Large Boxes and Squiggly Lines

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

Do you have a kids who is a "non-conformist"?

As difficult as that may be for you, here are some things to consider.

Every so often, I get a swift kick from the "powers of the universe" -- this was one of those weeks.

What happened?

1. An article appeared in my inbox written by Robert Kyosaki (Rich Dad) titled Why You Should Encourage Kids To Be Rule Breakers;


It was my used-to-be-rule-breaking son's birthday, and

3. I had a call from a concerned parent about her son - who had a difficult year in and out of school along the same lines.

The common thread? All three were, in a round-about way, about kids not being "successful" according to the norms.

And this is what I have to say about that:

When anyone asks how my "kids" (in quotes because they are grown) are doing, my standard answer is "Within normal limits. But my box is big and my lines are squiggly."

It seems that the more some are championing the rights of people to be "different", the smaller our boxes get. Our definitions of "different" are circumscribed.

For education, the markers are clear and seem to be set in stone - the process is not considered, only the final product. An "A" is good, "B" may be acceptable. "C" is average (OMG! not average! - one of the worst things you can tell a parent is that their child is average). Nothing else will do. "D's or "F's" - Oh the horror!

Here's the thing. Grades don't measure creativity, sensitivity, resiliency, motivation, curiosity, personality, humor, enthusiasm, self-awareness, empathy, compassion, leadership, resourcefulness, and a host of other qualities needed to excel in life.

You cannot look at someone and tell how old they were when they first walked. Nor can you tell what grade they got on any test they took in elementary school.

In order to build confidence and self-esteem in our children, we need to stop shining the spotlight on what's "wrong" and celebrate their accomplishments. Step back and let your kids take more responsibility for their schoolwork. Setting up good habits early will follow them throughout their school career - and end a ton of arguments.

Let's hear it for the kids who color outside the box.

Let's widen our boxes and squiggle our lines a little more. Let's celebrate and nurture our kid's inherent qualities, not just grades. Education is a process, not a product. Our children are not finished products but, rather, works in progress.

And, like my son, they just might surprise you and grow into confident, happy, successful adults.

"So what am I supposed to do when I see their grades are slipping or not up to par?" you ask. "Am I just suppose to sit back and watch them fail?"

It's natural to want to help your kids get good grades - but it's hard to know how much and when, and how to help. Baby steps make a difference. Start by setting aside a specific time (or several times throughout the day) for them to do their work and make them responsible for getting it done. No other activities - TV, electronics, phone, etc. - until it's done. Be close by but busy with your own work during this time. If they ask for help - ask questions and listen to their answers.

In about two weeks' time, you'll notice a marked difference in the way things get done in your house.

So, is your kid the perfect student or do you have a rule breaker? Where does he/she excel? How big is your box? I'd love to hear from you.