Every parent’s goal is for their children to be happy and successful. This is the whole reason we try to understand their social, emotional and learning needs and advocate so fiercely that those needs get met.
The truth is, with all of this information on brain functioning and ways to improve “outcomes,” our children are under a lot more pressure to perform than they were a decade ago.
This access to assessment, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment is a doubled edged sword. I often wonder, do all weaknesses need to be remediated? Do all differences need to be treated?
Ultimately, this is a big question only individual families can answer.
The Brain and Success
Kids need to feel successful to become successful as an adult.
The brain is complex, but one thing we know is that if you can’t think something, it can’t happen. Or put another way, what you think will manifest into some sort of reality down the line.
For example, my son is a baseball player and he obviously wants to hit the ball hard. We talk a lot about thinking about hitting the ball rather than thinking about striking out. If you think “hit” you will hit. If you think “strike out” you strike out. You can never think “strike out” and get a hit. The brain can’t act on a hidden thought.
The same holds true for feeling good about one’s self and accomplishments. If a child feels constantly evaluated for being “different” and in need of remediation and fixing, what outcome can we expect for them years down the line?
Of course, we want to support our children to become healthier and more accomplished learners. And those kids who do get extra help, work extra hard. They go to school all day, probably do extra work there, then come home and engage in additional support/therapies, etc to improve even more.
All of this work isn’t necessarily bad or good. Many children gain great benefit from all of this extra effort.
But beyond all of this work is a bigger piece. OUr children need to feel the work is a step toward their success. They need to feel these are steps toward accomplishment. Otherwise, why work so hard?
With that in mind, the one thing they all children who work so hard need to hear from their parents (and other important adults in their life) are these five words:
“I am proud of you.”
Express to your child:
“I am proud of you for all the hard work you do.”
“I am proud of you for persisting when things are hard.”
“I am proud of you for telling the adults in your life when you need help. That is brave and courageous.”
“I am proud of you for facing your fears and doing it anyway.”
“I am proud of you for trying to make new friends,even when it feel so scary.”
“I am proud of you for being you and you never need to prove your worth to me.”
Those words, more than any extra help, tutoring or therapy, will help your child become a success today and in the future. Make sure you mean it and make sure you are praising their real, true hard work. Those five words will keep them going in the face of any difficulties they may face and will ultimately allow them to think they will accomplish great things in the future.