san diego parenting teacher and coach

  • Do your children throw temper tantrums?
  • Do you feel that your parenting challenges have had an adverse affect on your marriage?
  • Has your family gone through a major life change, such as a divorce, a new marriage, a new baby, relocation, military deployment or a death?
  • Do you have difficulty setting and enforcing boundaries?
  • Do you need ideas on how to effectively discipline your children?
  • Is your child having difficulty in school?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, Leadership Parenting can help you.

What About Me?

Being in an occupation where I am with children all day has to be one of the best jobs around. I get to teach children and watch them as they learn and grow.  I am witness to their interactions with others as they work through the trials and tribulations of a day at school.  I get to hear all the funny things that they say (I could write a best-seller!) and laugh a lot.

One thing that I have been hearing a lot lately however, isn’t so funny.  An increasing number of children are seeking reassurances about every little detail, and not just once or twice, but throughout the day.  From writing their name correctly, to answering a problem, where children used complete their work then hand it in, they are now asking for my approval as they complete each step.  They are afraid to make a mistake and need to be reassured that they are doing everything right before they can move on.   Research has shown that children spend far less time on their own, creating their own games, playing imaginative games, being free to think for themselves.  Instead children are participating in more adult driven activities and are being told what to do instead of having to figure it out for themselves. Children are quickly losing the sense that they can do for themselves because everything is being done for them.

Along the same vein, I find that I can no longer pay a child a compliment without all the other children chiming in, “What about me?  Is my project beautiful? Am I doing a good job?”. Children have become so used to be praised for every little thing that they do, that it has become expected.  We were doing a craft, making a polar bear with clay.  One child held up their clay that had been rolled out into a long and skinny shape.  “How does mine look?”  My response?  “It looks like a snake.”  About half of the class told me that what I said wasn’t very nice, that it might hurt the child’s feelings.  My response? “But it does look like a snake.  What do you want me to say?  Oh my!  That is the most beautiful polar bear I have ever seen! We need to put it up on a shelf and shine a spotlight on it!!!!”  They got the point and we all had a chuckle, but their initial response was that I didn’t praise, so I was in the wrong.

What to do?  Well, I can’t change every interaction that the child is going to have, but I can try to teach them that they don’t have to be perfect, that we learn from our mistakes, that they need to be confident in their ability and they do not need someone to tell them that they are doing every little thing right.   I teach them that if everyone received the same compliment, then the compliment ends up having no meaning.  I praise each day, but for something that is meaningful to the child.  I try to teach humility, a tough battle in the current world of Generation Me.

It’s Okay to be Average

We use averages all the time; average salary, average home price, average level of education, etc., to determine where we fall in terms of well, the average person or amenity.  We use the word to describe normal, as in “Just an average day at the office”, or “The restaurant was nothing spectacular, just average I would say”.  But when it comes to their children, many parents look at the idea of “average” as akin to abhorrent.  Their child cannot be anything but stellar, amazing, tops at everything and anything they do.

Many children are told from a very young age (birth!) that they are special, gifted, so smart, talented, the best, for simply doing things that children do.  Like drawing a picture, eating their vegetables, saying a new word, getting a participation trophy….As children are praised for doing every day things, they begin to believe in their own elevated self-importance.  They begin to believe that they are the best at everything, that they are talented beyond belief, that they succeed in everything they do.  Parents are setting their children up so high on that pedestal, that it is inevitable that they are going to fall off and get hurt on the way down.

These children do not learn how to cope with disappointment.  They do not learn how to be humble. They do not learn how to lose gracefully.  But they do learn how to place blame…and it is not on themselves.  If they are so smart, so talented, so great at what they are doing, as they have so often been told by their parents, then it certainly could not be their fault that that they have failed to be number one.  And their parents are quick to reinforce this belief.  Teachers are often blamed for a student’s bad behavior, lack of effort or bad grades.  Coaches are taken to task for telling a player that they have to room to improve or for not playing a child where the parent believes their skill level should put them.  Bosses are called out by parents who’s children have lost their jobs due to poor performance.

Parents need to realize that not every child is Einstein or destined to be in the Hall of Fame.  It’s okay to be normal, average, good.  And it is okay for kids to know that they are.  Give them the time and the support to find what they will truly excel at.