A recent car journey with my seven year old son had me revisiting and marveling at the way in which young children’s minds work.
To set the context, Riyad my son, has issues at school with social boundaries and has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. Riyad expresses his frustrations with outbursts of anger. He feels that everyone is blaming him and as such this results in a 0-60 outburst. It was because of one of these outbursts that I found myself discussing a myriad of subjects on the way to visit his grandad in hospital.
Having received an email from school that day I thought I would take the opportunity in the car to speak with Riyad and remind him to do his breathing exercises (a strategy suggested by CAMHS) so that he could better control himself in class. During the discussion he went slightly off topic and started telling me about the different types of ADHD. (Now whether his diagnosis, which he was present at, made him think that his behaviour was acceptable I do not know but I did reiterate that having ADHD does not mean that you have an excuse to misbehave.) In his words he described “silly ADHD” and “angry ADHD”. Riyad’s reasoning behind labeling them is as follows:
SILLY ADHD : Is when you do silly stuff like John* and want to make people laugh because you don’t want to do work or it’s too hard. AND when you want to annoy people.
ANGRY ADHD : is when you get angry at stuff and people blame you.
“I have angry ADHD…” stated Riyad
Clearly there is no angry or silly ADHD but in order for Riyad to rationalise he used the knowledge of John’s* behaviours in class and his own behaviours to come up with a label of best fit. Facinating stuff.
Riyad then randomly asked ” why do rich people not buy poor people houses?” to which I really had no clear answer. He then stated ” well when I am a famous footballer and have hundreds of money I am going to buy lots of houses and stuff for poor people…” I thought this was a lovely idea and steered the conversation back to the fact that if he wanted to be a footballer he would have to stick in at school and try his best to do as the teacher asked. I explained the importance of education ( as a good mum ) and he seemed to ponder over this for a while. This then led to him to ask “well why do ‘they‘ not give them stuff”. ‘They‘ I ascertained was the government. We then went on to discuss the role of the government and what Riyad thought they did.His explanation turned out to be pretty good.
“The government is supposed to look after the people and make sure everyone is ok”
I thought this was quite a good description for a seven year old ! He then asked who gets to be in government which then led to the whole discussion on politicians and voting, different parties and the promises they make in manifesto’s . We discussed a few promises that were made and a few that were being made so as to give a bit of meaning. Riyad appeared to be taking all this information in and was quite for a few minutes.
Then it came…
” Well how come they don’t get in trouble for not doing as they are told then? cos if they did things like they said everyone would have a house and not be poor then.”
Ah the innocence of childhood.
This is how a half hour car journey with a seven year old made me revisit the way in which young children make connections, relating them to personal experience and developing their own understanding!
When I could not give him an answer, or rather an answer that he was satisfied with, he simply replied ” I think I will ask my teacher then.”
What a heavy burden teachers have when their students expect them to have all the answers !
*John’s name has been changed.