By Jill Hope
I want to share something with you that recently struck me hard. I’ve noticed this phenomenon before, but once again it reminds me of the power we possess to direct our lives.
My son has been having a difficult time in his writing at school this year. There is a big focus on writing; it must be in full and complete sentences and with a lot of detail. One of my son’s ways of dealing with writing (not one of his favorite subjects) is to get it done fast and move on to more interesting tasks. In fact, when I asked him what makes him feel smart, he said when he is the first to finish his work. So, when he writes, he keeps it to the bare minimum, the details are high-level and sketchy at best, and he rushes through his work.
I’ve known about this issue for a while and when I spoke with his teacher about it 4 months ago, he assured me that the writing would improve as we moved through the year and that they would focus on not rushing the work. So, I didn’t pay much attention to the issue nor did I see any work coming home that would lead me to believe that the problem wasn’t improving.
Until a couple of weeks ago that is, when a summary book that my son produced came home. I read it through and thought it looked pretty good. That was until I read his score – 1.5 out of 4. Okay, in my mind I quickly equated that score to a D+, not a grade I would ever consider to be acceptable, and especially not at this point, with only 3 months left in the school year!
I spoke with my son about it and he was extremely defensive, which right there told me that he knew it wasn’t his best work. But with his words he kept saying “I did my best work, Mom. I am proud of what I’ve done. Most of my grades aren’t like this…it’s just one grade.”
Well, I don’t put myself on the side of the tiger mom, so I really struggled with how to handle this situation, but a voice deep inside me kept saying “you’re not expecting enough. You know he is capable of much better”. The more I discussed this with my son, the uglier the discussion got. At one point my son even said, “Well, I guess I am a moron” (moron is his new ‘go-to’ word). In an effort to lighten the mood, I told him that if he really was a moron and he brought home a score of 1.5 out of 4, I’d be patting him on the back and taking him out to celebrate rather than having this conversation with him.
Deep down, I knew I couldn’t let this go. My son is more capable than that. I want him to grow up to express his full potential and not settle for the quick and easy road in life. I knew I needed to understand what the gap was between what my son was producing and what the teacher was expecting. I met with the teacher and we came up with what I felt was a great plan to help my son establish stronger writing habits.
Here is where my amazement comes in. The teacher began implementing the plan the next morning. The class had a writing test later that same day. The teacher reported that not only did it appear that my son was already writing so much more than normal on his test, but that he was one of the last ones to finish it. This is huge because normally my son prides himself on being the first one done with everything. In less than one day on this new plan he is already changing his behavior in a positive way. Less than one day!
So, here is what this situation reminds me about how this wonderful universe of ours works:
- You get what you are willing to accept.
I realized that until now I was accepting my son’s attitude that it is okay for him to rush through his work. I was accepting the idea that he doesn’t love writing and therefore it is okay for him to put in less effort than he was capable of. By changing what I am willing to accept, which is that I accept no less than my son’s best effort in every subject, what I received changed to match what I was willing to accept.
- You get what you expect.
I realized that there was a place inside me that expected my son may not excel in writing, because I knew he didn’t care for it. When I began expecting that, regardless of how much he likes a subject, that I expect him to do his very best, he rose to my expectation and produced a level of work much more in line with my expectations.
- When you change how you think, everything changes.
All I did was to change how I viewed my son with regard to his writing, and then I took inspired action to help him (meeting with the teacher to come up with a plan). Once I changed, everything fell in line to match my new thoughts on this subject.
- Big changes don’t have to take a long time.
The day after I decided to view the situation differently and take the inspired action, I already began to see positive changes. When you expect changes to take a long time, they will. I expected the improvement to happen rapidly because the year is winding down and I wanted this issue resolved quickly. By holding to my desire to have the improvements occur quickly, they did (and much more quickly than I ever expected!).
Try approaching you child’s next school challenge by looking at yourself and your views about the situation. What have you been expecting and accepting from your child? What thoughts might you need you change that could be holding your child back? When you change how you are thinking, what you are expecting, and what you are willing to accept, you can see dramatic changes in what you get, and often very quickly. Your child will meet you where your thoughts are.