Don’t you just love springtime? The world is new and fresh, and full of possibilities! Let’s all spend some time cultivating the hope of Spring by remembering all the things we love and enjoy about our children, and all the ways we can actively and intentionally bless them with our hope and our pleasure in them.
Sit down for a minute! Sip a cup of tea. Enjoy a moment of rest and relaxation. Think about the people you love. Close your eyes and visualize their faces. Smile! Maybe leaf through an album of family pictures — or scroll through an album on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Smile some more. Banish those negative thoughts! What do your children need to grow up strong and confident — your positive support or your perfection? What do you need to feel like a successful parent — your children’s positive growth and development, or their perfection? What will your children remember when they’re grown — the love and support of their family, or the perfection of their family?
Children are born with the brain they were given, and all the strengths and challenges that come with that brain. There isn’t a child in this world who doesn’t have strengths and challenges. The job of childhood — and of parenthood — is to learn how to live happily and successfully in that brain. That’s what self-esteem is all about — not an inflated sense of self, but an honest self of self. Not a life free of challenges, but the ability to overcome challenges and move on.
Get a pad of paper and write down every word you can think of that describes your child. Write down all the words that other people have used to describe your child. No editing — just write them down in a list! Now we’re going to flip the negative words — because for every word with a negative implication, there are positive words that mean the same thing. We have a choice in how we frame things — so let’s be positive! Here are some examples:
Hyperactive = energetic
Stubborn = determined
Know-it-all = excellent memory
Disrespectful = assertive
Into everything = creative
Questions everything = curious
Talks too much = strong verbal skills
Won’t follow directions = thinks outside the box
Unfocused = imaginative
Smart aleck = clever
Cries easily = sensitive
Now add all the things about your child that make you proud. Does he have a strong sense of justice? Does she have a cheerful spirit? Is he always willing to help others? Does she always follow through on her promises? Write it down!
Now we’ll move on to positive goals and aspirations. What does your child want to be when she grows up? What are his strongest interests? What activities has she most enjoyed, and been best at? Write these down, because these are the areas in which your child needs opportunities to learn and explore. It’s your job as a parent to provide these opportunities as best you can. Does your child love to sing? Join the children’s choir at church. Does your daughter want to be an astronaut? Plan a family vacation to the Kennedy Space Center. Does your son love the outdoors? Join the Boy Scouts. Does your child love to cook? Plan a “cooking lesson” one night a week. Successful parenting is all about providing our children with the opportunities to develop their gifts and interests — whatever those gifts and interests might be.
Now you have three lists: List 1 includes all the words people use to describe your child — expressed positively. List 2 includes the things that make you proud of your child. List 3 includes the areas of interest in which your child needs opportunities to learn and explore.
All children have gifts — some of the gifts are just hard to find and hard to express. Parents can start by loving the child they were given — he may not be a rocket scientist and she might not be a concert pianist and he might not be a star athlete — but every child has core strengths that need to be nurtured and admired. Sometimes it’s easy to do that, and sometimes it’s hard — but it’s the major job of parenthood. Many times, children who have behavioral issues at home and at school are wonderful, strong adults if we can guide them rather than crush their spirit. It’s often the assertive, determined, unconventional people who make the difference in the world — but these are the same traits that can make a child hard to raise and hard to teach.
If your child has gifts that are hard to unwrap, it’s almost certain that he has trouble in school. School is designed for kids who think and behave in the box, and school is run by people who, for the most part, think and behave in the box. There’s nothing wrong or bad about that — it’s just the reality of school. Kids who think differently and behave differently, kids who question authority and don’t like following rules, will have trouble in school. Parents can get mad and fight, or they can find a way to work with teachers and principals to smooth the way for a difficult child. That’s really the choice — parents can get mad and act out their frustration, or they can stand up for their child in an effective way. And that’s our task in the next article in this series– learning how to work with the school in a positive, effective way that highlights our child’s gifts and focuses on problem-solving and cooperation. That’s our new motto: Don’t be mad — be effective!
Spend some time looking at your three lists. Make a plan for how you will provide your child with at least one opportunity or experience, based on his gifts, interests, and positive traits. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
What is the opportunity or experience?
Do you need to gather information, fill out an application, or make arrangements?
Who do you call to get information? Write down a name and number.
When will you have this information? Pick a date.
When and where does this opportunity or experience take place?
How much does it cost, if anything?
When is registration due?
Our very own education specialist Alice Wellborn is now a regular contributor at FlyLady.net and we are thrilled to share her wise words with all of you. Alice is a school psychologist and the author of the amazingly helpful book No More Parents Left Behind. Get the book at: http://www.nomoreparentsleftbehind.com/
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