“Take this boy. Bring him to the clinic,” notes of a school psychologist

November 3, 2016

Psychologist Vitaly Sonkin and then gives the “Home” useful tips on parenting and understanding children. And he talks interestingly about what they face in their work.

Vitaly Sonkin, psychologist

Vitaly Sonkin,

psychologist, psychotherapist, Gestalt therapist

Sometimes friends ask me: “so, how’s work? C what now people come?” Come with your sorrow and joys, doubts and curiosity, hope and enthusiasm. To write about revelation is difficult, because we are obliged to keep secret history of a customer. How to share the discoveries that arise in communication, full trust and respect? For this column I had to find a suitable form. And I must say that a large part of my practice is the search with the client a suitable form for the expression of his experiences and the realization of desires.

When I was starting a psychological practice, psychologists have demonstrated their effectiveness in working with children, and to reduce the child to “diagnose” is not considered shameful.

In schools then, there were the experts to whom parents and teachers began to listen. Then I started working with children first in school for gifted children, then the children’s psychological center. We did different projects for parents and educators, children are able and lagging, orphans and disorders of behavior, advised, tried different methods, from computer to sand and art therapy. Here are a few observations of school life.

School readiness

There is a phrase – school readiness. As to it it is necessary to be ready is unknown, but the opinion everyone has.

My father, a physiologist, was sure that it is expressed in the ability to reach the ear opposite arm across the top of the head.

Have you tried? For an adult it is a trifling matter, and the baby to 7 years old is not physically capable of proportionally huge head and short arms. In 6 years, all I did was stretched to ear to get a start in adult life and October badge to boot.

I’m a psychologist and use absolutely other methods. Of course there are formal things: check the attention and fatigue, the ability to create a story in pictures, to draw, to read something else, but my favorite question child: why do people go to school?

“Like what? It is necessary to walk!” “And yet, why?” “To be smart” – the future first-grader is trying to find the “right” answer.

“Why be smart?”

“To not laugh the other” – and it becomes clear that his motivated to study at home.

“And why not laugh?”

“To… not know. It’s a shame because when you laugh!”

“Still, why not laugh?”

“In order to bring to play along…”

“And what do you need to take to play?”

“So it was not boring,” the kid blurts out, and here we see that in school, he is going to learn.

“And why would a person want to miss this.”

“Not to be sad. And what he’ll do.”

This young man in school can be fun, but lessons will have to suffer – it seems that to be alone, to independently perform tasks unusual for him.

Often children share in this dialogue about the fears of parents: “in Order not to become homeless”, “in a good Institute to go and get a job”.

But sometimes talking about their dreams: “Yes, I when I grow up, I want to go on an expedition to look for a missing city!” “To become smart and to help those in need, earn the money and give to the poor” – Yes, it happens sometimes.

In General, it seems that school readiness is decreasing every year. Of course, not physiologically – hand is not shortened. Teenagers already know where to get the information they need, and the school sometimes hinders rather than helps. But the main difficulty in the school (and its main advantage) is that I have to deal with the crowd and adapt in the large social world.

The crowd in school

In General, in school and a lot of people. Different. And not very pleasant, interesting and boring, sociable and unsociable. How they all get along together is a mystery, it is theoretically impossible. Among them there are those who are particularly difficult: anyone have pain in the same place – they are now called hyperactive. Those who rule this crowd does not understand and lives “on the wave” – then talking about Asperger’s. Bunch avoids and dislikes, and often trying to eradicate. Judge for yourself: all at their desks, and he is under the Desk. All perform the job, and he talks back to the teacher.

I have seen different ways to deal with it. I knew the boy whom the teacher was locked up for the change in the class, so he ran down the corridor, and no one molested. Participated several times in situations where the parents wrote a collective letter to take the boy, take him to the clinic, in the experiments (as Sylvester).

The reaction of these parents is understandable, but not productive. Saw the school urges to move the child from the home training – out of sight.

And even saw one teacher who thought that she was an investigator: she gathered the child a huge folder of files, which kept the certificates of all curses spoken, all the fights with his participation, characteristics of teachers, the testimony of “victims” and even, as a pair, a pair of scissors, with which he threatened someone from classmates, and other incriminating evidence.

Had to meet with the other party: with children who are afraid to go to school because of threats and persecution suffered by the adults who continue the habit to be wary of any unproven companies. Once to me brought a girl that had just strangled a classmate. Beat her shiver, shaking, and she could not utter a word, choking, intermittent breathing. Confused teachers didn’t know how to calm the child, tried to comfort her – this is clearly not helped. I began to pull the sheets out of the notebook and give her to them crumpling. She then furiously began to do it, and then throw the resulting lumps. After about five minutes of this reaction, the girl relaxed a bit and was able to talk, to tell what happened to her.

But once I saw a terrific class.

It was the fifth graders who, as at that age, was sure that they weren’t very friendly. We spent with them playing with creative tasks. In the class there was a boy “on the wave”. In the common newspaper he drew a black cat. She was not quite in the subject, but he had prepared a story about superstition and it’s relation to him, which he wanted to share with everyone. The boys especially gave him the floor, knowing that he cares, he listened quietly, then discreetly stopped when he chose the allowed time. In this class all knew about the features of this boy, and treated him with understanding and respect and so everyone was comfortable. It was surprisingly touching, and so clearly shows what results can bring a tremendous work of teachers and parents, created in this class an atmosphere of dignity.


I had two grandmothers: one was said that five should be the norm, so for them to praise not necessarily, but threes and twos completely unacceptable. Another argued that the best rating is three, because it means that you’re not overworked, and the necessary minimum done. These two different plants have generated in me some inner freedom.

Somehow I came up with a simple exercise that shows the power of assessment. Each of you can remember and recite any poem or at least a quatrain. And many can even get pleasure from it. But things will change if need to do this for a rating – just imagine! And even more, if such readers a few, and there rating: someone read better, and someone worse.

If you imagine this, it is easy to see how changes related to the poem, and to read and to the audience.

And the children are in this situation constantly. And hardest on those on the edge – the best and the worst. And those and others trapped by expectations, they have less room to maneuver, they feel the oppression of public opinion: “you should always be well done” or “you won’t succeed”.

But no less difficult for parents. They also immediately chills the shame, when their own children failed. Know why with other people’s children to do homework much easier? Because to make, when dear little child is not thinking, it is impossible for the vulnerable parent ego. A stranger – let him not think health! However, evaluation is important as a feedback tool. But it is important how the parent reacts to them: multiply their importance, praising and berating; or devalues and ignores; or pays attention and sees them as a signal with which the child copes and what he needs help.

Article Categories:
Children's education

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