Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back to school

Next week hundreds and thousands of children will be heading back to school. No doubt their parents will have mixed feelings - glad to have the children back into a routine, but not looking forward to all that homework and the frantic driving from one activity to another.

I had my own taste of learning this week, when I tried to master the behind-the-scenes workings of our website. I've been on a steep learning curve and I don't like being a novice when competency is all important to me. There were times when I felt totally frustrated as I attempted to post something on the site, only to click the wrong button and watch it disappear.

And then there's time when I managed to get something up on the site, only to find when you clicked on it, it sent you to the wrong information! I guess we all have our skill sets and this isn't one of mine. However, I felt a true sense of pride when I did manage to change an icon on the home page - it didn't quite line up straight but hey... I'd figured out by myself how to do it.

All this serves to remind me that the next few weeks are likely to be just as scary, testy and frustrating for our kids as they learn new programs, master new skills and manage new relationships. None of us like to feel stupid and out of our depth, so some empathy and understanding can go a long way to supporting our kids as they grapple with these new situations.

In another life I used to teach a program called Your Child's Self Esteem, based on a book by Dorothy Corkille Briggs. In it she talked about how there are two things a child needs to believe - I am lovable and I am capable. Children rarely question our expectations so if they are too high, we are setting them up to fail and likewise, if they are too low, the outcome is the same.
Check your expectations. Are they realistic for the age and stage your child is at?

As an adult we tend to have high expectations of ourselves too, particularly when we're A types with perfectionist tendencies! This week has been a humbling experience and I am trying not to be too hard on myself. One thing for sure, in another life I am not going to become a webmaster - I'll leave that to others.

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