Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wanted: Wisdom

A couple of months ago I was really struggling with my school-age child. We were butting heads constantly. I was so frustrated with her “attitude” and wanted to nip it Right then and There. Unfortunately, that translated into constant criticism, which didn’t get me the results I wanted PLUS made both of us feel terrible about ourselves all the time.

I backed off and decided to pick my battles with a little more wisdom. It turns out parenting is a process and so is her developing personality. While I can’t let her rule the family with her bossiness, I can’t be constantly reprimanding her either. I’ve changed my strategy and currently things are a bit better. I won’t elaborate on “my strategy” unless you ask me to, because I’m not really here to dole out parenting advice.

I’m here because I’m looking for some.

Next up on The Challenges of Parenting a School-Age Child Experience: How to Handle Struggles at School. This episode – Reading.

My oldest is brilliant in many ways. She has fabulous ideas, she’s great with numbers, and she’s a Creator. But she’s been slow to become a fluent reader. At this point neither her teacher nor I think she’s dealing with a disability. We may find otherwise down the road, but so far we just think it’s taking her a little longer than many of her peers.

I’m not freaking out about this. But I am trying to address the situation appropriately, and I want to help her. She’s frustrated about it and knows she is kind-of behind. Yesterday we got her report card and sat down to look at it together. Those of you who have walked this road know that children can take this sort of thing really personally. I did not realize this. I focused in on the great parts of her report card, and there are many. But her attention went straight to the weaknesses. I read her what the teacher said in the Comments, which included that “she is improving” but needs to “practice more to increase her fluency” and that she could also work on her writing skills. I read the positive comments too and looked over and she was crying. L It made me sad. O, oldest perfectionist daughter! O, sweet first grader who wants to please her teacher... and her parents! Please don’t cry.

So I tried to comfort her and we talked a little and it wasn’t the end of the world. But the planner in me has a hard time not laying it all out:

“Ok, Sophie, we need to work on this. So after you get done with your homework every night, and then piano practice, we need to spend 45 minutes, at least, reading. We’ll go thru this checklist that your teacher suggests and….”

No. I didn’t say that. But it was hard not to. I don’t want her to be thinking about what a drag this is that she has to read more. I want her to be motivated and willing. I don’t want to be crabby about it, and I’m determined not to.

So what is your advice for approaching this with her? I’m thinking she might enjoy a chart. She is an oldest type A, after all. I have some ideas for rewards… I just don’t know. I want to know what not to say, and what I could say that would be helpful. And I think largely, I need to pray that I don’t destroy any confidence that she does have. And that I can help to build her up. Any of your suggestions are welcome.

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