Monday, September 19, 2011

The Well-Adjusted Child

The following document is extracted from a quiz at the children activities website Kaboose designed to help parents establish whether their child is well-adjusted. This is offered almost without comment: I have simply reproduced each question followed by the ‘correct’ answer.

You might find that there is nothing particularly egregious about this exercise, and as a parent of a child with an intellectual disability I can also say that we have been asked worse questions. However I think the normative value of this document is peculiar, in that what is being sought here – with reference to the guidelines from Mental Health America – is evidence of a well-adjusted child, and not of a particular psychopathology or developmental problem. In other words, by placing its emphasis on the symptoms of normalcy, the test defines anything but the young model subject as a deviation, an abnormality.

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1. Your child is missing one of his favorite running shoes — again. He rummages under his bed, checks the hall closet and finally grabs another pair, saying he'll look again later so he won't be late for school.

2. All the girls in your daughter's class have been invited to a bowling party, and you offer to help supervise. At the bowling alley, you notice that our daughter gets along, more or less, with her classmates. She and her friends Mackenzie and Georgia spend a lot of time giggling over nothing, and when that mean girl Ally laughs at her gutter balls, she ignores her.

3. Your child is afraid of that dog in the horror film your teenage nephew watched (without your permission!) while he was babysitting. [this being an example of an appropriate fear, as opposed to ‘each and every dog on the planet, as he's generally skittish around loud animals, people or events.’]

4. Your child's eating and sleeping patterns are pretty good. She generally sleeps through the night and has a good appetite.

5. Granddad asks your child how school is going. Your child talks eagerly about his likes and dislikes, and shows him what he's been working on. You add that his teacher says he's progressing well in most areas.

6. Your family is attending a special "Dinosaur Day" at the local community center. Your child has a fantastic time checking out the exhibits, listening attentively to the show organizers, doing crafts, playing dinosaur games and following giant footprints around the center.

Your child's energy level is fairly consistent and appropriate, allowing for the occasional post-sleepover fatigue and special-occasion excitement.

Result: Doing A-OK

Your child is likely on the right track. According to Mental Health America, signs of good mental health in children include the following: • has friends and gets along with other children • can concentrate and focus attention • fears are reasonable and not excessive • shows respect for other people • maintains a reasonable amount of energy throughout the day • has relatively stable sleeping and eating patterns • shows reasonable interest and progress in school • satisfied at least some of the time with most aspects of life—family, friends, school, physical appearance • does not become angry or anxious over minor inconveniences or setbacks • has hobbies and enjoys different activities

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merc said...

It's a prayer for mental health in America from Mental Health In America. But I do wonder if they spent less time and money bombing civilians if they would feel better about themselves?

Helen Heath said...

Any child that ticks all those boxes is abnormal or has been body-snatched by aliens.

Tom Ackroyd said...

I submitted the "wrong" answers to see what the result would be.

"A lot of B answers point to struggles with anger and aggression. Work with your doctor and caregivers to show your child how to channel frustration in a healthy constructive way."

This makes me struggle with anger and aggression.

Daphne Moran said...

I have this theory, that a 'well-behaved' child is a frightened child. I only have one child to test this on - so the theory is completely unsubstantiated, but it seems really true with T. If she is frightened she reverts to 'well-adjusted' if she is comfortable she will ask for attention, not answer anything she doesn't want to and not do anything she doesn't feel okay about and well, when she's by herself, in her teens or whatever, and someone asks her to get in a car, I'd really like her to have a sense of what SHE thinks is safe and unsafe and not worry about whether it is well-adjusted or not.

Giovanni Tiso said...

This makes me struggle with anger and aggression.

This is the profile for the even wronger answers.

Watch Out for Anxiety

A lot of C answers may indicate a higher-than-usual levels of anxiety. Consult your doctor and other professionals to learn how to help your child cope with fears and anxiety. For example, you can teach your child soothe anxious feelings by taking deep breaths, or, for older children, by writing down their feelings in a journal. This helps your child see her fears as less overwhelming.