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ADHD at School

Teacher's Comment in Front Of Me. Opinions? Weighing heavily.

My kindergartner has been having a lot of trouble in his class. He’s gotten a bit better according to his coach, who moved my son in the front so he wouldn’t get distracted. Unfortunately, his teacher hasn’t told me anything about any improvements concerning him in the classroom: he still doesn’t finish his work, doesn’t follow directions, etc. 
Anyway, during carpool his teacher always places him in the vehicle, and my son, although very highly intelligent, is “slow” getting in. As if he has to absorb everything before he takes off his backpack and gets into the vehicle.
So yesterday, his teacher is putting him in, and as he is getting in (and I’m rushing him too since I know she rushes him), she said “this boy’s blood runs as slow as molasses”.
Then, as usual, minutes later he answers my question of how his day was with “I had a horrible day”, which he always says.
I smiled because I then found out where my son got the word “molasses” from, and also because I’ve never heard anyone use that word other than in a recipe context smile. BUT, after telling my husband, then later my mom this, they both responded with the exact same response. Which was that my son’s teacher was rude.
I feel like an idiot! To smile and find humor in a teachers comment like that about my son and in front of us.
Can someone maybe give me advice on what I should do from here? I don’t want to overreact especially because I, unfortunately wouldn’t have saw the rudeness if it wasn’t for my family telling me :(. And also, the last thing he needs is to be with a teacher who makes him feel bad for 8 hrs day.

thank you


I have to mention that I didn’t smile after he told me he had a horrible day….the smiling happened in front of the teacher right after she said her comment about his blood running as slow as molasses.
I just reread smile

Posted by JoieDeVivre on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:13pm

I don’t know that I would be that concerned about the comment per se.  I grew up with that type of phrasing, and it generally is referring to someone who moves slow or transitions slowly (as opposed to being mentally slow).  He was moving slow at the time so I would be OK with that.

The bigger concern is the comment on the “horrible day” every day.  What is really going on?  Is he receiving negative feedback all day long due to his behaviors?  This can be detrimental if it continues longterm (which it often does as he is likely already labelled).

Posted by Jakes dad on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:19pm

The teacher / student relationship should always be one built on positive steps - derogatory remarks should not be part of that interaction.

However, I always like to give people the benefit of doubt especially if I haven’t had prior issues with them.

All of us here understand better then most the speed at which our children process, react, engage etc. Parenting a child with ADHD is exhausting and at times frustrating. We love our kids so we work hard to not let them see our frustration.

Perhaps this teacher had an exceptionally exhausting day or two in the classroom and was simply releasing some of that tension. Although this was not appropriate for her to say - don’t jump to the conclusion she was malicious.

Without knowing more about previous interactions/conversations you’ve had with her it’s hard for me to judge her intent.

Moving forward I would meet privately with the teacher as soon as possible. Let her know that you found the comment hurtful. Let her know that you are aware your son sometimes needs more time to transition from one thing to the next.

Finally let her know your expectation as a parent is that she builds him up by focussing on the things he is doing well and by praising him out loud when he is successful. That in the future if she’s had a hard day with him that information should be shared privately with you.

Let me reiterate: The teacher / student relationship should always be one built on positive steps - derogatory remarks should not be part of that interaction.

Hope this helps - Jenny

Posted by Jennyrae on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:34pm

I wouldn’t be so concerned with that particular phrase, because we used that phrase a lot growing up in the Midwest, and it simply meant that someone was not moving quickly that day, or at that moment, and did not mean anything pertaining to intellectual ability.

However, I, too, would be more concerned with your son’s comment that he had yet another horrible day.  And it would make me wonder if the teacher is belittling him in other ways or simply not being as thoughtful and positive as she should be.  As JennyRae said above, interactions with teachers should ALWAYS be positive, and I totally agree with that.

My son has had two teacher who belittled and shamed him in front of the class for not focusing or for not getting his work done quickly enough, and it did irreparable damage to his self-esteem.  He started hating school and his grades suffered.  We’re still working our way back from that.

