Not sure why (I have my theories), but there has been a considerable increase of children landing on my doorstep with behaviors that have become something of a water torture of “drip, drip, dripping” to others around them.
The social fallout is the result of this this steady dripping.
Let’s look at Carter, age 7, who does very well in school and is viewed to be quite smart.
There is little that Carter does overtly that anyone can identify as particularly problematic, but the unrelenting “drip, drip, drip” of behaviors results in others reacting to his every small behavior.
Carter is stunned when other children yell at him, “Stop it, Carter! You are so annoying.”
From Carter’s perspective everyone is picking on him and he has no idea why other children are “mean to him.”
What Carter is unable to see is that behaviors like his ongoing humming and mouth clicking noises start to add up.
The “drip, drip, drip” goes on throughout the day and no one wants to sit with him on the bus or in the lunchroom. When his mother tries to make play dates, the children don’t want to come over to his house.
There are other situations that Carter misreads, which also has the effect described. Carter insists on being first in line and continually calls out answers when the teacher asks a question without raising his hand.
When discussing Carter’s issues with his mother, she becomes somewhat defensive with one of the classic lines, “Aren’t all 7-year-old boys like this?”
There are many different opinions on children like Carter and what is needed.
Some will see if through the lens of ADHD. Others will view Carter as being self-centered. While others will dismiss the behaviors as “boys being boys.”
Plenty will be of the opinion that Carter should be on some type of medication.
Others will suggest he needs to be reading social cues better and should be in some type of social skills group or receive behavioral therapy.
Parents will seek my counsel as to how to “fix the problem.”
I always feel like I am letting them down when I say something like, “There is nothing broken and therefore it can’t be fixed.”
However, with various ends working in on the middle (i.e., parents, teachers, school counselors, therapists), behaviors can be modified and improved over time.
Without placing a child like Carter on the defensive, helping him to incrementally become more self-aware is a good first step to slow down the dripping.
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