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Measure yourself against your own goals, not someone else’s


Measure yourself against your own goals, not someone else’s

July 15, 2020

There is something nice about spending time with your kids, but there is something extra nice about the extra 10%.

Last year, parents were invited to do reading with the kids during a morning (Imagine trying that now during COVID). Once a week I would go into my son’s class and do reading with the kids. For 40 mins a week, I sit with 1 child at a time, helping them to practice their reading and get their head around new words and increasingly complex sentences. Some kids were fantastic and streets ahead of others, and others were making great progress in and of themselves, but were perhaps not up to the standard of others.

Anyhow, reading with them is a really nice experience. The kids are excited to get time out of class, I get to help the kids and it feels pretty good to do something for others. However, recently, someone asked me if I did it as a way of keeping tabs on my son and how he was doing compared to others. It was a fair enough question I suppose, but the truth is, no, I do not go to keep tabs.

See, here’s the thing. Irrespective of how well I think other kids may be doing in one aspect of their development, there are a multitude of other aspects which I am not privy to, nor should I be. Sure, one child may be prodigious with their reading (there are a couple by the way), but I have no idea whether or not she’s good talking to other kids, or good at counting.  So, pushing my son based on one aspect fails to take into consideration multiple other aspects, inclusive of the fact each kid learns differently.

Everyone progresses at a different pace

Something I do know well (ok, relatively well) is my child. I know my son’s strengths and I know his (current) weaknesses. And measuring him by what little I know of others and their talents serves me only. It does nothing for my son. If he is not feeling inadequate and is happy, why should I force my goals on him or let him know he is lagging others. Conversely, if he is feeling that he is not as good as them, and I agree with him, I am perpetuating his belief which will lead to doubt and a spiral.

So, when we are confronted with a situation that he is unhappy with, for us, the trick lies in acknowledging what it is that is he wants to change. With that identified we provide:

  • Positive reinforcement (telling him that everyone develops at their own pace and that what he has achieved to date, or compared to a previous date is awesome)
  • Help to set his own goals which will stretch him (Giving him a vision for the future). We work to help him understand that you need milestones and work towards the smaller goals, not the large scary goal that seems ages away
  • Help to set a plan for how to achieve what HE wants (Giving him control over the pace).

We find this works much more productively compared to forcing him to read (or whatever it is) more in the hope he becomes more fluent. If we do force him it becomes an arduous process that changes something he enjoyed, to doing it because he “has to”. And when Kids HAVE TO, counterwill makes them do nearly the exact opposite, even if they know it is bad for them.

Ultimately, the key lies in giving him power. The power to understand the situation and the power to come up with a solution that works for him. And the same can be done for yourself, it doesn’t just apply to kids.

That said, the irony is, this may not work for you, after all, we all need to run our own race and find the motivation to get to our own finish line – wherever that may be.

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