Parent as Detective: How Examining the Evidence Will Help Your Child

by Melissa on September 13, 2010

The emails and phone calls I received from clients and friends after last week’s post  inspired me.

Many of you were worried about the fact that sometimes children over-associate with them, and assume their challenges are the same as the ones they see their parents struggle with.

Throughout my years of teaching, I’ve begun to do parent inventories at the beginning of the year to analyze how their perceived strengths and weaknesses match up with their children’s. There’s a striking correlation between them. Parents that love to read often have children that devour books. Ones who struggle with Math often send me their children who tense up when the Math block is approaching.

Your worries that your children seem to assume their challenges are the same as yours are so completely valid.

It reinforces my thoughts of how extremely aware and reflective our readers are in regards to how much their interactions influence their kiddos.

I think the trick is to be very strategic. The strategy I use when I have these conversations is to share the weaknesses that I know are strengths with the children I work with. Notice what your child is really good at, that you might not be.

For example, I’ve really been working with organizational skills at work and home over the past couple of years. I had a client whose child was extremely organized, but was having trouble academically because of the demand to use academic language that really bumps up between 3rd and 4th grade.

The child was very organized, and it was an area that she felt a lot of pride in.

I would not have revealed my struggle with that if she was someone that also struggled in that area.

Because I noticed, the child took pride in making sure I always put my keys in the “special spot.” I complimented her constantly on how neat her desk was, and also took it to the next level where I let her know how important her strengths were in other areas (ideas for writing, understanding math algorithms, etc.)

And we talked about professions that would be really enjoyable that she might enjoy (professional decorator, accountant, etc). THEN, when I saw she was feeling pride in the areas that she was naturally successful in, we were able to talk about how the skills we were working on would help her for the rest of her life, as well.

Using academic language is very important in regards to the experience she was about to have (moving from 3rd to 4th grade), but she was also a child that got excited about the future possibilities that capitalized on areas she naturally excelled at and enjoyed.

When she was more comfortable with the concept of academic language, and had more practice using it, we had another talk about how she achieved something that would eventually open even more doors for her.

I explained that now that she had mastered the languaging, she would be able to have her own business because she knows how to interact with people by using their “code language.” The pride she took in these conversations, and the way they motivated her would just take your breath away.

This year, she isn’t eligible for the extra help her school is offering students that are performing below grade level.

I believe that the reason is that she understood the specific things that were holding her back, and she’s come out shining because she was able to work through them in a way that her strengths were celebrated and she had specific goals that her mother and I worked together to help her to reach.

Sharing our kid’s strengths with them is one of the most exciting things we can do.

I really want to take this time to stress that the “Magic 3″ is something we should also be sharing with our kids.

Mel Levine states that, “When people learn about their own gaps, they frequently show, or actually report, a sense of relief, because for the first time in their lives they are able to understand exactly why they’ve been struggling to meet certain demands and how they can go about bypassing these challenges. They can forgive themselves and work towards becoming stronger people.”

When we label kids, they feel stuck sometimes. When we give them the “Magic 3, ″ they’re able to work towards small goals that we can celebrate with them.

Our kiddos will be so much more willing and confident if they have a firm grasp on their strengths, and if we scaffold to help them meet them.

Melissa Lubaszka is the founder of Tandem Teaching and teaches in the inner-city. She blogs weekly about tips parents can implement to enhance their connection with their children and ways to bring out their children’s inherent gifts. Contact her for a private consulting session.