If I had to name two areas that cause the most issues for our students, it would be self-regulation (controlling emotions and behaviors) and fear. Fears drive much of what they do and self-regulation is shown to impact academic success more than IQ.
Self-Regulation. Our children’s well-being is tied to our well-being as parents. Kids see how we handle stress, adversity and relationships with others. They know when you are stressed, angry, scared, etc. How well you manage your emotions and reactions helps kids manage their own emotions. Even when we try to fake it, they can see it. For instance, there is a middle school student who has a lot of stress and anxiety about failing. This student says the thing she fears most is seeing a certain look of disappointment on her parents’ face. The student says she’s “seen it before and never wants to see it again.” I’m sure the parents have no idea, but it highlights how we can impact our kids in significant ways with just subtle reactions.
Fear. Kids worry about fitting in, failure, rejection, disappointing others, not being good enough, etc. We also have fears as parents. We worry about their safety, self-esteem, social development, academics, health, happiness, etc. The thing I tell students to remember is that fear is always in the future. Once something happens we no longer fear, we react.
Fear also steals our ability to be present. How much time is wasted and opportunities missed because we’re concerned about something that hasn’t happened? How many things have our kids tried to tell us that we did not hear? How many questions have they had to repeat, because we weren’t there mentally? When asked to repeat themselves, how many times have they said, “nevermind.”
The point is that it is not just about the kids. It all starts with us. We set the tone for the home, the drive to school, at dinner, and myriad expectations. It is an inextricably symbiotic relationship.
It’s a great time to reflect and ask ourselves questions like:
– Could I be doing something that contributes to _____________.
Something to think about.