When Should Parents Get Involved
CNN recently did an article on when parents should get involved in their children’s problems. This is what their expert advice is on some common situations children, and their parents face. I found the ones that deal with school issues to be very well-stated and would love to pass this advice along to all of your parents out there who wonder, “Should I intervene, or not?”
The first topic they wrote about is should you get involved if your child has an unreasonable amount of homework to do. Jan Busey, an elementary teacher from Asheville, North Carolina advised that parents first make sure that their child is actually working when they are supposed to rather than playing with a pet or daydreaming.
She said that if they find that they are honestly doing their job but are still overwhelmed, they should make an appointment with their child’s teacher, but to come prepared. “Set goals for your child to complete an assignment, then assess at the end of that time,” says Busey. “And write down specific challenges. The more you can show that you’ve tried to deal with the issue at home, the more receptive a teacher will be to your concerns.”
She also suggests that if the child is improving with the structure you have created, you probably don’t need to meet with the teacher; just continue doing what you’re doing.
Next, should you get involved when another child is bullying your child on the playground? Stacy DeBroff, author of The Mom Book, recommends that you don’t get involved right away, unless you are afraid that your child is not safe. Instead, DeBroff says, “If you’re there, watch closely and give your child a chance to solve the problem on her own.”
But, what about bullying that occurs on the school playground? She recommends the same approach, saying that it’s better to equip your child with the skills he needs to stay safe, empowering him with the determination to handle the situation on his own.
DeBroff suggests that parents rehearse appropriate responses to the bullying with their child. So, if your child has a sense of humor, responding in humor might be her best option, or, if a more assertive response is appropriate, have her practice a strong “Cut it out” then have her walk away.
Michele Borba, an educational psychologist from Palm Springs, California, and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, said, “Have her practice standing up straight, chest out, like she’s wearing a bulletproof vest that taunts bounce right off of.”
Reconsider your approach if the bullying continues and your child is feeling threatened. That is when you get involved by calmly removing your child from the playground with a viable excuse, like snack time, rather than trying to talk to her in front of the bully, which will only embarrass her further.
If the bullying is happening at school, contact the teacher and let them know what is happening. From a teacher’s perspective, I will tell you that many times bullying incidents occur when the teacher is not around, and is therefore oblivious to the bullying. So, inform the teacher, and ask them to keep an eye out for further episodes. The article states that most schools take bullying seriously, which is true. Most states, 39 to be exact, have adopted laws addressing bullying, so teachers should know what to do to handle incidents at school.
What do you do when your child’s teacher gave your child a lower grade than he thinks he deserves? Jan Busey recommends that parents should only get involved if their child is willing to take part in the conversation with the teacher. “If you believe your child’s points are valid, say you’ll make an appointment with the teacher but that he’ll have to make the case.”
Now, I love this part; Busey says to leave it up to your child to ask the teacher why she gave him the grade she did. “Hearing the feedback from the teacher will help him fine-tune future assignments,” says Busey. And helping your child to list his reasons for disagreeing with the grade ahead of time teaches him how to approach future disagreements in a constructive manner.
But CNN says (and I strongly agree) to reconsider going in to talk to the teacher if your child commonly misreads or incorrectly copies down instructions, and make sure you have all of the details before jumping to possibly incorrect conclusions. As the article states, “A stellar report on blue whales is less so if the task was to write about smaller mammals of the sea.”
Finally, what do you do when your child learned a not-so-nice word from a classmate? Don’t try to contact the classmate’s mother; it takes more effort than it’s worth. Busey says, “I was actually glad when my children used those words — at home, anyway. It gave me the chance to explain what they mean and how they make other people feel.”
The article recommends that you reconsider if it becomes a regular problem when your child plays with this particular classmate, and he is breaking rules with this classmate regularly. Now it’s time to talk to the parents, but do so with the understanding that they may not even be aware of what is happening themselves. Ask them to keep tabs on what the kids are doing, or have the classmate come to your house where you can see for yourself what is going on.
I concentrated my blog on the aspects of this article that pertained to school, but if you are interested in the rest of the advice that CNN had to offer parents, feel free to follow this link.
I would like to wrap this blog up however, by giving you some examples CNN gave of stories teachers told about just how far meddling parents may go:
–”I had one sixth-grade parent who would e-mail me the night before tests, asking for a copy of the test to ‘help’ her child.”
– “One mother brought her child to school late every Friday so she would conveniently miss the math flash-card tests, which made the girl nervous.”
– “A parent changed the relay order for a swim meet on my computer while I was out coaching. She wanted her kid to swim backstroke, not butterfly.”
– “One father called me after an uninvited child showed up at his daughter’s slumber party, asking me to penalize the student. I told him teachers don’t police slumber parties.”
You sure as heck don’t want to be one of these parents!