Buckle up early for this blog because I’m jumping in head first!
The kids I’ve worked with in my life have looked up to me the same way your kids look up to you. It didn’t matter if it was St. Josephs Children’s Home, as a public school teacher, or my own kids. Being the authority figure and acting like the authority figure are two different things though. For example, a teacher may BE the authority figure the kids are supposed to look up to; but if they don’t ACT like the authority figure, respect over time is lost.
The reason I made this distinctions is because we, as authority figures, have a golden opportunity with our kids. As long as they respect us, they will take our words and actions to be meaningful and trusted. Because of this simple fact, here’s the plan. Let’s encourage kids to achieve heights they never thought they could.
|Kids are looking to us right now for help!|
At St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, we worked a lot on behavior because that was a major factor in getting a child ready to be in a foster home or better yet- adopted. Because kids there looked up to me (along with many other super house parents) I used to praise them to no end for good behavior. The various forms of praise from me were the seeds sown. On the flip side, I didn’t baby them when they behaved poorly. I had a clear goal of where I wanted them behaviorally even if they had lost some hope for ever being adopted. For some children, the goal was achieved but I worked tirelessly for years in order for that dream to be realized by all.
Another example could be found when I was teaching. In the classroom, kids would sometimes tell me they couldn’t read. Those were fighting words in my classroom. I would go out of my way over time to prove to them they COULD read but they needed to practice to get better. Since I was the authority figure, I could sow those seeds within a child and eventually have them reading at a higher level over time.
Don’t get me wrong. Sowing seeds doesn’t always work. But, it’s not my job to know when this tactic will work and when it won’t. It’s my job to command the respect of children so when I sow the seeds, they have a chance of “sprouting.”
Here’s an example of a time your humble blogger apparently failed. This story occurred on a picturesque fall day. My son, Cameron, and I were driving to one of his tennis lessons. I remember pumping him up saying things like “let’s really concentrate today” and “hit the ball like your coach taught you.” I also threw in “you can beat those kids even if they are a little older.” In my own mind, I sounded like General Patton pumping up the troops. In other words, the seeds were clearly sown and greatness was sure to follow. It was at this point that Cameron exclaimed out of the blue, “Look daddy, there’s a bird in that nest!”
For the record, Cameron played fine that day. Regardless, I’m not sure anything I said registered at the time; but that’s not the point. I tried to do what I could to encourage Cameron to play his best tennis.
It’s not only your choice when to sow the seeds; but what seeds are to be sown and how often. Though my tennis example with Cameron may prove it doesn’t always work, I will guarantee there are many times it does. In order to get the best out of kids, they have to have confidence. Though parents sowing seeds is not the entire equation for a child to excel, it’s certainly an important step.
On a final note, any parent who has a child’s respect can also fall victim to sowing negative seeds. If, for example, I told my children they were ugly, dumb, inferior to others, or not very good at something, they would completely believe me. All parents should watch their words very carefully because the consequences are potentially devastating. I once heard long ago, “don’t be the parent who thinks they know how the book ends before the final chapter is even written.” Even if your child isn’t the best at something (and whose child is) it’s still important to make them feel good about themselves and what they are doing.
We want our children to be happy. We want the best for them. Together, let’s sow seeds to give our kids every chance to achieve these things.
My next blog will be this Friday, I have several interesting parenting questions to choose from. If you have a parenting question, it can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care of yourselves and your families and please don’t forget to pass this along to other parents!!!