When are kids are having a struggle our tendency is to want to solve the problem and ease their pain. And often, that’s the right move. But the real challenge comes when we need to let our child own his struggle and our job is not to save them but support, train and encourage them so they handle it on their own.
Sometimes we need to become coaches, other times we become detectives in order to find out what’s going on and occasionally we are simply supportive bystanders.
The situation, our child’s temperament (see Vive la Differénce at the end of this post) and past experiences all come into play when we are helping our kids learn how to deal with adversity.
It’s Not Always Champagne and Roses
“My son Justin just doesn’t like his Grade 5 teacher. What should I do? I’m thinking of taking a leave of absence from my job to home-school, or sending him to private school. What do you recommend?”
If a parent in one of my presentations were to ask this question I would want a lot more information.
Is the teacher being abusive in any way? Are Justin’s marks suffering? Does he have friends at school? Is he sleeping and eating normally?
My guess is that this boy is just fine; he simply doesn’t like his teacher. Why? Well maybe the teacher is challenging him to perform at a higher level. Maybe she is simply a bit stricter than his previous teachers. Maybe he was the teacher’s favourite last year but isn’t this year and he misses the extra attention
Bottom line, we are not going to go through life having every teacher, coach, colleague and boss be our favourite people. Life just isn’t like that. And even with people we like and love, it’s still not always perfect.
So, you can see this situation as an opportunity to teach Justin to deal with people he doesn’t necessarily like but has to work with. This will prepare him for life. If you turn your life upside down because he is simply a bit uncomfortable, how does this help him to become a capable adult able to work with all sorts of people?
You can help him by teaching him to pay attention to what the teacher needs from him. What is the best way to approach her?
By the end of the school year he will know that he can spend time with someone he doesn’t particularly like, he can learn from her and succeed in grade 5 and he is fine. He may even learn to respect her over time or even to like her once he adjusts to her different style.
Part of growing up is learning that life is not always easy, relationships are not always champagne and roses. Your needs will not always be met. There will be times in work relationships, friendships, family dealings and marriage when you need to put your needs aside and focus on the other.
I can understand the concern of a parent when his child doesn’t like his teacher. It’s hard to think of your child being unhappy. You want him to like everyone in his life and have them like him. How can anyone not adore your perfect little angel?
Helping your children deal with relationships is a rocky business because it’s something we also deal with on a daily basis. Relationships are a challenge, even the best is not perfect but a good relationship is worth the work.
We need to help our kids to understand that when life hands them a challenge they need to face it, not avoid it. And it starts with a Grade 5 teacher whom a young child doesn’t particularly like.
If the parent assures the child that they can handle the relationship, that they can work with people they don’t like and that the world will not come to a crashing halt because of this negative relationship it’s a start to teaching her about the reality of dealing with real people.
If the parent promptly saves her child from every uncomfortable situation, the child learns that he has no need to learn to handle different experiences. In the case of Justin and his teacher; if his parents acknowledge that he would prefer another teacher but then teach him how to handle this year with this teacher Justin has an valuable skill to take with him into adulthood.
Vive la Différence
There are so many times when we are raising our kids when we note their differences. My mini guide e-book , Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments addresses this.
I have always known that each child is a unique individual. I looked at my two who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a textbook example of different.
But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking.
The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. The guide is available on my website.
How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?
I offer keynotes and workshops, I have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.