Jan 042013

Student teacher in China teaching children Eng...

Picture this. Your child comes home with a special assignment from school. He’s very excited about it and puts in a lot of time to perfect it. He’s thrilled with the result and can’t wait to take it to school.

A few days later, he comes through the door, picks a fight with a younger sibling and bursts into tears. Finally, he manages to tell you that the project he was so proud of was ‘unacceptable,’ that the teacher wants him to do it over.

What’s your first reaction?

a) Protective – “I’ll straighten this out.”
b) Embarrassed – “MY son always gets good grades.”
c) Angry – “That teacher is picking on my son!”
d) Worried – “This could be damaging to his self esteem.”
e) Grateful- “He’s got someone who’s really going to push him to reach his potential this year.”

I think that lots of parents want to believe that ‘e’ is the right answer…. I just remember wishing that it wasn’t so difficult to stifle all of the other reactions on my way to that answer! Sometimes the urge to protect goes a bit too far.

As parents, it’s not our job to see that our children never experience sadness, disappointment or frustration. As much as most of us would like to, we’re probably not going to be able to keep those things out of their lives — now OR when they become adults. But, we can do the next best thing.

We can invest the time that it takes to prepare them to face life’s struggles.

Instead of trying to shield our kids from ‘negativity’ let’s help them embrace tough situations. Why not use the bumps provided by the classroom or the playground to build the strengths they’ll need when applying for a job or surviving an unhappy supervisor?

Isn’t that real learning?

Dec 282012

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone


The first time I read that quote I got goosebumps. I thought about when my son was little and the amount of time I spent worrying. Sometimes it was legitimate. Other times, even though I wasn’t particularly over-protective, it was that unnamed, irrational fear that shows up just because….

I don’t really KNOW why it shows up. Maybe because we love our families SO much that we worry for their safety. Or maybe it’s because we worry about our own ability to respond well if something unforeseen was to happen.

How do you teach your kids about risk?

It takes guts to be a parent.

If you’ve ever done something you thought couldn’t be done, then you KNOW the feeling of exhilaration and competence that comes along accomplishment. Guiding our kids through achieving more and more difficult tasks helps them learn that they can. “They can.”

What is it they can do? Well, that’s between you and them. I just think it’s important that people learn that they can.

Here’s one of my favorite posts about that. “Mom, I’m a Waterskier!”

And a site where moms and people who love them go to change the world

Focus on the future helps us take a deep breath and remember that it is important to teach our kids to accurately evaluate risk and take the steps needed to get where they want to go.

Because they can.

Sep 292010
93lbs AFC-Gold Golden Eagles Team Photo - 2013

93lbs AFC-Gold Golden Eagles Team Photo – 2013 (Photo credit: Jim Larrison)

Not long ago I was talking to a mother who told me that her parents did “not approve of” her approach to her elementary school-aged son’s “less than stellar” grades. Have you ever been stuck in the middle between well-meaning grandparents and their grandchildren?  Ouch.

As the conversation unfolded she shared a number of important thoughts. According to Mom, the young “offender” was (is):

– extraordinarily kind and compassionate
– a bundle of energy, excellent athlete, “good sport” and team player
– very curious and interested in learning
– socially skilled and fairly disinterested in grades

The prevailing wisdom –both from the school and from her parents — was that her son should be grounded from all sports, outdoor breaks and extra-curricular activities until the grades were better.

“People seem to think I’m  far too easy on him, that he’s lazy and I’m simply overprotective and making excuses that encourage poor school performance.”

Perspective is an interesting thing. I wanted to hear more about her thinking and decision-making process.

It was clear that this mom did not consider grades the Holy Grail of learning. Curiosity, problem-solving and creativity ranked pretty high among her values. She was concerned that turning the issue into a battle of wills would have a detrimental effect on her child’s desire to learn. “Maybe I’m wrong but I think that punishing him because he learns differently will do more damage than being a “C” student. Besides, even if punishment turns out to be an effective way to get him to work toward the goal of a better grade, won’t it have a negative impact on the desire and ability to set and achieve goals?”

When I didn’t argue she had more to say.

“Here’s the part that really bugs me. This is a very bright, active person who has already figured out that exercise ‘works’ for him. Where is the logic in depriving him of that tool in order to force him to sit down and focus better? I don’t get it!”

How much personal pressure do you feel about your child’s grades? Do you believe grades reflect performance or compliance? How do you balance respect for the process and classroom management versus your child’s individual learning style? And who is responsible for a child’s education: the parents or the school system?

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