Larry Smith: Does the Child in My Classroom have RAD?

October 3, 2014

by:  Lorraine Schneider

This interview was presented as part of ATN’s Educating Traumatized Children Summit (Day 4).

Larry Smith, LCSW-C:  Does the Child in My Classroom have RAD? 

I believe that Larry Smith hit the nail on the head during his interview. If you are parenting, teaching or working with traumatized children, you will have to agree. Traumatized children in school are like oil and water. That’s how Larry describes the mixture. It’s a very apt description; oil and water will never mix.

  • The school expects her to take instructions from the teacher without arguing. Seriously? That’s not happening.
  • The school thinks that turning her stick to red will change her behavior. Why didn’t I think of that???
  • The school believes that she will work for good grades. Really? Grades don’t matter to a traumatized child.
  • Teachers presume that children want to please adults. That could not be further from the truth.

Face it, schools are set up for compliant children. Our children are anything BUT compliant. Larry says that all the adults in the child’s life need to hand over the responsibility of the child’s life to the child. In my experience, I can see that he is right in many ways. I often work harder than my daughter on her life. But I’m the mom. I’m suppose to work hard, right?

In Larry’s interview, he reframes this. He acknowledges that parents often take the lead in their children’s responsibilities. However, Larry states that we can’t let our children know that we are in the lead. Their choices must be their own, in their eyes. It’s the only way for them to learn to be responsible for themselves.

We, as parents, teachers, and administrators, must give these children choices and options of their own. We must let them take the bull by the horns. Now the hard part – We must accept that the choices they make will not always match the choices we wish they would make, but the choices must be theirs, nonetheless.

This is a challenge that I, as a mom of a traumatized child, feel that I must accept. Her choices should be hers. My daughter is approaching 18 years old. Giving her control of her own life, while knowing that she will fail at times, is been hard. In retrospect, when I have been successful with this, I honestly feel it has made a difference to both her and me.

But, between just you and I, I will always continue to come behind and clean up the occasional mess. Because that’s what moms do. 😉

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