By Bev and Phil Haas
Our children are average students working at or slightly above grade level. Recently, though, they’re beginning to feel they’re not good enough. How can we keep their level of confidence high and avoid demoralizing them?
As a teacher and parent, I (Bev) understand and empathize with you. While God wants us to do everything for his glory (Colossians 3:23), he has also created us as unique individuals with unique gifts and abilities.
Be an Advocate for Your Children
You mentioned that your children feel they’re not “good enough.” If this is coming from the attitude or words of a teacher, then they will need your help to put a stop to it. Document what is said and done.
According to a Sun Sentinel article, adult bullying at schools is a rising concern, and Marc Freeman writes, “The school bully you thought you knew now has company. It’s the principal, the teacher, and parents who are making life miserable for others and threatening student achievement.” He cites the pressure from new education laws and continuing stress over the weak economy as reasons adults attack others with words—teasing, name-calling, and intimidation—and even physical violence.
Help Them Develop Good Habits
Many habits, good and bad, are formed or broken while your children are in school. It doesn’t matter whether your child is college bound or not; see that good habits are forming. One habit should involve learning, and it’s not about a grade that’s received. If your children are giving their best effort, can you ask for anything more? Are they curious and looking for answers? I want my children and students to be lifelong learners, not straight-A students. Successful people learn to adapt and play to their strengths; they don’t have to be the smartest. So help them focus more on forming good habits and less on grades.
Recognize Their Gifts
Where do your children excel? I (Bev) am the talented and gifted intervention specialist for our school district, and in education this often focuses on academic intelligence. But as I tell everyone, we are all gifted in different areas. I may be gifted in English and language arts (linguistics), but I’m not gifted spatially. I cannot picture the color from a little speck on an entire wall. And, no, I really did not know that desk wouldn’t fit through the door.
I am not normally an intellectually challenged person, but you can keep telling me to “try harder” and I’m still not going to get it. I’m also never going to score a touchdown, a winning basket, or cross the finish line first. Phil will attest to the fact that I’m not athletically gifted no matter how much I practice. So, do I only participate in activities in which I excel? No, but I do know my strengths and I have to work hard in other areas.
Do the same with your children. Help them discover their gifted areas and encourage them to excel in those areas. There are many organizations and clubs for their participation: drama, rock climbing, student leadership, music, sports, technical, mechanics, and vocational, to name a few. And don’t limit participation to school. Look to the community and church for volunteer opportunities. When children (and adults) look beyond themselves, confidence grows.
Encourage Them to Set Goals and Find Their Passion
Ask your children about their goals. What do they want to accomplish and what are the steps necessary for that to happen? What are they passionate about?
Depending on the age of your children, you may need to adapt your questions, and as you observe your children, your input can be valuable. Maybe your child wants to go to college. If so, there will be certain academic criteria that must be met. If vocational school is a viable option, explore that. We want our children to understand there are so many opportunities and we don’t want to limit their options. The delicate balance is in understanding and accepting one’s limitations.
As a child I (Bev) wanted to make a difference in the lives of other people, so I considered being an astronaut and making discoveries in outer space. There was one small problem . . . I hated studying science and I got motion sickness. I even considered missions, but I’m kind of a girly girl. A better alternative for me? I studied education and now I teach to make a difference in my own mission field and I love it!
Send your questions about family life to Phil and Bev Haas in care of The Lookout, 8805 Governor’s Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249, firstname.lastname@example.org.We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Phil and Bev Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are the parents of two children and they have one grandson.