is hindered by the fussing of the parents, kids perform poorly. Rather than being free to grow, pressure makes them worried and depressed, which results in erratic behaviour.
Besides, the child might be facing a number of problems, which can hamper his or her studies. The child might not be getting enough sleep, may be bullied, may be ignored by his parents or teacher, or only looking for a little encouragement. Any one of these reasons can lead to misbehaviour.
ADHD is characterised by a combination of inattentiveness, hyper-activity and impulsivity, exceeding the limits of the normal developmental range for children of that age. While parents might think that studying will make their child successful, too much studying is also harmful. Bombarding the child with information and around-the-clock learning is not the answer. It only makes them run away from it.
Narrated Ibn Masood: “The Prophet used to take care of us in preaching by selecting a suitable time, so that we might not get bored. He abstained from pestering us with sermons and knowledge all the time.” (Bukhari)