A new school year. Will it be great? Are you looking forward to the challenges? If you are a parent or a teacher I’m jealous. I miss having children around every day. Their absence compromises my education. But maybe you aren’t feeling that way.
Do they test your authority too much? or ask too many questions? or keep getting into conflict? or keep making mistakes? or keep under-achieving? Being awash in children can be challenging.
Sometimes it helps to reframe the challenge. Maybe they are doing their job (learning how to make something of themselves in the world), and you need to let them help you with your job (the challenge of make something of yourself in the world). These five reminders might help:
1. Challenging authority? —Play position. Their job is to become an authority and testing the environment is a good method. Challenging authority and testing boundaries is their job, Your job is to be there, pushing back when necessary.
2. Asking too many questions? —Their job is questioning; yours is answering (…sometimes with a question of your own.)
3. Getting into conflict?—Good. They need those learning opportunities. (We might have an opportunity to help make it a learning experience rather than a disaster….or not)
4. Making mistakes? They don’t have a problem with this, why do you? Mistakes are learning opportunities. Their job is to create, and they know it’s the number of trials not the number of errors that matters. Your job is to believe in them, sometimes delivering feedback that is hearable, seeable and doable.
5. Achievement is too low? —Loving the challenge of learning IS the achievement. (“Achievement” is a by-product and often a function of many factors other than ability–factors like teamwork, courage, patience, persistence and luck.)
Life provides us all with the same fundamental challenge: the challenge of learning the art of allowing ourselves to be changed. As Carol Dweck keeps reminding us, success depends on maintaining a growth mindset. Adults can help by counteracting our brains’ natural affinity for fixed mindsets. Being open to be changed ourselves, can make us love the experience more.