“Losing” In Order To Truly Win
Aug 11, 2016
The feelings of sadness or disappointment expressed by children throughout their adolescence are powerful educators not only for the children, but for parents as well. Like any stage of a child’s self-discovery, there are actions and reactions that lead them to seek help from parents. Of course you want your children to be happy. (We want them to be too!) True happiness, however, generally needs to root from their own handling of the situation.
Before you jump to the immediate pacifiers that come to mind, either by minimizing their feelings or placating them in an attempt to make them feel better, it’s important that you consider the term we used above: self-discovery. What your child finds out about themselves in this type of situation, without your influence, will provide a beneficial foundation for the way they handle their emotions in the future. This, in turn, will help you to better understand and handle their emotions too.
Putting Yourself In Their Shoes
In terms of expressing emotions, adults and children aren’t all that different. When it comes down to it, everybody just wants to be heard. At times, the events that cause a child to be sad, disappointed, or angry aren’t as detrimental to the child’s personal growth as a parent or mentor downplaying those emotions to ease the situation. “Easing the situation” generally only benefits the parent, and this type of temporary fix doesn’t help the development of the child. On the flip side of that, parents tend to dismiss their child’s emotions as overreactions. This comes across, to the child, as if their parents don’t have time for them and/or don’t care about them.
Home Run Parenting
Notice the one thing missing from both of these methods? The ability, and willingness, to actually listen. Here’s an example: 10-year-old Joey makes his baseball team, but isn’t a starter and thinks he deserves to play more. His first outlet is, of course, to direct his complaints to his parents.
His mother, trying to make him feel better, tells him that baseball isn’t even his best sport and that it’ll be his time to shine during soccer season. When he turns to his father for a different response, his dad tells him that he’s overreacting and that he’ll play more next season when he’s a year older. Though these may seem like reasonable responses for an adult, they don’t account for the emotional landslide that Joey deals with while sitting on the bench.
When parents listen, however, true self-discovery takes place. If Joey’s parents were to sit down with him and have him talk through the entire situation revolving around his complaints, he would likely come to realize and appreciate their suggestions without them even saying anything along those lines. Instead of the “there’s always next year” connotation, his parents should ask things like “Well, why is so-and-so in that position?” or “Are you happy when the team wins?” Joey could then rationalize with guidance, not feel obligated to heed whatever his parents are pacifying the situation with. All of a sudden Joey actually realizes what it means to be one of the younger players on a good team. Mutual growth takes place, as Joey understands his place on the team and his parents know how to talk through situations with their son.
Parents have a tough time dealing with their own emotions, let alone being responsible for their child’s as well. This dual responsibility, along with the stresses of adult life, can be a burden for many parents that generally leads to the type of pacifying responses we outlined above. It’s important to realize that the stress of a child’s life are equal to the stresses of adult life.
It’s all a matter of relativity. Naturally you feel that the prospect of losing a job is much more stressful than your child’s bad test grade, but the scale is even when you consider that they are both major setbacks for personal growth. The future feels just as jeopardized. A bad day at work is the same as a bad day at school. When you start to realize the equal weight of these experiences, you can truly start to listen and help your children grow.
At World Academy, we are constantly striving to develop the ‘whole’ child through this sense of emotional growth. Our students’ happiness is just as important to us as it is to parents, which is why we stay up on current research and work towards taking the best approach to handling our students’ feelings. We understand and approach things from the perspective that, when a child “loses” at something, there is a critical opportunity for everyone to truly “win”.