One of my students was recently accepted to university. An unlikely candidate diagnosed with ADHD and Auditory Processing Disorder, her high school dutifully explained that she was not meant for Cegep, let alone University. Instead, they suggested that she attend a trade school. She did not, however, concede to their low expectations, and, fast-forward three years, she received her university acceptance just two days after applying.
When I received the message revealing the news, I was so overcome with emotion that I cried. My tears were more than just joy. I cried because I knew that this was the ultimate ideal of what success meant to her. I also felt a sense of personal pride in her success and knew that it has been a long and difficult three years.
But the most defining reason for my tears was because I knew that she was a success story and a role model for all families touched by academic and personal difficulties.
She, along with many of my other students, have inspired and taught me so much.
Listen deeply. Children who are struggling need to be able to count on somebody who hears them.
Listen to your child, not just their words but also their actions and their emotions.
Listen to the feelings that they can communicate and to those that are more difficult to express. Validate how they are feeling, and sometimes just listen silently, without giving any feedback.
Earn the right to be trusted. Make sure that you follow through– do what you say you are going to do, no excuses. We hear it all the time—if somebody wants something to happen then they make it happen. So make the time. That is how you build a loving, hopeful, long-lasting and positive trust.
Celebrate the small victories. Give your child a sense of hope and accomplishment—it will help them become empowered, successful individuals. Start by breaking tasks (academic and/or personal) into smaller parts and celebrate each small step as it is achieved. With repetition, your child will experience a boost in self-esteem as they realize that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to!
Find the silver lining.
No matter what the situation, there is always something positive to take out of it.
Make sure that you help your child identify those positive elements so that they can learn from their experiences and enhance the way in which they view the world.
Stand up for what is right and fair. Teach your children to advocate for themselves in a positive way by modelling what it should look like. Show your child how to positively and politely, but firmly, ask for what they need for success.
Support with your heart. Sometimes, the best support has nothing to do with taking action but rather comes in the form of a non-tangible feeling. It is something that is felt and shared. Make sure that your child knows that you really care about them and believe in them. Don’t just assume that they know, make sure that they feel it.
Never give up hope.
You are your child’s most important cheerleader!
Even if a situation seems impossible, make sure to model dedication and perseverance through problem solving with a positive attitude. Just imagine if my student would have given up and decided not to enter Cegep? Who knows where she would have ended up!
Until next time, happy reading!