There’s a certain kind of a child I see quite often I have come to call the, “One and Done Child.”
What are some of the hallmark features of these children?
These children lack what the shrink types refer to as “self-monitoring.” That is, they aren’t oriented to checking themselves too readily. Typically, when given a task (no matter what the task is), they complete it and pronounce, “done,” fairly hastily with little awareness as to whether their efforts are accurate or not.
Let’s take Katie, a nine year old girl I saw recently. One of my favorite tests is one that has the child copy an increasingly complex series of shapes and designs. The child isn’t given any direction beyond asking her to copy the shapes and designs. The pencil they are given to copy the shapes has an eraser.
Well, Katie completed the copying in a fairly hurried, “done” style, as each design was copied in about two seconds flat whether it was simple or complex. She treated each design as if they all were of equal weight of difficulty.
Imagine given a simple square to copy. Pretty easy. Done in two seconds. Well what if the design was a complex three-dimensional figure. Compared to the two seconds it takes to copy the square, it would stand to reason that a complex 3-D design would take much more time to complete, more thought and consideration.
Not for Katie. Each design was the same – two to three seconds and “done.” There was no erasing, no attempt to improve a design. Needless to say the more complex designs certainly were not copied very accurately, but Katie showed no awareness of the lack of accuracy, no capacity to monitor herself.
When explaining this style to Katie’s mom, she asked me whether I thought it was because she is “impulsive” (With the subtext of does she have ADHD and should she be put on medication?”).
I said, “I think it’s more a style, a way that she approaches tasks, a habit she’s gotten herself into. These tasks require a certain amount of thought and self-reflection and she’s just not oriented that way. It’s like these “One & Done” kids lack an internal voice, something that goes like this, ‘Hmmm., let me look this over to see how accurate I am. Maybe I’m not done yet.’ Katie doesn’t have that voice running through her head.”
I know. What’s the solution?
I wish there was an easy one. Most of the time the parents (well, the moms) are just badgering these kids to, “check your work…check your work…check your work,” while the kid’s eyeballs are snapping in his/her head. The last thing a Katie style kid wants to do is check her work.
I do think in the hand of a good tutor/teacher who understands this phenomenon, the child can be sensitized to become more reflective and more considered in approach over time. Effectively, such a teacher would be saying something like, “Hold on, maybe we need to look that over more carefully. What do we need to do before we say we’re done?”
A child is much more likely to be receptive to such a teacher than listen to a parent.
“One and Done Kids” are tough to manage. So, even though it will you cost you some money find yourself a good tutor to start chiseling away at this habit of being “one and done.”
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