What difference does it make if you like someone?

I was recently speaking to an administrator at a well known private school. We were discussing a student and working on strategies to help the student do well in the school year.  At one point the administrator said, “You’ve had such success working with this student, I would love to pick your brain on things that we can use here at school.”

I thought for a moment and then replied, “Well, what’s something that you like about this student? What is something that you admire about them?” The administrator laughed nervously and said, “Well, what do you mean…?”

I said, “Think about what it is you like about this student.  This student has been in your school for 5 years now. When you like someone, you want to help them, and when you want to help someone, you adapt yourself and you find a way to help them. If you were trying to help your own child, and weren’t successful, you would keep trying to find ways to help them because you care about them, you want to see them succeed.”

I went on to tell the administrator that I use this little piece of advice with myself all the time, and regularly recommend it to parents and other educators.  I mean, it’s pretty basic, how can you not want to help someone you like or admire? Even if you can just find one thing, the simplest thing, that you like about a person, and use that to motivate yourself to help them. If you like someone, you want to help them, plain and simple.  (And if you are like me, you end up loving your students like your own, because kids have so many things that are endearing.)

It can be trying at times, and I won’t pretend otherwise.  I was once at a total loss of how else I could help my student. She just kept telling me, “I don’t get it, I’m sorry, but I don’t get it.” I said, “You know what, I’m glad that you are being honest with me, I’m really glad that you keep trying and aren’t afraid to admit that you still need some more help.” She immediately let out a huge sigh of relief and we both started laughing together.  We gave the problem another go and soon found success.

I use this little tip with my own daughter sometimes. When I find myself remaining angry or feeling angrier than I should over something I stop myself and say to her, “I love how you are listening to me” or “I love that you are my daughter.”  After all, who doesn’t like to be liked? And it’s our human nature to help those we do. 


Welcome back to another school year!

Many students spend their summers at camps, visiting relatives and taking vacations, making “getting back into the grove of things” a little more difficult.  Below is a list of some tops that I’ve complied to help make this transition easier.
1.       Keep the lines of communication open because you want to be the first to know of a situation that is bothering your child. It is important to remind your child that you are there for them. Additionally, take the time to personally introduce yourself to your child’s teacher. Instead of starting off asking the teacher for something, let the teacher know that you are available to speak with at anytime and welcome his or her input. Teachers are often overwhelmed at the beginning of the school year, trying hard to establish their own line of communication with each student.  Let your child’s teacher know if there is a particular way that is best to communicate with your child. For example, “my child is able to listen better when seated at the front of the classroom”, or “my child often needs directions repeated more than once.”  The teacher will appreciate your insight and this will go a lot further in developing your relationship with your child’s teacher than approaching the teacher with something like, “Why did you send so much homework last Thursday?”
2.       Reinforce your child’s ability to cope. Give him/her a few strategies to manage the situation on their own, but also encourage them to tell you if the problem persists or worsens. You can do this in several ways. Ask your child what they believe the best way to deal with the situation is. Tell the child how you would personally deal with the situation. Ask your child what would happen with regards to the situation if they could wave a ‘magic wand’ and have things fixed, and then come up with different ways to achieve the ‘magic wand’ results.
3.       Resist the urge to fix the problem. Yes, there are times when you must step in to fix a problem, but there are also times when your child must solve the problem on her own. This will help her cope with similar issues in middle school and high school. Don’t insist that your child handle the situation your way, let them use some of your advice as well as their own. 
Here’s to a successful and fun filled year of learning and academics!