I coach a couple who questioned if perhaps, they were expecting too much from their 7th grade son.
In the summer following 5th grade their son wanted a cell phone. With promises and hope they agreed that he would earn a phone when he mastered keeping his grades above a specified level and going to bed and getting up on time without being prompted.
More than a year later, and still not meeting the requirements, their son was angry and frustrated. He accused his parents of treating him unfairly and not getting it. He claimed he’s the only one who doesn’t have a phone. And he asserted that he misses out, is left out and sticks out!
This outcry triggered his parents to question the emotional and social fallout. They wanted to do the right thing, but what it was wasn’t clear. They fretted over the only options they saw: give in and get him a phone or dive deeper and insist that he meet the expectations.
That’s when they contacted me. After some discussion we crafted a plan.
They reassured their son that the three of them still share the same goal of him getting a phone. They reminded him that they believe in him and understand that he feels left out. They asked him to articulate ideas of what he could do differently to improve his grades and master his end of day and morning tasks. And they encouraged him to ask for help and promised to support him in every way possible.
By handing the problem-solving steps to their son and being emotionally sensitive, their son devised strategies that he made work. His parents’ approach was the boost he needed to re-engage and shift his focus to action and away from anger.
Next up on his parents’ agenda is collaborating with their son on phone use and responsibility.
School’s starting, and the contrast between summer’s casualness and school’s structure is palpable. Your child and you are not strangers to this overnight dichotomy. This makes now prime time for chatting about how the school year will play out.
Consider setting targets. When we watch Katniss Everdeen shoot, she knows exactly where each arrow will hit. While our lives are not on the survival scale of hers, we appreciate the value of having a specific target. I urge you to collaborate* with your child to establish earning a specific grade for each class. Your child can achieve the agreed upon goals such as that 98 in Math – the favorite subject, 92 in Language Arts – the most challenging, and on down the list. Defining a target makes hitting it more likely. And, it maximizes your child’s achieving, learning and working potential.
Consider setting homework time. The purpose is for your child to solely focus on learning and mastery without interruptions or distractions. Having a set time to convert fractions into decimals, practice scales on the French horn, or work on projects is beneficial. In addition to acquiring knowledge and skills, it fosters time management, organization, and study skills. Combined, these contribute to bringing the targeted grades (above) to fruition. I encourage the two of you to set specific homework time while you’re collaborating on grade targets.
Consider the future. For all that is learned and experienced from working hard, children grow to be reliable, responsible, and self-starters. This vigor converts to outstanding lifelong habits and practices. The other bright side is that, in the doing, children, your child acquires confidence, competence, and autonomy. This is all because of your influence and inspiration!
Here’s to the best year yet!
*Click here for a collaboration visual.