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Is your child different? How to cope
Sonal D'Silva |
May 30, 2006
Besides wanting kids to score in school, parents today also expect their children to excel in extra-curricular activities.
In our earlier article, we covered the adverse effects of an ALL work, NO play lifestyle.
But what if your child is faring badly at school? Alternately, what if your child is faring too well? Yes, such a scenario also deserves special attention.
What if your child is very shy?
Every child is different and reacts differently. Here is what the experts say.
My child is performing poorly in school
What do you do when your child performs badly at a task, especially in the classroom?
According to counselling psychologist Kirti Bakshi, you must refrain from saying 'I told you so'. Shouting at your child is not the answer either. Instead, examine the reasons why your child did badly.
Tip: Kanga outlines what you can do:
~ Realise the child is learning tasks. It is perfectly normal for him or her to not succeed at all tasks, especially within a time period set by you, the child's parents.
~ Keep in mind that each child grows and develops at his or her own rate, displaying developmental landmarks at different times.
~ Encourage your child to show or describe the task learning situation. Maybe there were certain factors that were not taken into consideration. For instance, the child sitting next to him distracted him by throwing away his gluestick in the bin. Or your child was not listening to instructions.
Mumbai-based psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria offers the following suggestions:
~ Accept the fact that the child has not performed well and examine why -- is he capable of performing the task or not? If he is capable of performing the task, then where does the problem lie?
~ Understand the problem; then help by correcting the factors that are coming in the way.
~ Use concrete suggestions: for example, don't say 'Why did you write such a short answers?' Instead, say 'If you write this answer in four more sentences, it would be more complete'.
Or, if your child is having trouble understanding a maths concept, then be active in helping find a solution. Give him sums to practise and help him understand. Be patient.
~ If the problem refuses to go away, do not put the child down. Instead, realise you may need professional help.
My child is very bright
This might sound like the ideal situation -- your child is far brighter than everyone else his age.
However, this comes with its own set of frustrations when the child is forced to lag behind at the level of others, often leading to boredom and the inability to remain interested in the task.
Tip: Dr Chhabria advises you to give such a child a challenge that he can and would like to work on. Teachers can even make such children help other kids in the class. The bottom-line: keep them occupied.
My child is very shy
It is tempting to push shy children into social settings hoping their shyness will magically disappear. This may not be the best approach.
Tip: Anjali Savoor Bulla, who teaches at a Montessori school, suggests an effective approach:
~ Some kids are so shy that they won't respond at all. Don't be pushy with them.
~ Try and involve them in group activities gradually. First, talk to them and make sure that they feel comfortable.
~ In a classroom, there are often one or two kids that shy children are more comfortable with than others. Try and get them to interact more. Once they adjust to this, slowly integrate them into the larger group.
~ Never push these kids too hard. Allow them to open up at their own speed.
Encouragement is the key
A positive, heartfelt word of encouragement can work wonders for a child's self esteem, no matter what the problem.
Tip: Kanga outlines some steps:
~ Encourage children to ask questions.
~ Introduce new vocabulary words during routine conversation and book reading.
~ Children love 'pretend play'. Thus, foster an environment where your child can freely use his creativity and imagination.
~ Encourage your child to talk about what happened at pre-school. "What did you do? Who did you play with?"
~ Give them opportunities to work independently and in small groups. For instance, let siblings work at building blocks together.
~ Encourage children to talk about their feelings. This will promote closeness and create a stronger bond with them.
~ Allow kids to think for themselves.
Savoor Bulla says, "If parents nag their kids or control all their actions, kids don't learn to think for themselves. Encourage independence in kids. We find that independence at home reflects in the school environment as well."
Making sure your child gets the best tools to equip himself/ herself for the real world involves more than sending him to the best school and best classes.
~ According to Kanga, discuss ways with teachers, school counsellors and other educational professionals to learn more about your children and understand them better.
~ Pre-schoolers need to learn how to make choices for themselves and feel good about the choices they make. Thus, assign simple tasks such as putting back the toys they were playing with.
~ You can make mistakes too being a parent. Learn to follow your own intuition when it comes to handling your child's performance. Love and accept yourself the way you are and see the same reflected in how you bring up your child.
~ Dr Chhabria explains, "Our children are not robots. They have feelings and emotions and are not going to be perfect. Every parent should remember this and accept them as they are. Give them lots of unconditional love. That would help them to bloom and do the best that they can."
Savoor Bulla sums it up well when she states, "Let them be kids when they are kids. Encourage them and help them feel good about themselves. They will push themselves ahead in life as they grow."
Part I: The perils of ALL work, NO play
Are you a parent or an expert? Write in with your tips and suggestions.