Here are a couple of tried-and-true recommendations based on extensive experience –
1 – Mums need to harden up when it comes to working with their children and to stop caving in to the whinge-factor
2 – Mums need to be firmer when speaking to their kids school teachers
A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS FOR YOU: Why is it that when Dads tell their children to do something, the kids more often than not do it without whinging?? Why don’t teachers give Dads the bad news about their child’s learning, and never hesitate to deliver it to Mums?
Could it be that dads are big, hairy and ugly enough not to warrant this type of bad news? Or is it that it’s assumed that dads are in fact clueless as to what goes on in the day-to-day lives of their children.
Mums need to harden up part 1 – Kids
So you’ve heard of the passing comment ‘harden up’, but does it apply to mums? The answer is a big fat YES. Especially when it comes to dealing with their kids. Every parent is their child’s #1 supporter. But being soft on them (the child) when it comes to learning isn’t actually supporting them. Research shows that children whose parents are more involved in their learning are far likely to succeed at school and in life. Now mums are already super involved, right? They quite often are responsible for the day-to-day logistics of school; pickup, drop-off, lunches etc. But when it comes to the hard stuff in kids minds; homework, extra remediation work, daily chores etc. mums are all too quick to give in to the ‘I can’t’ or ‘I don’t want to’ or the infamous ‘whaa whaa whaa’. But, then when dad arrives on the scene all of a sudden the child’s ‘whining’ becomes ‘doing’ far quicker and easier. This is not without resistance of course, but the resistance is far less than what’s dished out to mum. As a Mum are you sitting there nodding and thinking ‘why is this happening to me?’
Well… kids are smart. They have learnt coping strategies that push mum’s buttons – the result of which means that mum invariably gives up on pushing for the task to be done. Thus… the child has won. When this happens over and over, and mums other ‘emotional triggers’ are pushed, it works even better. (I’m talking about the constant reminder to mum by the child that they think they’re dumb or stupid. When your child says ‘I’m dumb’, why would you want to exacerbate their problem by forcing them to continue or complete the task?!) And there lies the crux of the matter. If mum gives in, the child is conditioned to failure. That being, if you don’t want to do it – guess what… you don’t have to. And this is the wrong message!! (We all know this but it’s not as easy in real life I know.)
In life as adults we all have to do things that we don’t want to – definition 1 of life. In life we are also burdened by ailments that we don’t want – definition 2 of life. But you know what? We get on and manage. Why? Well it’s what we were taught as children. Giving up at the first sign of hard work was not an option, you had to get on and manage. So for the children of today, what are we teaching them about hard work? That it doesn’t have to be attempted? That doing things that are fun are the only things that need doing?
Back to the harden up for mums – what is to be done? Well the next time your child pulls the ‘I don’t want to’ card, rather than doing it for them or giving up, the task for both of you is to forge on to victory. Now I can tell you the next thing your child will do is put those walls of resistance up higher (and the tantrum following) than ever before. This is a test!! ‘Will mum break and let me go back to doing whatever I want?’ If you put your foot down and make them do what they don’t want to do this time, then next time the process will be easier. Resistance will not disappear straight away. You now have to condition the new response and create a new habit. This is what dads have done. Except they went the other way around this circle. Rather than letting the kids develop the avoidance strategy with them off the bat, dads have always put their foot down in favour of ‘just do it’. Think of it like this; when your dad told you to do something you would do it, but if mum asked it could be done tomorrow… So when dad asks for something to be done, moaning and groaning still happens, but hey presto the task gets done. Now that type of magic is what you want as mums!!
I can understand that some tasks for some kids are extremely challenging, like reading for dyslexics. That does not mean we just give up on reading! Perhaps a different approach is needed to act as a circuit breaker to the head bashing which is not working now – sometimes a simple change to the task is all it needs while still getting the task done. But that’s just the thing, the task still has to be done.
Mums need to harden up part 2 – Teachers
Well let’s think about this. It seems that dads are the type of people that if told by the class teacher ‘little Johnny is behind in class’ would respond ‘ok, what are you going to do about it then?’ But when mums are told ‘little Johnny is behind in class’ the response is ‘ok thanks for letting me know’ closely followed by ‘do you need me to do something at home’.
Can you see that what I’m describing here? It’s exactly what was happening with your child in harden up lesson 1 – the conditioned response? Mums over time have become the default receivers of bad news. If your child is behind, in trouble all the time or having learning problems, then mums are told (and often blamed) in the hope that they will somehow fix the problem overnight. But this is where it gets problematic. When mums do take action by identify things and reporting them to school they are quick to be dismissed as a helicopter mum. (One of those overzealous mums always poking and prodding.) – A bit of a one way street if you ask me, especially when dad arrives on the scene they pull out all the stops to make him happy.
Personally, I know a mum who struggled through constant reading problems at home and was shocked to see the child’s midyear report depicting a child at age level in all areas. What the heck? When the mum confronted her child about this hypocrisy, she was told that child A copied off their best friend child B. School was quick to dismiss mum saying that this wasn’t possible, even though the report following showed a more accurate picture of what was going on. Now what’s even worse is when mums are is cluey enough to take action at home and start helping their child, school is even quicker to throw the book at them. Pointing out that they (the teachers) are the professionals and mums have their place. (Even though mums do most of the homework – they’re not stupid!) Mums know their children better than anyone, and mums of kids with learning difficulties I guarantee often know much much more about their child’s problem than the common classroom teacher or remediation officer. I know another mum who went to school after their child was struggling in class to speak to the classroom teacher and the remediation officer. Mum pointed out that the child was displaying all the indicators of dyslexia and that there was a family history of it in dads line. (Now here’s where I let you know that mum has spent many hours researching dyslexia and getting help for her child outside school.) BUT – the special ed officer turns around to mum and scoffs ‘Little Johnny couldn’t possibly be dyslexic as he doesn’t reverse his letters.’ (Insert smacking your hand to your head)
Anyone who has done the slightest research into dyslexia knows full well that there is more than just one indicator. It’s like me saying ‘oh, well because you’re not experiencing blurred vision you couldn’t possibly have diabetes’. Absurd right? There’s more than one symptom to every problem!! So what did the mother do?
A- Accept that this special ed teacher as the all-knowing deity in all matters of their child’s education and is right in what they’re saying?
B- Or stand her ground and point out the blatant lack of knowledge the special ed teacher has in the area…
The answer we all want is B, but she went with A. NOOOOOOOO!
Mums need not worry about confrontation when it comes to their kids. The thing that gets me the most is when mums do things at home that are working, classroom teachers dismiss the activities in favour of keeping the remediation ‘in house’. Mums are right to help their struggling children. At the end of the day the classroom teacher changes every 12 months and after that they’re onto the next 25 little munchkins. Mums are with their children for life so it’s only right that they have the ultimate power in deciding what happens with their children’s education and remediation.
So the next time you’re told by a teacher that you’re doing it wrong, think about ‘harden up mum’. And the next time your child pulls the whaa whaa card, give them a shock and pull the ‘harden up mum’ card. Life is tough and not everything we have to do is fun. Your name is Mum and we all know that ‘mum knows best’.
Why mums need to harden up – when it comes to their kids. 08/03/2015 Tom Mullally | Twitter mums need to harden up mums need to harden up mums need to harden up mums need to harden up mums need to harden up mums need to harden up