By Karen Swift Murdoch
Is your child struggling at school? Do you sometimes feel like you’re the only parent going through this? It’s also possible your child feels that they’re the only one having a tough time. I often hear from children that they are the “worst” in their class even though this usually isn’t true. As a parent, how do those kind of comments make you feel?
I’ve heard from several mothers lately, through tears, that they feel they are a “bad Mom”. Do you feel this way? Are you afraid that you’re “ruining” your child? When I hear parents say this it breaks my heart. The fact that you’re asking this question means you’re a sane adult who is imperfect but doing your best.
There is no shame in having a child who struggles at school. When I teach adults, I always hear from someone, “I don’t learn this way.” Our children can’t tell us this, but it’s true for them, too. All of us need reading, writing and math in order to function in society. Math and language arts are not rocket science. Maybe some children can’t learn the way the school system teaches. We just need to find the best way to present the information so our child can take it in. Maybe they need to learn a little more slowly.
We need to accept every child as a unique individual. They are not bad at everything. Most children don’t know what their weaknesses are. These children have them shoved in their faces every day. We accept of ourselves that we are slow at certain things and quick at other things, at grasping certain concepts. For some reason, we expect all kids to learn at the same pace at school.
How do you determine your child’s unique style? You know them. You know what they’re good at. You know why you’re proud of them. School focuses on only one area of life. Maybe your child is good at some other area of that shows up outside the school system. Can you find a way to use what they’re good at to help them learn what they’re struggling with? If not, can you get help to do that? This is where the solution lies.
If your child has issues, do you keep it secret because you’re embarrassed? We all like to “look good” in society. Do you find yourself saying, “Why me? Why my child? How come they can’t just behave? Why can’t they just ‘fit in’? Why don’t they do better?” This feeling can be a terrible burden.
Remember, you are not alone. It is okay to get the support necessary for yourself and your child. Let’s start talking about these things. Let’s treat them like any other differences. After all, some children are musical and some are not. Some children are athletic and some are not. Some children are practical and some are not. Some children are highly social and some are not. Some children are good at language arts and some are not. Some children are naturally good at math and some are not. Let’s focus on supporting children in what they do well and helping them learn school stuff using their own unique style.
You are a good enough parent. You can succeed with your child. You are not alone. There are many of you carrying this secret pain. Let’s start by talking. I’ve been hearing parents’ sorrows for years. I’d love to hear some of your concerns.
Karen Swift Murdoch is a parenting coach and therapeutic tutor, with 25 years of experience coaching parents of children of all ages and tutoring children who really struggle at school.