I know how much you absolutely love your child. How you want them to have a good life. How you want to protect them. How you want them to be happy. But, being a teacher who interacts with both children and parents on a daily basis, I need to tell you a few things.
Please, stop saving your child. Saving them from making a mistake. Saving them from every tough situation with a friend or peer. Saving them from consequences.
Schools were designed to teach academics, but even more so, I make it my first priority to teach life skills. To teach my class how to be kind. How to make friends. How to be responsible. How to stand up for themselves. How to accept the consequences of their actions. How to apologize for the wrong they have done. How to ask for what they need. How to handle the situations life will always throw at them.
And when you save them from all of this, they don’t get to learn any of it.
Just think about it, right now your child has the opportunity to learn so many of life’s lessons inside a building where there are adults everywhere, all there for the sole purpose of loving on your child and helping them grow into a kind, independent, able human. Right now is the perfect time to let your child fail. To let them struggle with a friend. To let them forget their homework. To let them go alone on a field trip. To let them miss recess as a consequence for being unkind. Because right now, when they mess up or struggle, they are doing it surrounded by teachers all ready to help them figure it out.
Twenty years from now, if they haven’t had the chance to learn these lessons, the repercussions are far worse. As an adult, when you forget to turn in your work before the deadline, your mom can’t just come drop it off, and the consequence isn’t missing five minutes of recess. When a coworker is being unkind to you, you can’t ask your parents to call their parents and talk it out. It takes learned social skills to interact with those people in our lives. When you need help, it becomes your job to ask for it. To know how to advocate for yourself instead of relying on your parents to do it for you.
Don’t get me wrong. I know you love your child. I know you are doing it because you are absolutely insanely obsessed with them. But, please, let them struggle now, so they better know how to deal with those struggles later in life.
One of the things I hate to see most is a missed opportunity of learning or growing for a child because the parents swooped in and saved the day, unaware of the learning opportunity they just stole from their child.
So, rather than solving their problems for them, give them the tools to try and solve them on their own. I always tell my students that when they encounter a problem, first I want them to try and solve it on their own. If that doesn’t work, then, I want them to come to me so I can help them. Our kids need to know that we (parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, etc.) are all here to help them, but not always to save them. It is all about empowering them to be bold enough to stand up for themselves, advocate for what they need, and have the courage to be kind to others. We want them to know how to talk to others when they are upset, how to own up to their actions, and how to accept the consequences of their choices.
This only comes with struggle. And as a parent, sitting on the sidelines and letting the struggle happen is painful, but it is necessary.
I know how much you love your child, so as a teacher, I promise you these things. I will be fair with your child. I will help them learn from their mistakes, but I will also let them know it is okay to mess up. I will help them make friends when they are lonely, and I will coach them through the moments where someone is unkind to them. I will give them an extra squeeze when they just need some loving, and I will always listen to what they have to tell me. I will be sure that my classroom is a place where they want to be. A place where they feel valued, safe, and loved. I will be sure they know I am on their side and I am here to help them.
So please, stop saving your child. Let them grow. I promise, they will be okay. I’ll be sure of it.