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Saturday 16 March 2013

The excuses for rudeness

I am going to preface this post with the statement that this is my opinion and yes I may get flamed by parents and some of my colleagues but I am going to post it anyway.  I feel like I have this burning in my chest (no it's not a heart attack) and if I can get this out on my blog then I am hoping it will go away.

I had something happen to me this week during playground duty....twice ......with two different children.  Both children were being talked to for using inappropriate language and having arguments and or fighting with another child.  Both students gave me this as their reason for doing what they did....."I have ADHD" in fact in one incident it was also another student that told me "He can't help it if he is naughty, because of his ADHD."
My response was this, "ADHD is not an excuse for rude behaviour or for not following the rules, the rules are the same for everyone."

It got me thinking; I wonder who is giving these children the message that if you have ADHD (or any other diagnosis for that matter)  it is ok to hurt others and flaunt the rules?  Is it parents? teachers? peers? medical practitioners?  All of the above?  Who can say, but I think it is a very dangerous line we reach when students are justifying their actions with their diagnosis and hoping they will not get punished for poor behaviour.  Don't get me wrong I am not saying all students should be educated in the same way, definitely we should be catering for differences.......but this was not catering for differences, this was a kid feeling like he had a licence to do as he pleased and blame his actions on a condition.  Personally I will not accept that.  We can all work toward making sure these children are able to cope with conflict and conforntation without giving them the permission to using ADHD as a cop out.  I can't speak to what treatment if any these particular children were undertaking but I felt if that is the reaction they are giving to a teacher and peers, their treatment needs to be reviewed and parents and students need to educated about ADHD and that it is not about being a naughty child.

As I said this is my opinion but it is based on experience.  Now I don't usually share private details about my children but in this instance I feel it is important for people to know I come from a place of knowing what these children deal with on a daily basis.  My son was diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago and we have worked very hard to get him to a place where he copes in the classroom and at home.  I was actually the one that looked at his behaviours and realised that he had an issue that needed to be addressed.  He is an intelligent, curious boy but there was such a disparity between his intelligence and what he coul produce to show his intelligence, he couldn't sit still......ever......he slept poorly, he had trouble following 2 step instructions, he had difficulty focussing on, well, anything, he had periods of aggression.
We have never excused or accepted poor behaviour or rudeness and brushed it off as his condition, on the contrary, he needs to know that poor behaviour is unacceptable in our society at any level. So he does get consequences at home and at school, woe betide him if I get a phone call from school!!!!
We also work very hard on making sure we have a solid routine, good diet (minus the colours, preservatives and flavours) and adequate sleep and exercise.  Through this we have had some successes, and like others good and bad days, but we take it all in stride and we aim to raise him as a hard working, polite and courteous boy who has a happy childhood and grows up to realise his potential.

Don't get me wrong this is not an easy road to take and we have made some very hard decisions about his education and health and I do empathise with parents and children who have to struggle through this.  My reason for posting today is that I want to get the message out that I believe we are educating our children to excuse poor behaviour instead of taking responsibility for their actions.  Children need to learn that their actions at school and home will have consequences the same as anyone else.  ADHD is not a legal defence in a court of law and should not be a defence in the playground either, where do these children end up if the message they get now is "It is ok to hurt others because you have ADHD."  The thought absolutely saddens me and I was appalled at the fact that these children and their peers saw it as an excuse.  Now we have their peers and friends enabling these students as well.

I am sorry for being such a downer and posting such a heavy topic but I think the only way to get through to parents, teachers and students is to talk about it and not brush it aside.  As I said I am sure there will be many that disagree with me and you are certainly entitled to your opinion......this is just mine.

PS I will end this by acknowledging that I know there are parents who work very hard at helping their child and schools and still come up against walls and I feel their frustration, they are not the people I am targeting here.


  1. I agree with you. This is something I've been struggling with at school in my classroom with one of my little ones who uses her diagnosed condition as an excuse to act up and get away with it. I believe that we should differentiate education to meet the needs of students, but (as you said) society has an expectation of behaviour - and I think it's important to have those high behaviour expectations for ALL students. It's ok if they're learning what those expectations are, but to break them and use an excuse is not fair on those other students (without diagnosis) who are learning the same rules.

    And like you, it's not something I judge parents/careers on, because I can empathise with the challenges that they must face and acknowledge that they're doing the best they can. But we do have behaviour expectations in schools and they're for everyone.

    *hugs* Sometimes we need to get things like this off our chests so that we can release some of that pressure. But know that you're not alone.


    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment Stef, I struggle with this concept on a daily basis as well. It is nice to know others think my opinion is not negatively based. I really want to help this kiddos understand that a diagnosis does not always dictate our choices of behaviour.


    2. I don't think it's negative at all - in fact, if we're not setting high expectations for behaviour then we're doing all of our students a disservice. It's one thing to dismiss poor behaviour choices due to a lack of understanding of why it's a poor choice, and another completely to dismiss it based on a label.


  2. Well said Tania. I think we have all been through situations where the children have it in their head that they can use their condition as an excuse to either not do anything, or to do the wrong thing.

    Keep your head up, have a lovely relaxing weekend.


  3. I agree with you all. We have so many children with diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD at our school and the numbers are only increasing. We cannot make exceptions for these children and as you said Tania, the rules apply for ALL students. Imagine what kind of place the school would be if teachers and other students allowed this behaviour to continue? It's not fair on the other students as schools should be a safe environment to learn in.

    Although these children may find it difficult to deal with certain situations, we need to teach them coping strategies - other than violence. I believe these children should have the same consequence for their behaviour as every other child. I'm sure that there would be many parents that would support teachers in their decision to discipline their children. Unfortunately, there will always be those few that won't - which is sad - but out of our control.

    We can only do our best.... which I am sure you are!

    Deep breaths - and yes, venting is often the best medicine.

    Little Learners

    1. Thank you all for your support. I guess I was just sad that this is where some of our students are at, but I will always stick to my guns and make sure that ALL my students get a fair go.
      You ladies are awesome, thanks


  4. ADHD is a difficult disorder to manage. My daughter was recently diagnosed and she/we are still really struggling! But, I would be HORRIFIED if she ever used it as an excuse like that!
    I know she can't control some of her behaviours, but I'd expect her to try. She always feels very contrite if she has "forgotten" and acted impulsively.