By GreatSchools Staff
Child's Age: 12
Child's School Level: Middle
Area(s) child struggles: Math, Self-esteem, Writing
My son had a teacher in middle school who suggested that he choose a profession that did not require a college education because in their opinion he would not be successful.
First, we had a discussion with our son. We discussed how the teacher's comment made him feel, if he agreed or disagreed with the comment, and what did he believe about whether he could be successful or not in college. We then talked about what steps would need to be taken to help him reach his goal of going to college.
We scheduled a meeting with the teacher to discuss what we had talked about as a family and voiced our differing opinion. We also tried to instill in our son that individuals are going to have different opinions about what they believe you are capable of, but you need to balance that with your understanding of what your strengths and weaknesses are (we all have them), determine what you are willing to do, and set goals and realistic expectations.
At first he was reluctant and angry because he felt very misunderstood and felt that no matter what he did (try hard or not) the outcome was not much different. I believe that when a child is not affirmed when they are successful, they will begin to believe messages about themselves that are external in nature whether they were spoken with the best or worst of intentions. For us it was more important that he understood who he was, what he was capable of, what he wanted to do and then going for it and letting him know that we supported him as well as many others. Don't spend all your energy on who or what seems to be the biggest obstacle - put it in perspective. It was helping him to come to a better understanding and awareness of himself so that he could begin to make informed decisions for his education and life. He has responded well.
That words either spoken with the best of intentions or worst of intentions are very powerful, so be very thoughtful about the words you are choosing before speaking.
In general, through the whole process, I wish we would have acted sooner.
Allow your child to be a part of the decision-making process. We found that the more discussions that we appropriately involved our son in that affected his life day to day, the more willing he was to offer suggestions and ideas to the process, as well as learning that we all need to compromise and make concessions at various times in life, not just in school.
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