I see so many students who are overworked, having brain freezes, and the beginnings of panic attacks over simple things. On top of this, parents are paying dearly from checkbooks to send their children to elite schools. I heard a radio interview in which a therapist in the D.C. area sees many highly successful and educated patients. Her clients are full of anxiety and depression. Her claim is that their entire lives, from too early an age, was focused on how to read and succeed in school. She claimed, and I don’t recall the name so sorry, that they did not spend enough time with their primary caregivers early in life to develop emotional intelligence and as adults, she was seeing the effects.
Most students I see are pretty compliant, even overly complaint. The best example of over compliance is when a junior high student said, “I don’t like school but I have to go or I’ll never get a good job.” I thought that was just as depressing as he sounded when he said it. Here is a healthy young man, deflated already, by the stress of maintaining grades and an active lifestyle where very little of reflects his own inner values (including piano with me). Do we teach our children this is life? You work harder, then harder, then even harder again? Let’s sacrifice all to making an almighty dollar by an institution that guarantees us scholarship money go to college. And, “all” is showing itself to be a bigger piece of the pie than any of us could have realized. It doesn’t matter if they love, like, or hate it – it’s all for their own good. What kind of children are we creating? What kind of adults will they become? Will they even be able to find their true purpose in life when it stares them in the face or will they relent to being miserable and a victim of the system their parents have paid to “help” them be the best? And the deepest question, what are our own fears that lead us to these decisions?
“We measure “progress” by how well a child is cooperating with parents and teachers, rather than how well parents and schools are meeting children’s attachment and learning needs.“ Laurie A. Couture, Instead of Medicating and Punishing
There are children who are the opposite of over compliant. These children easily discharge their emotions about the hypocrisy of it all. They see clearly when they are asked to do something ridiculous. This is when parents are told their child is behind, ADD, ADHD, Behavior Defiant, or just a pain in the you know what, and they better get some help. A six year old saw my son at home and said, “Your son is lucky he can stay home. He doesn’t have to go to school.” This is a highly intuitive child who regularly shares with me the onslaught of rules at her school. She, and others like her, are here to wake us up. They shine a glaring light that we, as adults, have gone too far.
Children are not to be managed, children are to be heard. If we don’t listen to them, they will make themselves heard whether we like it or not. Tweetable
There is no room in full-sized classrooms for lagging students. There are test scores to be raised and how dare this child defy this? It would be better for them to shut up and do the best they can than actually question the system. Oh, but they do question with bravery and repetition to make their case heard while the adults look at them, trying to fix them with drugs, excessive homework and tutoring after a long day at school, and frownie faces on a chart, to then plop a label on as fast as they can.
When parents ask me how I work with children who are or have (fill in the blank) I tell them the same way I work with all the other children. One lesson at a time, being present with who they are, taking things step by step. There is no one over me telling me that by six years, four months, and three days a child should know all the notes on the staff or play at a certain level. Yet, we tell our children they are ahead or behind, when really, they are where they are and it could change at any minute. Everyone has an area of attention surplus and an equal area of attention deficiency. If someone is not interested in learning piano, it doesn’t matter what I do, it just ain’t happening. The exceptions are the overly compliant children who hate it but know that must learn it anyway or face the consequences. Isn’t that a fun way to teach? NOT!
Are you investing your time and energy in a depreciating education? Throw out the test scores and take a honest look at your child. How is his heart? How is his confidence? What needs supporting and what needs challenging?
A new young student was very low in confidence and struggled with reading music. To build his confidence and showcase his natural abilities, we learned songs by rote that he enjoyed. It turns out he is a very spirited player and over a few months, lost his anxiety around making mistakes and began to see himself as a true player. The next semester, we focused in on reading. These were tough lessons, requiring lots of concentration and focus, as reading music doesn’t come easily to him. The good news is he stayed the course because of the “heart” work we did the semester before. It was apparent that until his confidence and belief in his own skills were proven to him, he would take intense study on the weak areas as too much challenge and shut down. I am grateful the parent understood what I was doing and had patience. It can be difficult not to jump the gun, request the teacher hurry it along or request testing or rule out learning disorders. I’m not discounting learning issues that arise, but I am saying that we can’t let our sense of when things should happen dictate our course of action. Our heart works with our brain. We can get so focused on feeding the brain that we neglect the heart.
Let us not invest in depreciating education models. Our children demand more. Stand up for your child in any way you can.
“Children come to us full of the what IS, not what ISN’T.” – Dr. Shefail Tsabary, The Conscious Parent