As the parent of two children, one grown and one in the teen years, I have over 25 years of parenting experience, and lots of scar to show for my efforts. I also have a lot of wisdom to share, based on the mistakes I have made, the lessons I have learned, and the work I have done with hundreds of families over the past 14 years.
I have always tried to be realistic about my children’s strengths and weaknesses. As a parent, I see it as one of my most important jobs to try to help them develop their talents. It is my job to provide them with opportunities to try new things, explore interests, and improve their skills.
Like many parents, I sign them up for lessons, drive them back and forth, buy supplies, pay for classes and activities, and cheer them on as they pursue their interests. More importantly, I try to look at what areas they need to develop: academically, physically, artistically, socially, and emotionally, and I work with them to improve their areas of weakness.
It is my job not to sugar coat things with my children. They need to know what they are good at, and what they need to work on. It does them no good for me to push them in a direction they do not want to go in, or realistically cannot get to.
My son was convinced as a middle school student that he would be a professional soccer player one day. We signed him up for travel soccer, and drove him all over for games and practices. We enrolled him in camps and took him to professional games. We also told him that the likelihood that he would be a professional soccer player was not good. We urged him to also focus on his studies, and we pointed out how hard it was to make it to the pros as a soccer player, and how little money these players made, compared to other professional players. We encouraged him to play and enjoy the game, but to be clear about his top priorities (school and his education).
It turns out that he did not even play soccer in high school! He had a late growth spurt as a teenager, and he was too short to keep up with the taller players later in middle school and high school. A passion he had pursued just a year earlier left him frustrated, and he quit. I see this all the time with students and parents.
What kids are passionate about in elementary school may not continue into middle or high school. Kids get burnt out, or they realize it is no fun anymore. They also may realize that they have gone as far as they can, and the next step is not for them. Parents have to help kids keep sports and other extra curricular activities in perspective.
Unfortunately, not may parents are good at helping their kids keep things in perspective today. Too many parents get caught up in their kids’ activities, and they are living vicariously through their children. This is sad, and it is also destructive to children. A child may hang on to an activity long after they have gotten all they could out of it, because they want to please their parents. It should not have to be this way.
Don’t push your child to be something they are not, and do not set them up to fail. Take their interests, talents and skills into account, especially when looking at private schools. Look for a place where they will be a good fit, and where they will have a chance to succeed. Do not pick a school because someone told you it is “the best”. The goal in picking a private school is not slapping a sticker on the back of your car and bragging about where your child goes to school (this will backfire if the school is not a good fit). The goal is to find a place where your child will be happy, grow and thrive.
Be realistic about who your child is, and what they are capable of. It is the best gift you can give your child.
Anne Yount Boston ISEE Prep 617-553-8083 www.bostoniseeprep.com - Test Prep for the ISEE & Latin School Exam Boston Tutoring Center 617-553-8083 www.bostontutoringcenter.com - Tutoring Grades K-12 Boston Private School Search 617-553-0540 www.bostonprivateschoolsearch.com - Your Resource for Private School Admissions Follow my Blog - http://privateschoolguru.com/blog/