Interesting reports are coming out about John Marsden’s new book The Art of Growing Up. He has divided some parents when it comes to his thoughts on modern parenting and the impact it is having on children. You may agree or disagree with what he has to say but the below 7 steps he explores are significant and certainly worth having a look at.
- Let your kids be bored
I fear this one quite often as a parent and teacher. If they are bored, am I not doing my job properly. No! Let them be bored at home and in class. We can’t possibly entertain them every minute of the day and we are not doing them any favours if we do. They must think for themselves; they must entertain themselves and get themselves out of the boredom. In class, it won’t hurt the student to find another way around the task. Take ownership and do the task in a different way. Talk with the teacher and negotiate. We should guide our children to be solution focused.
- Get them back to nature
Do we really know what they are doing on their laptop and phone? Do we really know what is happening behind closed doors? Fight the good fight and get outside with your kids. Find new experiences. Get messy, get out there and have fun. Sometimes you just being there is all they need.
- Encourage ‘first hand experiences’ over ‘second hand ones’
Find out what they are studying in classes and build on that by going to Art galleries, Theatre, Zoos, Museums or the Court House. Engage in their learning and let them experience it first-hand. This strategy will support their learning in class and will give students an in-depth understanding of the topic.
- Don’t get involved in every detail
Let them fail. How else will they learn? Social media is so prevalent today that students can get themselves into trouble with the click of a button. The way we react to this is how we model how to cope with the issue. If we overreact and want to grab our pitch fork and take action, there and then, are we really setting the right example? Screaming ‘Kill the beast!’ Gaston style in Beauty and the Beast is not helpful. We fall into the Veruca Salt ‘I want it now’ category if we behave that way.
Sit down, discuss the issue, explore possible solutions, be calm and composed. They are looking at us for guidance and leadership and we have that responsibility to show them how to do it correctly.
‘I’m going to ring that school and tell them how it is?’
This not helpful. It’s toxic.
- Don’t shelter them from real life
This is not suggesting you should send your child off to Hogwarts to be barbequed by a dragon or killed by dark wizard with serious nasal issues. However, encouraging children to leave their comfort zone and take some risks is not only helpful, it’s actually encouraged. The ‘stress zone’ and the ‘scared zone’ are actually learning zones. Cut the cord and let them learn through trial and error.
- Encourage wisdom with knowledge.
It takes a long time before you realise it is better to be the tortoise than the hare. Slow and steady does indeed win the race. You can ask a child to read that story over and over again and, on the surface, they would see the value in the moral but to truly understand it, the child needs to experience and explore the message within.
Fake news is prominent in our society and we need to encourage students to turn to multiple exposures to determine if the information is true. In time they will become knowledgeable in the topic, but by encouraging critical thought, exploring other resources and different perspectives, they will become wise.
- Understand when it is your issue, not your child’s
Open lines of communication are crucial in the home. In The Wonder Years, every time Norma asked her husband Jack Arnold how his day was, and his response would invariably be a grunt, followed by:
How was the traffic?
Her happy, energetic grin fell, as her husband refused to engage.
It is hard to get anything detailed out of our children after a day at school, but we need to find out what is happening so we can intervene at the right time. We need to ask the right questions at the right time. We need to ask ourselves is this a teenager hurdle or is this a hurdle where they need my assistance?
Some of these steps may have been appealing and some may have been provocative and disconcerting. You have the ability to disregard the above or take some on board. My only tip is that if you are feeling uncomfortable with some of the steps, read over Step 4 again and follow the directions within.