Here’s a parenting question I get often: Should I condemn or condone quitting an activity? I was fortunate enough to have this exact conversation with Jen Zamzow, PhD for her Good Housekeeping article “It’s Okay to Let Kids Quit Things.” And this is what we discussed…
In the wake of the recent college admissions scandal, my concern is with the students who are waking up to a whole new vision of themselves. Many of them from fifty known families—so far—apparently knew none of what their parents were up to—until now.
Some received a sports scholarship in a sport never played using photoshopped headshots; some had their SAT and ACT tests corrected by paid off proctors; some even had their tests taken for them. Coaches at the elites took huge amounts of money from an agent of a falsified non-profit who took even more from parents desperate to give their children a prestigious resume and a bumper sticker for their cars. The illegal non-profit allowed the parents to deduct their payments as donations.
Imagine what it must feel like to be that college student oblivious to what got you accepted? What happens to any trust you have in your parents—or any trust you thought they had in you? And then to find out your parents are under arrest for their illegal conduct. How could you not feel
Kids don’t want to do chores. That’s a fact. Expect this. That doesn’t mean let them off the hook. It is essential for our kids to be contributing members of the family to develop an investment in and consideration for their family members. A family is a team. When you are on a team, every team player is important to the working of the whole.
But when you yell, bribe, or threaten them to do their chores, the underlying assumption is that they should want to but they don’t. This unrealistic expectation means you will yell when that expectation is not met. But if you understand that kids don’t want to do chores, you will be more effective at ensuring they get to work.
Remember when your toddlers and preschoolers begged to run the vacuum, fold laundry, wash windows, and sweep the floor? It would have taken the entire morning and you’d have to do it over anyway. You didn’t have the time or patience so you got them out of the way to just get it done. Well, you
Of course, you want your children to succeed in school. You do all you can to manage getting their best. But what really is your job? Is it to insure good grades, getting involved in the right sports and extra-curriculars, and diligently doing their homework? If so how involved do you get? And what do you do if they don’t meet your expectations?
Do you know that all your best intentions can undermine your child’s school success and desire to learn?
Children are natural learners. We come evolved to soak up all the learning we can — until it becomes a requirement. Remember when your toddler kept asking you why? until you wanted to scream? How is she doing now in the curiosity department?
Here are four key aspects to help you help your children succeed in school:
1. Stay Out of It
This makes parenting so much easier, gives you more time for connection, and hands over the responsibility they need to learn. But it’s hard give up managing your kids’ school lives and work, especially if your
Q. How do you encourage gratitude in your children when they receive gifts? Mine just tear into them and could care less where they came from. I feel the cold stares from my family members when they are not acknowledged, or I have to tell my kids to say thank you. They’re old enough to know better.
A. Expression of gratitude is not to be expected in the early years of naturally egocentric development—generally before six or seven. The egocentric stage means they are not cognitively able to step out of their own spere to see and comprehend how someone else experiences life. Consideration for someone’s else’s feelings is often expected way too early. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to tell them how you feel and validate their feelings when expressed. But to say, How do you think your friend would feel if you grabbed a toy from him? in an effort to teach kindness, will only feel like blame to your under six child and could set her back even further in self-protective mode.
Do you, unintentionally, teach your children that their school performance is for you—not for them? If so, school motivation will diminish.
Parents place so much value on grades and performance that the message to the child is, I care more about how you do than what you do. For too many children, school is a prison sentence to endure, and if they don’t do well, they are a huge disappointment to the most important people in their lives. We need to hand over education to our children and let them know they have our support in doing the best they can but not our disapproval if they don’t.
Jacquelynne Eccles, professor of psychology and research scientist at the University of Michigan, has said, “… motivation and engagement in school on average drops as they move from the elementary school into the secondary school system. You see it in attendance, in getting into trouble, in drop outs from high school and also in dropping out of college.” Dr. Eccles’ perspective of why this is stems from the mindset of the
If your child is graduating from kindergarten, elementary school or middle school, the next step is obvious. Worse-case scenario is repeating a grade. Many high school graduates will go on to college. But for those at the end of their academic journey, there is the world at large waiting for them. Most parents are left with the big question at the end of their active parenting years: Will they be embraced or will that world knock them down? For most graduates, anxiety may grow to major proportion: Can I make it? Will I be able to earn a living? Can I afford a place to live? Am I ready for this? Will I fail?
Whether a job is waiting or not, more and more adult children are moving back home for both financial and emotional support. Many situations are positive with another wage earner helping make ends meet. But the growing population of adult children unable to find jobs and continuing to live off mom and dad does not bode well for our economy and the future of our youth.
Never have I experienced such a collective button being pushed than with Amy Chua’s revelatory story of how she raised her two girls the Chinese way. Is it the threat we feel when she throws western parenting under the bus? This is what happens to anyone of us when we feel blamed, disdained, or put down. We get defensive and either take it in as defeat or fight back. Exactly what our children do when we blame them. We are clearly getting our hackles up as she puts down what we do, especially what we have doubts about doing.
I just finished the book, and I must say I found her unabashedly honest about her dictatorial methods that would make the hair on anyone’s neck stand straight up—methods she says would be seen even as illegal in the western culture. I have a hard time believing that most Chinese mothers would say the things that Chua said to her girls. Her story points out many things we can learn from. Her girls are as different as night and day attesting