This post originally appeared on Kidsstoppress
Parenthood comes with a wide range of expectations and responsibilities. Having someone depend on you 100% for all their wants and needs is probably the biggest responsibility a person can undertake. When it comes to raising our children, we face moral dilemmas daily. We question ourselves every second of the day, wondering if anything we have said or done has been detrimental to them.
As parents, we all hope for and want our children to excel at everything they take on in life; be it academics, sports, theatre, art and so on. Moreover, we crave for happiness for our children. We try to give them the freedom to learn and discover who they are for themselves and teach them to be passionate about whatever they decide to pursue. These days so many contrasting and interesting methods of learning are being utilized, and therefore school for most children has become a place of self-discovery. Sometimes during this process of self-discovery is when many parents detect certain learning disabilities in their child.
It is often confusing for parents of children with learning disabilities. Many times, the signs are extremely subtle and difficult to identify which is why we sometimes see the learning disability being identified when the child is much older. It can be hard for parents to know whether things are normal or not, especially if it is your first child. Some of the familiar learning disabilities children experience today are ADHD and Dyslexia.
Dealing with the truth that your child has a learning disability is often a very emotionally draining process.
Denial is one of the most frequently used defense mechanisms. It can only temporarily repress the situation but not erase it completely. In this case, denial of a learning disability in your child can be tricky. I remember a case where a mother was slowly realizing that her child was not developing speech as per his age mandated. At the age of four, he was still speaking single words and not in full sentences. Following her gut instinct, she concluded that something needed to be done. She lived in a joint family along with her husband and son. When she mentioned this to her mother-in-law, her belief that her son may have a learning disability was instantly quashed. She was told that she was being fussy and over-thinking the situation. This was a case of the child’s grandparents not being able to accept the truth. Her husband was neutral. However, the mother still had her doubts so she went independently to consult with a speech therapist who then confirmed that her son did, in fact, require language therapy. The next step was to engage the entire family in counseling with the speech therapist.
The role of schools
Schools face a colossal amount of backlash from many parents for suggesting that the child may have a specific learning disability. There is an increased amount of awareness and engagement from schools today regarding learning disabilities and the symptoms. Earlier, unmotivated children who did not show any interest in school work were pulled aside and termed as having a learning disability, when in fact they just needed to be pushed a little. Many children are often referred first to doctors and psychiatrists to see if the learning disability can be ‘treated’ with medication. It is challenging to distinguish between a child who cannot learn and do something from a child who will not learn and do something. However now teachers are trained to spot any form of learning disability early on, alert the parents and work with them on a special and structured routine for the child.
Children with learning disabilities are as smart and talented as their peers; they are not ‘different’ in any way, contrary to popular theory. They are just not able to accomplish the task at hand at the same speed and with the same method as their peers. So, parents work with professionals like special educators to help their child stay on track and on par with their peers. They are taught that many people are successful in overcoming difficulties and that they will soon be among those people.
A learning disability is not the result of any form of negligence from the parents. This is something that parents need to chant to themselves repeatedly. The most you can do is keep your eyes open for signs of difficulties your child may be facing in school or even at home when one on one time is spent with them in educational activities. Support from the parents is crucial and focusing on optimistic outcomes can make a world of difference to the child’s progress. As Ignacio Estrada said, “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
This post originally appeared on Her View From Home
There are certain things that make my heart skip a beat. When I was young and restless, it was if a guy I liked smiled at me or if I was expecting some exciting news. How life has changed. My heart now does a double take every time my sons smile at me – one with his bugs bunny teeth and the other with his toothless smile. But yesterday when my elder son told me he was happy, my heart melted.
There was no preceding event based on which he said it. He just came up to me, put his head on my lap and said “I’m happy”; this from an almost 3-year-old. As a mother, those three words are the most sought after ones. Happiness is what we aim for, among other things.
But is it only happiness we want for our children? I think aside from this, what most mothers want for their children, is success. Wanting success has become an obsession. To achieve this, mothers are now going that extra mile to cultivate their children to survive in the constantly changing world. We are preparing them to survive in a world which we can’t even imagine so we enrol them in all kinds of classes– language, sports, music, drama and more. There is, of course, always an upside and downside to everything in life. The upside to this is that children in today’s generation are brilliant and incredibly talented. Gone are the days when only academics mattered. The downside? All this focus on “training” children is causing anxiety and exhaustion in them and in us, leading to various degrees of unhappiness. This is something many mothers do not want to admit. The competition today among children is brutal, resulting in them losing out on
their childhood – a childhood meant to be filled with freedom. Structure, stability and various degrees of freedom make happy children.
I have always questioned myself in my role as a mother. I think that this self-doubt is an ongoing process with most mothers, always questioning ourselves every step of the way and wondering if what we are doing is good for our children or hurting them in any way. We are always in doubt about whether or not our children are emotionally happy. We search and ache for some sort of validation for our actions concerning our children. This is normal and human. No mother knows it all and some self-examination and re-evaluation is sometimes good for the soul. This is how we as mothers incorporate change and take motherhood in our stride. Motherhood is a continuously evolving process, forcing mothers to change with it. However, I have learned that the biggest validation does not come from family or friends, but from our children themselves.
