It’s the beginning of September, and where I live the K-12 school year has just begun. I love seeing pictures of friend’s children filled with excitement about starting a new grade, or going to school for the first time.
During this time of year, I have some happy memories about my K-12 school years, but I also have some memories of elementary that cause me to fill with embarrassment, anxiety, and sadness. Almost all of those unpleasant memories are related to having had ADHD, which was not diagnosed when I was young. Throughout elementary, I was not seen as having ADHD; instead, I was a child who didn’t pay attention for long, who daydreamed, and when not daydreaming, was busy fidgeting and getting in trouble for things like pulling the pigtails of classmates, or poking them in the back, or being warned for the umpteenth time that I would be sent for time out in the hallway. In other words, I was a problem child.
My hope is that things have changed for the better for children who have ADHD. I’m not a parent or guardian, so I don’t know how well children with disruptive ADHD habits and behaviours are being treated by teachers compared to when I was a child. What I do know is that some of the methods of discipline that were acceptable when I was young are considered unprofessional by today’s standards.
When I remember some of the ways in which teachers responded to my behaviours I can now see that these teachers were not interested in correcting my behaviour, rather, they were interested in embarrassing and belittling me. I have no recollection of any of their methods actually helping to curb any of my ADHD behaviours.
I had a teacher who decided to ignore me and not speak to me for an entire day. I remember crying because my feelings were hurt. She gave me the silent treatment and instructed the other students to do the same, telling them that if they spoke to me they would be in trouble. I was confused because I had no idea what I had done to be on the receiving end of her silence. At the end of the day she informed me that she ignored me all day because I hadn’t listened to her first thing in the morning. She wanted me to know what it felt like to be ignored. As an adult I wouldn’t have cared if she ignored me; I like being left to myself to do my work without being bothered, but as a child, I had an emotionally difficult time with the lesson she was trying to teach me.
I also remember a teacher having a time out corner. She would make the student stand in a corner, with their face turned to the wall. If you dared to turn around, she would extend the time one had to spend in the corner. Eventually the principal put a stop to this discipline.
There were many other attempts at behaviour modification that were not helpful. As an adult I see these methods were not helpful and are no longer used in the school system because they don’t stop disruptive ADHD behaviours, instead they make children angry, and results in new negative behaviours develop. Intentionally shaming a child with ADHD doesn’t help them, it hinders them.
I don’t know what your memories of elementary are like. Maybe you’re like me, you have a mixture of happy memories mixed with sad moments related to having been a child with ADHD. If you still have a difficult time with certain ADHD childhood memories, below is a prayer for you. Sometimes it can be difficult to release the negative and hurtful memories associated with childhood ADHD, but with time and much prayer the emotional pain can decrease.
“Lord Jesus I pray that You would enable me to forget the things which are past and help me to press forward, knowing that my hope and my future is in You. Help me not to dwell on past hurts and painful memories and enable me to forget what is behind and to walk forward into each new day, holding Your hand.
Lord I release all of the painful memories I have to You and pray that You would help me to renew my mind day by day and to focus my thoughts on the Lord Jesus Christ. Help me also to forgive all those that have caused me pain so that by Your grace You would help me to fill my heart with new and joyful thoughts.
Lord I believe that You came to heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free. Wash away all these hurtful memories that are causing me so much heartache I pray – and replace them with the joy of my salvation, which I have received in Christ Jesus my Saviour – for which I offer You thanks and praise. Lord may the words of my mouth and all the thoughts in my mind be filtered through You – and may I build up new memories that are sweetened by the beauty of Your Person, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.” (Source: http://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Prayers-for-Letting-Go)