How to Avoid the Mistake that Holds Your Child Back from Learning
Planet Fitness has a sign on their wall that says “NO JUDGEMENT ZONE”. If you’re a parent like me, I bet you wish you could hang that on your roof.
Being a parent is tough and the pressure and judgment that comes from everyone in the world around us can be all consuming.
That’s why I like to encourage parents to get “in their lane” and stop looking in the lanes on either side of them. The minute a parent starts comparing their life or that of their child's to others, self-doubt, shame, and fear set in.
Researchers call it the social comparison theory. That’s when we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. And let’s face it, we as parents want our children to be at the top of the stack!
One of the first things I tell parents and students when I meet them is this: “I’m a hot mess.” This is true and I honestly believe you have to be in order to be a good parent.
Do you know why? When there is a mess, there is always new work that can be done, and we should all be a work in progress.
Perfection has never been my mojo and never will be. I live by the motto that every day is a new day to become a better version of myself.
I’ve learned over the years that if I lay that proclamation out on the table in our initial meeting, parents and children start to relax and we find a common ground. This creates a space in their mind for truth, vulnerability, and a mutual respect of one another.
That in turn, allows me to do my best work and find the root cause of their family’s struggle which leads to the solution and ultimately stops the struggle.
Change is simple, but not easy.
I get that we parents have enough “hard” in our life. We’re all looking for that big red easy button to push.
So the simple act of reaching out to someone who could change our child’s life for the better can be more daunting than you realize and your mind can trick you into believing all sorts of lies that prevent you from simply making an appointment.
Here are five reasons why taking that first step to is always the hardest:
Where you are now is the devil you know.
Regardless of how many times you watch your child struggle, meltdown, and tell you that they're stupid, you know if you leave where you are now something will cause change.
What that change will be, you don’t know and how it will affect your situation. Uncertainty creeps in and where you currently are, ironically, becomes a place of comfort.
Let's talk about that uncertainty. We're uncertain when we think we can't do or cope; when things threaten to get difficult. Our brains are hardwired to alert us when things are hard, and uneasiness triggers fear.
In reaction, a section in our brain known as the amygdala is responsible for detecting fear and prepares us for emergency events and we seek to avoid that perceived threat.
The upshot is we are so terrified of emotional unease that we oftentimes choose to endure a certain level of suffering rather than move into a space of potential hope.
We know once we move outside of our comfort zone our lives or our children's lives will be disrupted. Like with change, we as parents do not like disruptions. They throw us off our game and send us into a chaotic state.
Ironically though, when we look back, we often find some of life’s biggest disruptions lead us to our best and most memorable detours.
I had no idea that peer pressure lasts into adulthood. I really thought that term was just used by my mom to make sure I did not fall prey to the “bad kids” that did things she wanted me to avoid.
The truth is, it may be worse when you become a parent.
When you seek help, you open the door to the people in your life to ask questions or offer their opinions.
All of a sudden you hear these voices around you telling you what they do, what you should do, and suddenly you find yourself thinking "If only I had more time..." or more everything.
When this happens, you begin measuring yourself and your child against others and their solutions. Peer pressure pushes you out of your lane and you've allowed the comparison theory into your life.
Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment.
When I became a parent, I was shocked to realize that I automatically went into “perfection mode”. That was not my nature and I had never approached anything in my life with that same level of expectation.
I remember the day I realized this and how much freedom I gained when I set a new reality for myself as a mom. My son was three and we found out that he needed glasses. No big deal, right? Well, if you'd been there to experience my reaction in the ophthalmologist's office, you would have thought someone severed his arm.
Why did I have such a strong reaction? Because I was so disappointed in the expectation of “perfect” that I had placed on his life. I felt like all my hopes and dreams were shattered in that instant. YES, I was THAT dramatic.
But guess what? That day was a game changer for me. From that day forward, I was able to zoom-out and zoom-in as a mom and do some good self-checks, adjust my sails, and allow myself and my son, to become better versions of ourselves because perfect was no longer an option.
So how does a parent overcome these obstacles and stop standing in their smart but struggling child’s way? Say this phrase out loud: “This is not about me.”
That’s right: it's a mindset and paradigm shift in the way that we feel. We have to shake off our own feelings, for the betterment of our kid’s emotional well being.
The longer a smart kid works harder, not smarter, the more it chips away at their self-confidence. I can’t tell you how many students tell me that they have been asking for help for years, but their mom or dad kept telling them that they did not need it.
Here are just a few of the comments that kids tell me their parents told them, “ Next year will be better, the teacher this year just doesn’t understand you”; “You just need to work harder, you’ll get it”; “I was never good at reading either, but look at me now, I’m successful. It will all work out”.
These comments are spoken due to one or more of the reasons listed above and, believe it or not, I also think they are said out of love. But, if that means you need to love your kid a little less to create space for vulnerability, uncertainty, but more importantly, change, then do it.
That means you will have to be willing to sit in some uneasy, uncomfortable, and scary emotions long enough to reach out and find the person who can offer a solution and stop the suffering.
I offer a 10-minute, free, no-judgment zone phone consultation that leads to hope. Let me know when you’re ready to talk.