Teaching Children Adaptability
With back to school upon us, one particular school’s message to parents and children returning from summer vacation has caught our attention. The call to action for parents and students was prompted by a common issue at the beginning of a school year: class assignments. Every year the school is inundated by calls from parents. “My child didn’t get the teacher they wanted,” “My son isn’t in the same class as his best friend” or “I’d really prefer if my daughter had the first lunch period instead of the last one.” As a result of these seemingly innocent requests from families, the administration of this school saw the chance for a valuable lesson. A lesson in adaptability.
Everyone has a comfort zone and everyone has preferences. In our modern day world of customization and increased convenience, we are used to having choices, personal treatment and instant gratification. We no longer go to the library and find out that the book we wanted is checked out (if we even make it to a library anymore!) we tap the screen on our tablet and get the book we want delivered instantaneously. In an example the administrator in question used: “you no longer have to drive to Foot Locker to buy sneakers for your children…our children do not have to pick between the white shoes and the blue shoes. You can go online and order the neon green shoes with their name stitched into the heel.” In other words, kids today are more accustomed, from an early age, to getting what they want.
This isn’t necessarily a question of income anymore. Children of many backgrounds have far more options these days in almost every area of their lives. Choice is wonderful, however we all know that times come in life where we simply won’t have the same level of choice in a given matter. We have to roll with the punches.
The school issued a request to parents: don’t call in with special requests for you children, but more than that, use it as an opportunity to educate your children and build their character. Back to school time can be seen as a microcosm of any new situation in life, any time of transition. The school used the example of a statistic stating that “the average adult under the age of 30 will change their job at least five to eight times over the course of their career.” Besides the idea of preparing children for new offices, co-workers and responsibilities we can see this as a lesson covering almost every facet of a full life. Moving to a new place of residence, losing, gaining or changing friends, family emergencies and so many more circumstances will fall out of our control over the course of our lives.
Adaptability – Adjust To The Unexpected
They say “the only constant in life is change,” so what better way to prepare children for the rest of their lives than to give them the tool of adaptability. It is a foundation upon which to build the rest of their lives, the precursor to handling all the challenges that may come.
We wish all of our dear readers and their entire families a wonderful and successful school year filled with growth in education, skills and character.
Parents: Instead of making sure your children have absolutely everything they want, make sure they have what they need. Discuss with them the differences between wants and needs and help them to understand priorities. When they don’t get something they want ask them how it makes them feel and what they would like to do about it. Discuss alternatives, compromises and other ways to look at a situation. A loss in one area may be a gain in another. It is also important to walk the walk in your own life. After explaining to a child that they may not have something they want, complaining about not getting your way will absolutely send mixed signals. Demonstrate adaptability in your own life so children have a positive example to emulate.
Teens: Life is going to throw curve balls your way. No one gets everything they want all the time. A missed opportunity may open up another one that turns out to be even better. Sometimes the best changes, the best relationships, the best fit for us happen by accident. By remaining adaptable we don’t just become more comfortable as life inevitably shifts, we remain open to possibilities we didn’t even know existed.