“I don’t want to do that assignment.”
“I don’t want to work with that person.”
“I don’t want to present this to the class.”
“But I don’t know how. My legs don’t work.” The personal favorite of our soon to be four-year old.
If you’re a parent, teacher, or administrator you have no doubt heard these excuses before. One of the problems facing the educational world today is the lack of accountability and responsibility our young people have. Too often we as parents, teachers, and administrators are more worried about protecting feelings rather than doing what’s best for the students. This week we’re going to tackle this tough issue and offer possible solutions to it.
In order to eliminate this problem, we must recognize that all parties have an important role. It’s like a car engine, the whole can’t function without the part. So, we as parents must accept the responsibility we have in our child’s education. It is our duty to teach responsibility, commitment, and follow-through to our children at a young age. We need to teach our kids to have a growth mindset, which means it’s okay to fail. Too often we put in kids in bubble wrap to protect them from the feelings associated with failure. Once kids realize failure is okay and it’s the only way to grow, they will begin to reach new heights. When our child complains about an assignment, grade, or not wanting to do something; don’t run up to or call school immediately. Help your child to understand the problem and how best to solve it. We as parents need to reinforce the values the school is trying to teach; not question every move an educator makes.
“Once there was this kid who”…finish the lyric. (Sorry couldn’t help myself, Crash Test Dummies started playing in my head as I typed this:) But seriously, there was a boy who had to get up in front of his peers (the whole school) and introduce the school play. He was terrified. He got up in front of everyone and froze. He ran off the stage in shame. His teacher asked if he knew his lines. He did. “Then go back out there and say them,” the teacher said. “I don’t want to,” said the boy. “Get back out there and do your job,” said the teacher. Reluctantly, the boy got back out there and said his lines. He wasn’t good but each and every time after, he got better. Eventually, he came to realize he loved speaking and turned it into a career. This is a true story. The boy became renowned motivational speaker, Les Brown.
I faced these same issues as a student, as I am sure many of you did. I had to take a speech class in high school where we had to pantomime, deliver five-minute speeches, and do a group lip-sync dance. It was terrifying. But I did it, and gradually became a better speaker. Now as teacher and coach I have to speak in front of others all the time. One of the best things my dad ever did was force me to go out and get a job on my own. I didn’t want to. I asked him to find one for me, he said no. So I had to do it myself. These small events have helped me become the self-reliant man I am today.
The thing I began to realize through these experiences is that the more you do something, the easier it becomes. We’re not doing our children any favors by allowing them to get out of doing something because it gives them anxiety. Now, I realize anxiety is a serious issue for many, and I’m not trying to minimize it at all. However, our kids are never going to amount to anything if we never challenge them to face their fears. We’re not doing them any favors if we allow them to run from what makes them uncomfortable. We must teach them to thrive on being uncomfortable. If not, we may be saving their feelings but we’re not setting them up for success.
The problem with our society today is far too many people aren’t willing to tell others “NO.” This is especially true in education. It’s imperative that we teach our kids to face their fears. It is the only way they will ever reach their full potential.
What are your thoughts on this topic? I’d love to hear them.
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your group, team, or organization. Please contact him for details.