One of the first tools that I used from the parenting book on reading is called positive picturing or mental rehearsal. Basically it’s where you use your imagination to picture a positive process and outcome of an upcoming activity. The author says to tell your child, “Make a picture in your mind…” And then run the child through a guided visualization of the activity where the results are what they want. I’ve never done this, but this author assures me that this will influence how the child sees himself and how he will perform. Use of this tool fell into my lap the other night at bedtime. WC started in on how he can never get his work done on time. He is always the last person in class to finish and he feels like a baby because younger kids help him. So I asked him to close his eyes and make a picture in his mind. It took a while just to get him to understand what I was asking him to do. I started when he gets out of bed and ran him all the way through getting to class and told him that he was listening to every word the teacher said and he understood her directions. He had his paper in front of him and he worked his way through it without any trouble. There were lots of interruptions from him during this. And I was patient and calm the entire time. He asked what if he kept thinking about other things. I told him to say to himself that he was thinking about something else then place it out of his mind and return to his work. I kissed him goodnight and left the room.
It was fifteen to twenty minutes later, I’m in the living room when WC emerges, upset. “Mommy, I keep thinking about other things and I haven’t even gotten out of the car yet!”
It was all I could do not to laugh. Jay, who wasn’t aware of what had transpired at bedtime, was confused.
Dear All Knowing Child Psychologist- What now?
I take WC back to bed. He asks if he can skip getting ready in the morning. And I agree that we don’t have issues with getting out of the house in the morning. Since, we have that down pat, I tell him he can move to class. But, I also say that I think it’s okay if he just gives his brain a rest and go on to sleep. On the positive side, he was attempting to do the exercise on his own. I was afraid he’d balk at it. On the downside, at the moment, he can’t even visualize himself finishing his class work.
Note to self: start smaller next time.
In a move that I should have done months ago, I emailed his teacher. I explained to her what he’d been saying to me. I wanted to find out how accurate his perception of the situation was. She didn’t send home unfinished class work, so is he really lagging behind in it. And, in her reply he does have focus issues. It hadn’t affected his grades but she worried that as things get harder that will change. And she doesn’t send his work home because she doesn’t want to stress him out anymore. She would prefer that we just do his regular homework. So as of now, I have a meeting with her and the school guidance counselor next Wednesday to discuss his issues and what we can do to help.
I’m not abandoning the visualization technique. I’d like to try it again with him soon. And just limit what I ask him to think about.