A Kids’ Skills coach had a talk with Walter and his parents. Father explained that Walter had been diagnosed with ADHD. He was distractible and behaved disruptively in class. His marks were bad and because of his behaviour he had been sent many times to headmaster’s office. Mother had tried to support him by helping him with his homework in the evenings, sometimes for hours. Walter made the point that his “distractibility” was not only a bad thing. He admitted that it caused him trouble during lessons but make the point that being distractible also had benefits. It made him smart and helped him get brilliant ideas, which made him popular among friends.
The discussion turned into thinking about what skills Walter should learn in order for his “distractibility” not to give him problems at school. Three skills were identified. These were 1) the skill to stop oneself 2) the skill to return to class and 3) the skill to speak, during the lessons, only with the teacher. Of these skills Walter chose to learn the third one.
Walter made the point that his “distractibility” was not only a bad thing. He admitted that it caused him trouble during lessons but make the point that being distractible also had benefits. It made him smart and helped him get brilliant ideas, which made him popular among friends.
“How confident are you, on a scale from one to ten that you will learn the skill of talking only to teachers during lectures”, asked the coach Walter. He said that he was on six or seven. He was optimistic that he would be able to learn the skill. Also his parents were optimistic. They said that they were convinced that he would learn the skill if he wanted to.
Naming and power figure
Walter did not want to give his skill any name, nor did he want to have an imaginary helper or superhero. He thought they were childish ideas.
The whole family participated in identifying the benefits of the skill. It was agreed that the skill would 1) improve Walter’s relationship with other people, particularly his relationship with teachers, 2) help him get better marks, 3) help him be successful in the future, for example, in work or university, and 4) make him appreciate himself more.
Walter chose his supporters. They were his parents, one of his teachers, that he liked, the coach and two friends of his. The coach helped the family to write a letter to Walter’s teacher with information about the skill Walter was learning and a request to the teacher to support him by paying special attention to his progress. Walter spoke with his two friends and agreed with them that they could help him by refusing to answer his questions during lessons.
At home, with his parents, Walter made a poster for his skill. On it he wrote with big letters the skill he was learning. There was lots of empty space on the poster where Walter’s parents wrote encouraging statements to him. Some additional family members as well as one more teacher were informed about Walter’s skill.
The coach asked Walter to demonstrate his skill with the help of a role play. Walter was to listen to the coach who was playing the role of the teacher while his mother and father tried to distract him in all kind of ways. Walter surprised everyone by showing outstanding ability to ignore his parents’ distractions. His grandmother, a retired teacher, offered to play similar role-plays with him at her place when he was visiting her in order to help him hone his skill.
An agreement was made with Walter about how others may remind him of his skill if he sometimes forgets the skill at school. Walter suggested that in that case the teacher could come near to him and whisper to him the words “come back”. This suggestion was written down on a sheet of paper which was sent to the teacher.
The teacher reported that Walter was making progress. Also his marks started to improve. The supporting teacher told the parents that Walter had become more attentive and said that she believes he will do well in the future.
When Walter had learned his skills, he wanted to celebrate by going to eat pizza with his parents and his friend and his friend’s parents. The coach, who was also invited, handed Walter a diploma for learning a new skill. Walter thanked his friend, his parents and the coach for support. It was agreed to that the next day he would also thank the teacher who had supported him.
The coach asked Walter if he would want to teach his skill to someone else but Walter showed no interest in this idea.