Mum of the moment
Today it’s Darija who lives in Luxembourg with her 9 year old son, Nikola.
Nikola has a marked recognisable problem with his vision: Retinal dystrophy and Cone rod dystrophy; and some communication difficulties, but he can learn quickly.
I recently received a phone call from Darija.
Darija: Getting Nikola to do his homework is a major stress at the moment. Any ideas?
See my thoughts related to this now.
In an ideal world, Nikola wouldn’t have homework.
He is given homework with the intention of helping him to learn more and making life easier for him in the future. It isn’t - it is making life much harder for him. But we can’t usually change homework expectations overnight!
Homework should be enjoyable, but kids don’t want to do more of what they already know, and if they don’t understand it, they can’t do it! Even if we think homework isn’t exactly what Nikola should be doing we can use this to explore his brain and wellbeing. That will help him in many situations today and in his future.
Darija wants Nikola to be accepted in school, so she wants to help him manage everything that the other children do.
This is creating a big dilemma!
Have a look at ‘Life is sometimes like a sandcastle’, Darija.
Let’s look at Nikola’s homework stress with the 6 steps: understanding, nurturing, loving, communicating, resolving, playing. I explain these steps in a lot more detail in my book (Coming Soon).
As Nikola can learn easily, the task set is not the challenge. Resistance is not an emotional character trait, it’s neurological.
So we can look to his brain first, and then deal with his feelings.
Harry, a boy whom I spent many years with at NatureKids and is now in his twenties, explained to me that very often where a kid is struggling, there is a hidden gift.
So with Nikola, as he has different vision, we know his eyes see our world very differently. I would expect him to see hazy pictures in his brain, but from his huge imagination, it appears that he is hugely visually creative.
He may well have something like Eidetic vision – lots of kids do - even if their eye sight tests are normal. Eidetic vision is not imagining something in the mind, but all around you, superimposed over what can be actually seen. It’s like living in an imaginary world, 3D, alive and very interesting.
For some kids is almost visually impossible to come ‘out of this world’, to see a page in front of them. We know that with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, people get flashbacks that interfere with them being able to concentrate in the moment.
It could be that Nikola is getting constant flashbacks of what he visually knows and understands for much of his day, and he can’t ‘turn them off’ to ‘see and settle down to homework’.
So his reluctance to start his homework may be neurological and outside his control.
We can deeper our understanding of how he ‘sees’, then we can put in the right nurture.
Many, many parents ask me why kids can’t just ‘get the homework task over and done with quickly’. They would if they could!
Nikola can’t understand why Darija and his teachers don’t realise tasks are beyond him at certain times. He doesn’t explain how he sees the world, as he assumes we all see something similar to him.
Being asked to do tasks, especially at home, will make him frustrated and angry.
We need to establish strategies to help Nikola close down, for a short while, his ‘interesting world’ and to be able to focus on a short task. If we explore the gifts that Nikola has from his different vision (his imagination is incredible) then we can increase these to make up for the times he has to ‘close it down’.
At the moment, it feels to Nikola that he isn’t loved when given homework, because it is so stressful for him. Most kids feel like this when asked to do things that they just cannot manage.
Reassurance that he is loved makes no sense to him after homework, especially when he knows he isn’t being loveable!
He will have many feelings locked inside him from experiencing the world like this, and the tiniest thing can trigger a meltdown.
Very often with Eidetic type vision, there is an enhanced ability to feel other people’s feelings as if they are one’s own. So Nikola picks up on others’ frustrations when he can’t start a task, and gets a double whammy of his own frustration, and the other person’s!
He will do all he can to avoid this, and homework! We can encourage him to express himself with the feelings sheet, and maybe give a number to the degree of the feeling.
Then have a list of the things that help him to overcome this feeling, and move from the immense heartache it causes him back to his norm of happiness.
The first step may be practical – to ask the teacher for less homework. If we find out what he is actually seeing, and adapt to this, then maybe he can manage just a tiny bit without stress.
I always ask Mums or Dads to ‘put on their own oxygen mask first’. First, take time out for your own recharge and relaxation times.
Ask his class helper for some ideas to bring what he has to do within his main interests and passions. Nikola likes to master and fully learn about one thing at a time. That’s not a bad idea. Homework can be playing!
Stay up to date with Nikola’s story through the forthcoming discussions:
- Socialising, especially at school is a huge challenge.
- He has tantrums when he can’t have his own way.
- One minute he is so loving, the next he is angry and derogatory.