We actually changed schools because of the way those teachers treated him. So, I would have a meeting with the teacher and, very nicely, tell her that you think your son feels put down, and maybe it’s not intentional, blah, blah, blah.  You have to make sure his self-esteem is being built up, not pushed down.

Posted by JAMurphy on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:53pm

Having a horrible day is one things.  We all have encountered a horrible day, just as soon as u wake up for some.  I didn’t take offense to the molasses comment.  I gave a chuckle when I read it.  We sometimes are as slow as molasses.  To me if your child is taking his time, to see what’s around him, good for him.  It’s the rest of the world that needs to slow down. I can understand if the teacher said something out right mean or cruel.  But, I didn’t see that here.

Posted by happynewyorker on Nov 23, 2013 at 12:03am

I agree with everyone else that the molasses comment was not meant in a mean or derogatory manner.  I doubt the teacher saying that comment at the end of they day though caused or causes him to have a “horrible day” every day.  That is what you need to be focusing on.  Don’t let some minor distraction keep you from focusing on the real problem.  If you complain about the molasses thing then the teacher will think you are just nitpicky about every little thing and will not take the real concerns seriously.  Concentrate on what matters.  Find out why he feels every day is a horrible day and work on fixing that!

Posted by Cameo on Nov 23, 2013 at 12:16am

As an early childhood educator I can tell you that comment was UNACCEPTABLE!! Aside from being rude it shows the teacher says negative things about children, in front of them. Not OK.  I don’t think her intentions were malicious, but the comment highlights her perception of your son.  She doesn’t understand they way he goes about the world.

For him, getting into the car is a big deal.  It is a major transition in his day.  School and home are different places with different people, expectations, etc.  I bet his young mind is racing trying to get himself through this transition -he is not at all aware of this processing and could never articulate it.

Doesn’t finish work.  Doesn’t follow directions.  Doesn’t have an engaging atmosphere or an understanding teacher. 

I think you should confer with the teacher and share concerns about his happiness and how he can feel successful at school.  Come up with a list of his strengths and see how you can (as a team) use his strengths to guide him towards clearly defined goals.  For example, maybe he needs to be picked up last so he can have extra transition time.

If there is another negative comment, use it as a teachable moment, “when you say he moves as slow as molasses, it makes me feel uncomfortable.  He is not trying to hold up the line.” The ‘when you say/do X, it makes me feel Y’ strategy is hallmark of early childhood conflict resolution. 

You know your son best.  If an educator can not see his strengths and respect his challenges, then she does not deserve to have him in her class (or to have a credential in my opinion).

Posted by Pearceape on Nov 23, 2013 at 12:59am

thank you so much for all of your replies. I guess it’s a matter of personal opinion on whether to take offense at the comment. I didn’t…my husband and mother (who I think are less as offended easily than myself) did though.

I think what makes the matter tough is that she hasn’t been the most patient (with my son) teacher…I’m not surprised though. He IS difficult to handle, but NOT impossible…no child is. I think I expected too much from her because she’s one of the longest working teachers at the school, but apparently that doesn’t mean she has the slightest idea about adhd. By husband thinks her age is a big factor in dealing with son.

As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I’ve actually bawled my eyes out in tears with her before. I went to his award assembly (a small one in the classroom before they get report cards), and before I could get in the door, she told me “you know he’s not getting any award? For what? What can he get an award for?”.
I felt SO bad for him, and I cried in front of her. I told her I felt bad for him because it’s not entirely his fault (he’s a bit immature emotionally, real sensitive, etc.). She did feel bad after, but yeah…I’m in tears now. Oh well, thanks again everyone. I appreciate the time you all took to let me know what u think. smile.
Just going to spend the rest of our vacation time learning and playing like he loves, and he’ll return to his school with his high-IQ vengeance.

