Encouraging Your Child’s Strengths

What happens if your child isn’t gifted in the academic world? How do you handle it as a parent?

I wrote an essay, “Listen for the Pounding” that is currently in Portland Family magazine that talks about what I’ve learned and needed to be reminded of as a parent when my kids are struggling to learn a new subject or topic.

Kids who are bright in the traditional academic way shine well in school for 12 years.

12 years.

And kids that have different abilities who struggle in school…well…they struggle and struggle. So what can you do as a parent?

With my five kidlets, I have a mixture. And I’ve learned to be upfront with the ones that have a hard time with reading, for instance, that I know it’s difficult and that they’ll have to work at it. When they compare themselves to another sibling, I remind them that sibling X may not be as good as they are at making friends. Sibling Y may not have a natural ability to fix things.

Moms, we need to be patient and find ways to help our kid’s learn the way they learn. Keep asking for help at school and ask other moms. Help them learn to rephrase “I hate math” to “I have to work hard at math” or “Math doesn’t come easily to me.”

Applaud their successes. I don’t care if my kid comes home with a C+ if they worked at it. Don’t compare your kids – we all do it. Set up incremental steps that they will succeed with.

12 years is a long time.

Do you have any tips to share to help other parents’ with struggling students?

3 responses to “Encouraging Your Child’s Strengths”

  1. Tia Bach

    I jumped over and read your article. Loved it!

    I think the key is to treat each child as the individual they are. When you go down the road of comparing them to siblings or friends, you run into distorted expectations and frustrations.

    Have a great holiday weekend.

  2. Carol J. Alexander

    Great thoughts, Jan. Not only do we need to encourage our children in their strengths and discourage them from comparing themselves to each other, we also need to discourage them from putting each other down.

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