Our second of our 3 short Huddl blog posts offers advice from Dr Rosemary Taylor on parenting pressure. So many people have asked us about this we really hope this advice helps in some way.
Teaching is the second greatest vocation – the first is being a parent for which we get no training whatsoever. Yes, it can be tough and sadly ‘constant worry’ seems to be the default mode for many parents today, as we rush through life trying to prepare a kale smoothie whilst hurrying the children into the car to get to pre-school Mandarin (yes, you know who you are!!)…
- If we’re honest, our egos ride on how well our children do. We take pleasure from their successes and are disappointed by their failures, not just for them but for ourselves too…
- However, apart from great genes, unconditional love and a good education, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is confidence.
- Crucially, we do this not by endlessly pushing or praising them, but by allowing them to do things for themselves. When you do something for them that they are quite capable of doing for themselves, whether it is carrying a school bag, ‘over-helping’ with homework or a school project or even taking over in a friendship issue, you erode your child’s growing self-esteem.
- Performance at school goes a long way to shaping a child’s future, you know that – and so do they. But it’s a bit like being the trainer of a fighter – you can coach all you like but you can’t go into the ring with them. So the best thing you can do is to stand back and give advice in-between rounds…
- “If you don’t start studying you’ll end up leaving school with nothing, all you’ll be qualified to do is fry burgers or stack shelves in a supermarket…” Unsurprisingly this usually has little or no effect other than to make them feel even worse than they do already! The reality is that most young people WANT to do well in school – they don’t lack motivation but what they do sometimes lack is self-discipline.
- Supervision – agreed timed study periods without phone, TV, internet (except strictly for educational purposes) i.e. exactly as it would be at school – is sensible. At secondary age, and especially when approaching exams, this should be in place whether they have homework or not. After the given time, they can do what they like – free time. Stay with it, it does require effort and input from you too but it works.
- Sometimes it’s ok – and indeed important, to nudge. But it can be a two-edged sword so needs to be used carefully because whilst a gentle push can achieve positive results, there are risks. Push too hard, and they simply stop. High hopes can be a real burden.
- Your role is not to be the smartest or most capable person in the room, your role is to interact, collaborate and foster talent. They will, at times, be discouraged or distracted at which point she will expect you to do the heavy lifting. You can help, but you can’t do it for them – you can and do invest effort in your children, but they have to invest effort in themselves too, that’s the simple truth.
- Be generous, be open-minded, be clear, be persistent, be present – give them your time and energy and, most importantly, the benefit of the doubt. Believe in them, even when they stumble or fail to believe in themselves.
- Always remember that you cannot and should not protect a child from conflict, disappointments, frustrations or mistakes – these experiences are inevitable and affirm your child’s ability to cope with challenges. Through these experiences children sharpen their problem-solving skills, learn to see life as it is and develop tenacity and strength.