Posted by JoieDeVivre on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:16pm

As a parent of a brilliant, kind, sensitive ADHD child who struggled to keep up with the increased workload and rapid transitions of the elementary years, I relate and feel for you.  In first grade, my son started the struggles by being placed in a classroom with a 35 yr veteran with a PhD (she let me know that when I didn’t agree with her report about my son).  She may have been educated, but she did NOT know how to communicate with me to let me know we were together in trying to help my son succeed in the classroom.  She had really high expectations of the class to work independently.  After awhile, my husband and I avoided her because she was so brash.  But that did not make life for him any better.  He wouldn’t even open his backpack at the end of the day, because she was writing negative notes to me.  I had to ask her to begin writing something positive which helped immensely.  So make sure to have ongoing communication with your child’s teacher (emails as well as phone calls.  Emails provide written documentation). She needs to know how your child feels at the end of the day.  If she doesn’t change her ways, then ask for a pow-wow with her and the principal.  We did that. The principal could better communicate what was going on and we weren’t having to process her tone/comments. And also keep communication open with your child.  Allow your child to express how he is interpreting her comments and the day.  Sometimes, what the teacher says and what the child “hears” are not the same thing.  Also,
there needs to be a chance for success.  (Modify the task/assignments?).
Get on top of this early.  We did not and by junior high, my son hated school and was a bear to try and motivate after school to do homework.  It was his friends that he went to school with every morning that motivated him to get to school.
Good luck.

Posted by Momfirst on Nov 24, 2013 at 11:28pm

I was all for giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt, until I read that the teacher said your son wasn’t getting an award. I am a 31 year veteran elementary teacher. We are not all cranky. Teachers get paid to love and care about children—even the ones who can try the patience of a saint.  There is something loveable and important about each child. Any teacher worth his/her salt could have named something positive about your child. For all the devoted teachers out there, I apologize and am sorry you were treated so callously.

Posted by nwrain on Nov 25, 2013 at 5:30am

When kids get comments about what they ARE, they take it in as a judgment. When they get comments about how they are BEING or what they are DOING, they can separate it from their self-concept.

It would have been better for the teacher to say, “Your blood is running slow as molasses TODAY, isn’t it?” That would have given your child a lyrical way to connect his his inner experience with what someone outside of him was perceiving.

But instead, your guy got a blow to his self-esteem and fell into self-doubt.

Make sure you tell him his blood’s not really made of molasses, that was just her way of describing what it seemed like at that moment. Make sure his teacher tells him the same thing! Point out all the times his blood goes really fast, too, and that both are okay.

If he can use this metaphor to connect to his experience, he might learn to use it to his advantage when he needs to switch gears. With self-awareness, we can all tell our “blood to move slower and faster.”

Posted by Kristen Caven on Nov 30, 2013 at 7:48am

My mother and grandmother both said I was as slow as molasses in January. With inattentive ADHD there is a strong possibility of Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) according to ADHD researcher Russell Barkley A common observation of people with ADHD inattentive type is that it takes longer-two or three times as long-to accomplish the same task as those without. Additional time for tests and assignments is one of the most common accomodations for students with ADHD. There is nothing to be offended at by the comment it is simply an observation expressed with a common metaphor. Not all comments on ADHD behavior will be so inoccuous. Prepare for some harsh ones. They are coming.

Posted by piospal on Nov 30, 2013 at 10:33am

Hi JoieDeVivre!

Ask the school, in writing, to test your child’s processing speed. That score is usually part of an IQ test. My son’s IQ section scores were all in the 90s except the section on Processing Speed, where he scored a 45. That shows very clearly that he does not process information as quickly as he should and at what would be considered a “normal” speed for him—all section scores should be within a close range.

My son is very hyperactive, his mind is moving at an incredible speed, yet he is not PROCESSING information as quickly as he should. Having this information for your son could explain his cognitive sluggishness more clearly and change the way teachers work with your child.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Dec 02, 2013 at 6:11pm

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