Question: I have a 6-year-old that seems to have a problem with the classroom aide. If she knows the aide is going to be at school, she doesn’t want to go. I had a conference at the beginning of the year with the teacher and aide but it didn’t help. My daughter started seeing a therapist after a couple of months when nothing I did seemed to help, and we found she had anxiety with OCD. The aide says that things are fine, but I don’t totally trust her word. Can you please help me? I am not sure if it’s my daughter’s anxiety or if there is really a problem with the aide?
Myrna Shure: You mention a couple of different issues, and I’ll focus on your daughter’s difficulty with the classroom aide. From the aide’s response when you talk to her, it is difficult to tell whether the aide really does pose a problem for your daughter, or whether your daughter is placing blame on the aide for other problems at school. Regardless of which is true, the first step is to help your daughter focus her attention on something other than the aide. Whether or not your daughter has OCD, start with asking her to think of just one thing about school that she likes. If needed, give her a choice, such as, “Do you like math?” “Do you like reading?” “Do you like playing outside at recess?” Talk about what she chooses for a while, why she likes it, and what she does when she’s engaged in that activity. Share a story about what you liked about school when you were her age. By focusing on something positive, the aide may take on less importance, she might like school, and she may even see the aide in a new light.
If the above suggestion doesn’t work, ask her to tell you one thing about school that she would like to make better. Then guide her to think about what she can do to make that better. She may even name the classroom aide. If this is the case, helping her to think through specifically what it is that she doesn’t like, and being involved in the process of solving this problem, she may also see the aide in a new light.
Whichever suggestion your child responds to, the aide should begin to take on less intense importance, and her new focus can help your daughter become excited about school once again.