In a recent post I list one of two basic goals of parenting as: preparing your children for the day they leave.
That’s both the biggest relief and the biggest heartbreak about parenting; they don’t leave all at once – it happens in increments, if you allow it.
There’s the point really: we have to allow our children to separate from us slowly by learning to speak and advocate for themselves starting at the youngest ages.
When you take your 3 year old to the pediatrician let your child explain how she feels. She’ll leave stuff out of the explanation and that’s OK – you can fill in the gaps.
Children advocating for themselves at school
Nowhere is this skill more important than at school. Encourage your preschoolers to stand up for themselves with classmates and negotiate their own solutions. When a child comes to you crying with a playground issue it’s OK to say “What do YOU think should happen?” “How would YOU solve this problem?” or my favorite “I know you can work it out yourself”.
Encourage younger children to advocate for themselves within the classroom as well. Even a first or second grader can ask to be bumped up a reading level. When your children bring home classroom concerns or issues – consider letting them handle it on their own. Obviously there will be occasions, especially at the younger ages, where you will need to intervene. But even complex “adult” issues like bullying should engage the child as much as possible.
It might be time to back off by 7th or 8th grade
By the time your children hit middle school – your children should be the only ones interfacing with their teachers and guidance counselors. Is there a question about scheduling? Resist the temptation to pick up the phone or draft an email. Your 7th or 8th grader should be sending the email; at this age, they need to begin to hone the skills of
- determining WHO the right person is to solve a problem
- figuring out HOW to plead their case
- following up to make sure the issue is RESOLVED
Bottom line: We do our children a grave disservice if we make ourselves available at every turn to pave the way with the outside world. Next time someone asks your child a question bite your tongue and let him answer.
Come to think of it, biting your tongue in general is a pretty awesome life skill. Maybe I’ll start practicing – but not today.
Other Related Posts
- The Top 5 Ways You Make Your Kid’s Teacher CRAZY
- Teaching by Example: Do You ‘Accidentally’ Undermine Your Child’s Authority Figures?
- A Principal’s Nightmare: A Letter from the “Parent From Hell”
- Kids Can’t Learn Coping Skills If They Never Have to Cope With Anything
- Stop Telling Your Kid She’s Special All the Time– You May Screw Her Up Permanently
- Seven Commandments for School Volunteers – Thou Shalt NOT Be a Pain in the Noodle
- What do you think about tenure? How satisfied are you with your child’s education?