Realistic Expectations Benefit Your Child
I like to approach my work with students the same way I would tackle a puzzle: I move deliberately and with patience, and I have realistic expectations about how long it will take me to solve it. When I start a puzzle, I know I need time to find the edge pieces and create the border. Then I fill in the middle. I set a goal for when I would like to finish and then move steadily toward that goal. How does this look with students?
I try to determine the foundation of the student’s struggles (the edge pieces to the puzzle) and then fill in the gaps with tools and support.
I encourage parents to do the same. When your student is struggling, it is normal for you to want that struggling to stop as soon as possible. Sometimes, this happens fairly easily; other times a lot of trial and error is needed to find the right pieces to solve their particular puzzle. The process can take time and patience. And often, how you react to their struggles plays a key role in how they will deal with them. Here are some things to keep in mind when your student is facing challenges:
- Keep in mind their age, developmental stage, and grade level. Remember that these may not match with their actual grade or developmental stage… they may be behind or ahead.
- Take a moment to ask if you’re expecting perfection. None of us can deliver on that expectation.
- Know that achievement pressure can have significant negative effects. For example, when we expect only A’s when a child is currently capable of B’s, it affects their confidence and how they view themselves as a student. It is normal to want them to do well, but setting the bar too high can exacerbate their struggles, especially when they have learning differences or disabilities.
- Remember that change will take time, sometimes six months or more. Habits are hard to change and some skills are difficult to learn. Perseverance wins the day.
- As hard as it is to watch, you may need to let your child fail or make mistakes because this is often the best way to learn. Even more importantly, they will learn how to manage failure which is a crucial skill.
- Set SMART goals. These are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.