by Corinne Wnek
I never thought of myself as a calm person. Given my family tree, I am convinced that it is not even genetically possible for me to be calm. Yet, many people who know me would be surprised to hear this because I am not an over-reactor to life’s curve balls. But on the inside? Appearances really are deceiving. Well, that’s for another article on, perhaps, the miracle of modern therapy.
My training as a teacher and counselor helps a great deal in reminding me to think about the power of choice that we all have. Teachers, for instance, want students to take learning seriously. It’s tough to teach these days if you’re not, in part, Lady Gaga or Snoop Dogg. A lot of kids choose to believe that having a seat in class entitles them to entertainment. But it rarely occurs to some of them that they are the ones expected to perform.
School counselors also have to focus on how family issues, such as chronic illness, divorce, substance abuse, learning disabilities, and the general ‘yuckiness’ of being a teenager, effect students in the classroom. In addition, we have to help kids buy into the concept of homework.
How do we get students to understand that school is a mirror of ‘real’ life and they are expected to make choices? That being on time for class is training for being on time for a future job. That meeting deadlines for a teacher gets you used to doing the same for a future boss. That learning to manage conflicts with other students in a school is a dress rehearsal for managing future conflicts with other people.
Kids need to understand that every difficult situation in life offers the chance to make a choice about how to respond. Only then can we realize how powerful we are because we have a say in how the situation will unfold. We can stay angry about something or try to see the other person’s point of view. We can abide by the rules or make excuses about why we do not. We can goof off and fail and hear negative criticism or we can do the work necessary to get good grades and hear the sound of applause.
As the school year draws to a close, ask your child everyday to think about the choices they made this year, from the friends they hung out with to the clothes they wear to the foods they eat. You’ll get an “A” in parenting and your kids will get an “A” in Life Skills 101.
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