Setting Standards for our Kids

How do we set the standard for our kids? How do we help our kids understand where the bar is? Some of us may look at grades, and we want our kids to be A students. What does it mean for our kids to be an A student? What does that “A” actually mean? What about the way that we clean our rooms? What about our hygiene routine? There are different standards that we have. The way that we wear our clothes, like what our clothes look like, what are the standards in your home? How are you helping your children understand that this is just a standard? Why is it important to have this standard? One of the things, especially when it comes to grades, is: why are A’s important to you? What is it? What are you making it mean? Does it mean that they’re above the rest? Does it mean that your kids are the best? Does it mean that you don’t have to worry? There’s no fear if they’re gonna  be failing or if they’re not going to get into college.

I would definitely explore first of all: What are you making it mean to you? Then I would ask your child and say, “What does it mean to you to have an A versus a B or a C?” As far as I know, it’s important for all of us that our kids have a bar that they can reach. We need to allow them to know what that bar even means—what does it mean to them? Taking grades as an example, if you find it important to have an A because you know that it means that they’re understanding the information, they’re putting the effort in, they’re following the rules to turn things in and get things done in the right order, and you want to celebrate that, it’s important to teach them that too—that’s what that “A” means, that an “A” doesn’t mean that I’m not going to love you. One of the reasons why kids don’t want to tell us stuff or tell us like, “Oh, here’s my report card.” is because I remember when I was little, if I didn’t have an A or B on my report card, I was so afraid to tell my mom because I was going to get in trouble.

When I think back, it’s not about the fear of getting into trouble; it’s about disappointing my mom and creating more stress or  agitation for her. I would get into trouble and then be over it. I would get spanked, I would get grounded, and then I’d be over it. It was the long-term effect of that and how it made me feel. How do we negate that in our kids now? One of the things that I do with my kids is ask them, “What does that grade feel like to you? Are you happy with it? What does it mean to you?” I also allow them to anchor that feeling in when they get hundreds on their little math quizzes, spelling tests, or whatever. What does it feel like to have that “A”? Doesn’t it feel great? What does it mean to have that A? What does it mean about you to have that A? 

So at least they know what it feels like when they get their report card and it’s not an A, and maybe they are disappointed. What would that A mean to you, and what does that B mean to you? What would you have to do to get that B to an A or that C to an A? Sometimes, like my son says, “Well, I don’t know; can you ask the teacher?” What I tell him is, “You’re in fifth grade. You need to ask the teacher. It’s your grade.” I want my kids to take ownership of their grades because they put the effort into studying and doing the work, and they got the grade that they chose to go for. However, if they’re having a challenge — my daughter has a challenge in math — and I know that she puts an effort in, I know that she can do better as well, however, when she’s putting the effort in and she’s doing what she can and the teachers are saying, “No, she puts an effort in. I see her studying. I see her doing it.” and she’s still not getting more than an A, it’s time for me as a parent to say, “Okay, what can I do to support her in getting a better grade?”

C definitely reflects that she’s just not getting it, like she’s not understanding it. It doesn’t mean that she’s a bad student; it doesn’t mean that she didn’t put in an effort; it doesn’t mean that she’s worse than anybody else. It’s taken away the judgment, it’s taken away from the comparison, and it’s seeing your child for who they are and what support they need. What I did was get my daughter some help with her spelling and teach her how to comprehend things by putting words together and knowing what their words mean. Guess what? It’s definitely helped her in math because she’s able to read those word problems now and understand and comprehend the word problems better.

There’s more to a grade than just seeing if they’ve done well or poorly. It’s really going into the meaning, and I’m just using grades as an example. When I talk about cleaning their room, it’s about the standard of cleanliness. Have you gone in there with them and cleaned the room with them so they can see, “I want you to look at your bed. I want you to look at your dollhouse. I want you to look at your desk and your cabinets. What do you notice about it? What’s clean about it? Is it dust-free? Is everything put away? Does everything have a home?” I want her to know, “What does that feel like to have a room that’s clean? What does it feel like to go to sleep in a room that’s uncluttered and clean? Does it feel fresh to you? That’s the standard. Our standards are developed by the parents’ guidance, and they’re also developed when we can allow them to feel what that standard is.

I invite you to ask yourself, how are you setting the standard for your kid? How is your child responding to that standard? Are they adopting that standard as their own so they’re constantly reaching for that next level because, when we know that there’s a next level, it’s something we know that there’s still growth in? One of my mentors has always said, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” How are we helping our kids to always meet that standard and raise the bar? If you’ve reached that standard, what’s the next one, and how would that look? So I’d invite you to investigate in your own family: how are you setting the standards? How are your kids adapting to it? How are you implementing it?

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