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Advocating for Your Child: How to Set a Good Example for Dealing with Adversity

Learning to navigate challenges at school is an important lesson for students, but when do parents need to step in? And how can you set a good example when you do?

Part of healthy social and academic development is gaining the skills needed to overcome everyday challenges — such as a difficult grade, a challenging assignment, or a disagreement between school friends. For the most part, a student who works with his or her teachers and classmates can learn how to resolve these issues independently.

However, there are certain scenarios where a parent might wonder: “Is my child overwhelmed with this challenge? Do I need to step in and advocate on his or her behalf?”

Lead by example

Parents are encouraged to set an example for their children when it comes to self-advocacy. Show respect to authority, communicate your needs, and seek appropriate solutions.

If your child is facing a situation that requires intervention — such as a need for special education services, a classroom bully, grades that he or she is unable to improve despite dedicated effort, etc. — it may be time for you to step in and work with his or her teachers directly to find a resolution.

Not only will this smooth over the situation at hand, but it can also be an important example for your child. Students do not always know how to articulate their needs. It is not always easy for them to put what they are struggling with into words. By working together with your child and the school to find solutions together, you can show your child exactly how to approach and correct difficult problems in the classroom and beyond.

Remember that we are a team

First and foremost, it is important to remember that your family and the school are a team. Even if the situation revolves around a teacher’s grading or methods, try not to fall into an us-versus-them attitude.

It is normal for students to feel frustrated when they do not understand or agree with an instructor. Help them process this disappointment with grace by exemplifying a good attitude — instead of complaining and showing negativity, seek to understand.

Connect with the instructors and administrators who can talk with you both formally and informally about your child’s performance. Encourage open and respectful dialogue between all parties and try to remain open-minded about the feedback you and your child receive.

Focus on solutions and remember the bigger picture

When meeting with the other party to discuss the issue at hand, try not to get bogged down by finger-pointing and rehashing a problem. Clearly state the situation, your perspective on what has happened, and — most importantly — focus on solutions that could solve the problem.

While there are no magic cures for difficult situations, we can often arrive at an appropriate resolution by staying focused on the bigger picture.

It is a good idea to involve your child in the problem-solving stage. Resist the temptation to forge ahead alone and fix this problem for him or her. While this is a very normal impulse, it can actually have the unintended effect of limiting your child’s ability to self-advocate. Instead, collaborate with your student and the other parties to help him or her gain the skills to solve problems independently in the future.

Communication is key

At American Heritage School, we are committed to supporting our families and students. If you are facing a situation that you feel requires your intervention, please do not hesitate to contact our guidance department or your child’s instructor.

You can reach us at (561) 495-7272 or contact us online to set up a tour and see for yourself why American Heritage School is a great environment for your child to grow.