Share this Post
Share this Post
(See the first post in this series – Common Sense Learning.)
Children want more autonomy as they grow…and that’s a good thing. One of the greatest struggles I felt as a public high school teacher was working with kids who didn’t want to do what I was asking them to do. Often times, I couldn’t justify why my task list for them was more valuable than theirs. And even if I could, pressuring them wasn’t very effective. They wanted to come to their decisions on their own. I think any parent of teens or preteens is quite familiar with this. We may see months in advance what choices would be good for them, which, as a parent (or teacher or mentor), can be really frustrating. When the musically gifted kid, whom we know well, suddenly quits piano in favor of starting a Youtube channel, we want to grab the wheel. In theory, we may be okay with it. In reality, our hearts race, our temples pulsate.
But, the fact that a teenager would want to do things his or her own way, really is a good thing. It is. It really is. Let’s all just keep repeating that to ourselves. Good. Thing. Why? Because this is what kids are supposed to do as they grow up; they learn to drive themselves. As they make more choices, they become wiser. As they take on responsibilities, they become responsible. We know this as parents; we have to start practicing it in schools. If we continue to choose for them, to push, prod, and remind — we will have grown-up kids who always freeze, procrastinate, and forget. Or they’ll just rebel, and we’ll damage our relationships with them, losing any influence at all.
So what? What can we do? We can take our cues from them. Growing up is a gradual process for most. As kids start to rebel, we can give them more rope in the right places while still keeping safe boundaries for them. Maybe letting them spend every weekend binge watching the hottest Netflix Original isn’t the best idea, but letting them decide what and how they want to learn seems pretty reasonable to me. Who knows what they’ll come up with…even Ferris Bueller spent some of his day off soaking up Picasso.[Photo Credit: Film still from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, image source]