Acceptance, collaboration, putting yourself in another’s shoes, admitting someone else may have a better idea. These are not just difficult concepts for kids but boy oh boy, are they difficult for us grownups too.
No Need to be a Critic — a Struggling Student is their Own Judge & Jury
Working with kids who are struggling in school gives me a window into each child’s values, belief-system and self-esteem. I’ve taken note — when it comes down to it, each and every kid who is not making the grade truly feels left out.
At the root of all the anger, anxiety, blame, tears, skipping school and bullying is a genuine feeling of inadequacy. No matter the age or the problem, they feel judged by their peers, their teachers, their parents and themselves.
Mindfulness Abates Judgment
It’s not without work that I’ve learned to be intentional about stepping back for a minute and recognizing my own inability to judge anyone. Really, who am I to judge?
This ability to learn to love myself and others just as we are comes from the expected variables, including age, life experience, forgiveness for past wrongs and most recently yoga. I’ve been practicing yoga consistently for a good five years now and the thing that my Type A brain loves most about it is the fact that there is no judgment. I’m not supposed to judge others (especially that one guy in the front of the room whose hot tree is like perfect every time!) and I’m certainly not supposed to judge myself.
That’s what I teach my students. No matter the diagnosis or the grades, no one is allowed to judge you, not even the harshest critic – yourself.
This is not to say a student shouldn’t strive for that ‘A+’ or try out for the lead in the school play, only that we all have different abilities, learning styles and gifts. Some subjects will be harder. That’s a fact. Withholding judgment is not a free ride to eliminate trying your very best.
Be Free from Judgment & Help Your Child Learn to Love Learning
The goal is to be free from judging the aftermath: Judging yourself as a parent for working late again, judging your child for getting a C on his math test, judging your spouse for not doing his share of the housework, judging that mom at the playground who always has your kid’s favorite bunny graham snack.
Learning to accept what is, opens the door to what could be.
By refraining from judging yourself as a parent, teacher or provider, you are giving your child, your student, the freedom to explore.
Isn’t that really what’s at the crux of the matter. We feel stifled, so we judge. We need the freedom to say let’s try this, instead of I must do this.
By giving ourselves that freedom, we are teaching our kiddos how to love learning. And that’s the ultimate gift.
Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services. Christine truly loves helping struggling students realize their inner potential and the possibilities that await them in and out of the classroom.