Happiness is an emotional state which needs to be developed. The Law of Cause and Effect is something I try to practice as a mother. I have learned from my own experiences that when you direct positive words, actions and energy (positive energy) at someone, the same positive energy gets thrown back at you. The quality of your thoughts controls your actions. We want our children to be healthy, happy and free. Simple as that. For them to be so, their mothers need to be healthy, happy and free individuals. I truly believe mothers are responsible for the energy that is received by their children and we all want to nudge positive energy in their direction. If we are able to do that, based on Newton’s law of motion, this energy will bounce right back to us.
Lasting happiness is complicated, but rewarding. It is a habit. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product”, a quote which rings true and one which would serve all us mothers out there, well.
I remember my elder son’s first day of school. After a year of Mom & Me classes, the day had finally come when he would be attending school on his own. It would probably be the most emotional day for me as the mother, having realized that the time had finally come for my son to spread his wings. Choosing a pre-school for my son had not been a difficult task. My husband and I were always very clear on the kind of school we want for our children; a school that would focus on letting them live, make learning fun and focus on helping them experience their childhood. We were lucky enough to find a school whose philosophies matched ours. But this is now.
A video called 'The Kindergarten' by Innovative Global Education was sent to me recently and talks about Friedrich Froebel's (who laid the foundation for modern education) Children's Garden and about the US education system. The content of that video made an incredible impact on me and got me thinking about our children. Times are changing and the way children are being taught is contrasting compared to a few decades ago when the teaching methods were traditional and text book based. We as parents along with the schools are now focusing on changing what we want our children to grow up learning. The focus is less on WHAT they learn but rather on HOW they learn.
“I want my daughter to go to IIT when she grows up”, “I want my son to study Medicine and become a famous Doctor when he grows up”, “Why are you playing with a Chef’s hat and frying pan? You need to be sitting and doing a page from your workbook and not wasting time playing”, “Unless you can sit in this chair for a half hour and write the numbers 1-50, you are not getting up”. I think these and similar statements are ones that we are all too familiar with as parents; we have either said it ourselves at one point or another or have over- heard another parent say it. These statements are also nothing out of the ordinary. But if we dig a little deeper, are they conducive to helping our children grow? We all have ambitions for our children. It is natural to want to check off pre-defined milestones at each age of development. I am sure most parents when asked “what do you want your child to be when he/she grows up?” will answer “anything, if he/she is happy doing it.” It is also human to know from the day your child is born, which college he/she will attend, or have specific ambitions for your child – Doctor, Lawyer, Scientist and so on. Having said this, how do we make sure that we do not pressure our children very early on to meet certain expectations that we have set for them?
It is not an uncommon sight to see a childhood be taken over by homework, hours of practice workbooks, tuition and tests. For many, this is the best way for their child to learn and become successful in life. Often the discussion here is whether we are limiting the child’s overall growth by doing this. Children thrive when imagination and creativity is nurtured. They are built to learn by experiencing various touches, smells, sounds, sights and tastes. But sitting for hours in a classroom learning only from a text book does not achieve this. Evaluating children based on how long they can sit still in a chair without standing up, how long they can keep quiet and how they perform on tests, paints only half a picture of the child’s potential. The strengths are over-looked and sometimes take a back seat. We end up imposing a glass ceiling, which is an invisible barrier on their growth, not realising the long-term impact that this ceiling will create. We end up limiting their capabilities.
Learning was a rocky journey for me growing up. I was never a good test-taker and reading and studying from text books was something I never related to. Even at the pre-school level, I would find myself looking for someone to come up with creative ways to teach me a concept so that I could understand it better. Later however, the level of understanding was judged on material that was taught only one way and on test scores. There were never-ending parent-teacher conferences where my mother was told that I needed to get better grades and that I needed extra help with certain things. In my head, there was a voice screaming “I know my stuff!” but unfortunately it was a silent voice which would never be heard.
After having children of my own, I knew immediately that I wanted the world for them. I wanted to give them the opportunity to feel the sand slip through their fingers every day at the same time learning about different textures, watch centipedes inching along in the grass at the same time learning about how many legs it has, splash with all their might in a splash pool at the same time learning what floats and sinks in water. I was clear that as a parent, my energy, time and resources needed to be placed in the right places. Even though my elder son is only 3 years old right now, I have quickly come to realise that the best gift I have probably given him is free time, enabling him to discover himself and his passions.
We need to take a step back and put into perspective what it is that we really want for our children. Parents often have similar hopes and dreams for their children. As I always say, there is no right and wrong parenting style; it’s each to their own. Whatever pattern of learning each of us follow, I hope we can help our children unleash their utmost potential. I hope that we can help them rise above the expectations we have set for them, thereby breaking the glass ceiling.
Hi! I'm Antara and I was once a 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend' kind of girl. Now at 33 and a mom of a teddy bear looking 2 year old boy (with another little bundle on the way), I am still that 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend kind of girl.'