Guest Blogger: Melanie Nichols
This March, we are sharing a special series of blog posts from Melanie Nichols. This series was originally posted in February 2021. You can find Melanie and her blog here. If you would like to submit to our blog, please email us.
Be consistent. Follow through. Let them fail. Let the little stuff go. These are all good strategies for parents and teachers to use. But what happens when they become too extreme? That’s when loving parents and teachers know the power of being flexible.
Let’s take a look at the idea of letting kids fail. Constantly rescuing our kids from failure means they miss opportunities to learn responsibility and grow as problem solvers. Sometimes it is good for them to be accountable for forgotten homework or deal with the consequence of a lunchbox left at home. But sometimes, these mistakes are a red flag to us as parents and teachers that our kids do not yet have the skills to succeed in this situation. And other times, it’s just a rare lapse in an otherwise effective routine. These are both situations that might call for flexibility.
No two children are exactly alike. A strategy that works well for most kids in a classroom – being consistent, for example – can be taken to an extreme when applied to all children in all situations. A consistent routine upon arrival is a good idea unless a child hasn’t had breakfast yet that morning. Similarly, a strategy that works well most of the time at home – letting go of little things, for example – can be too extreme when limits are not being set or enforced at all. Being a flexible parent/teacher also allows us to explore options, change our minds, work together with our kids, and learn more ourselves.
So how do we decide which situations are good opportunities to embrace flexibility? An article on imperfectfamilies.com (link below) gives some questions to guide us in evaluating our parenting/teaching strategies.
- Is my current strategy working? (If yes, then…keep doing it!)
- Do I feel stressed trying to keep up with this strategy?
- Am I doing something that doesn’t fit with my personality?
- Am I doing something that doesn’t seem to be working for my child’s personality?
In a world filled with sometimes contradictory advice, getting caught up in this idea or strategy is easy. We want to do our best for our children, but even a good strategy can be taken too far. As loving parents and teachers, we sometimes need to step back and remember that finding flexibility and balance is more important.