I’ve spent the vast majority of my career (to date) teaching teenagers. And the majority of *that* time, was spent teaching them English. That’s a lot of time. And teenagers, on the whole, don’t like learning English particularly much.
I’d like to think that I’ve helped. That I managed to engage my students with the lessons. Maybe inspire some of them with my love for the language, for the writing. Maybe.
But, be that as it may, I’m really experienced at teaching teenagers. Which is a completely different kettle of fish from teaching children just born. As in, my own precious cherubs…. currently Miss10, Miss7 and Mr6.
As a parent, it took an exceptionally long time to realise that, if I wanted my kids to understand something, I needed to teach it to them. Just thick, I guess. But I couldn’t expect them to ‘know’ it, if they’d never experienced it before. It was a pretty powerful revelation when it eventually came, let me tell you! But that brings me (finally!) to Tip #3: Set expectations.
Because really, how will a child know what is expected of them, if they’re never told what to expect?
Case in point: social protocols.
I somehow expected that my eldest child would pick up, as though through osmosis, how to act in public. That maybe she would watch, and copy, appropriate behaviours.
Nope. Didn’t happen.
It wasn’t until I sat down with her and explained the situation that we were about to enter, then told her what I expected her to do, that she understood and was able to meet those expectations. It was simple enough, really. But without my explicitly telling her those expectations of mine, how on earth was she meant to meet them? Exactly. She couldn’t.
So, for example, now when she has a friend come over for a visit, she meets them at the front gate (like I’ve said before, quite a large property) and welcomes them. Once inside, she asks if they’d like a drink / something to eat. When playing, she doesn’t dominate, doesn’t demand. And when her friend is leaving, she’ll go back to the front gate with them, after thanking them, thanking their parent / guardian, etc etc.
It seems simple enough, but it had to be taught. None of it just ‘happened’. And it’s not that she was anti-being hospitable; she just didn’t know. Because I hadn’t done my job, and taught her. So now? I look ahead. Plan ahead for what situations my children will be encountering, and let them know what it is I expect of them.
A number of times now, they have come with me on a Friday morning, to the two-hour-long meeting I have with the Beerwah Writer’s Group. They sit quietly, in one corner of the room, for the entire time, amusing themselves. They never speak so loudly that they distract the group. Who joke that “they’re not kids, they’re cardboard cutouts!” because my children are so respectful and so well-behaved. Why? Because I expect them to be. I’ve told them how to behave. And when they do, they get a reward for it – a chocolate bar each, or something. They’ve earned it!
So anyway, that’s my tip #3. Set expectations. Without them, there are no boundaries. No goal posts. And that’s not fair.
Would you agree?