Counselor’s Corner – October 2013
It feels wonderful to be back at St. Hugo for another year! I don’t think I realized how “hug deprived” I was over the summer until I saw some of the smiling faces of your kids at the book sale before school began! I was also able to meet a number of families that are new to St. Hugo at some of the events before the school year began, but I just want to make you aware, that as the school counselor at St. Hugo, I provide counseling to individuals and groups, on homework and studying tips, ADHD concerns, transition needs and a variety of emotional concerns. I would be happy to help your child with these and other concerns that are keeping him or her from being able to fully participate at school. You are welcome to stop in anytime and let me know how I can hep!
I will be starting up Project T.E.A.M. in the next few weeks for our 7th and 8th graders that can get up at the crack of dawn and join in on the action. I’ll be coming into all the classrooms to describe the group to your 7th or 8th grader soon. We will also begin a weekly lunch group with the 5th grade students late in the fall.
My “Parenting Tip of the Month” answers the question, “What can parents do if a child is struggling in school?” First, I would suggest talking directly to the teacher. Students sometimes give parents a rather lopsided view of what is going on at school. Teachers are happy to address your concerns via email or you can set up a meeting with them either before or right after school. Teachers can help you figure out how to better support your child to help them meet the challenges they face in this strong academic environment.
Many parents are also wondering about the wisdom of using reward systems, competition and punishment. I personally love the use of reward systems. However, it is important to realize that they don’t work for all kids. A good example is competition. The reality is, the only person motivated by competition is the person who thinks he has a chance of winning. Likewise, children that don’t believe they are capable of ever achieving the reward will eventually totally give up. All reward systems are based on the concept that the child can do it, he simply just chooses not to.
Punishment tends to be a very ineffective way to motivate kids. I recently read the following quote from Richard Lavoie, who creates many PBS videos, “To take the child’s favorite thing, whether it be a soccer ball or a skateboard, and take it away from him when he’s bad, that’s just poor human relations. Marriages break up over sex or money, and it’s because one spouse takes the thing that the other spouse wants and uses it to manipulate that person: “I’ll give it to you when you’re good, and I won’t when you’re bad.” Why would we think it works with kids?”
In general kids need compassion, but also consistent and structured discipline. It is really important that parents understand their child and listen to him, but at the end of the day, a parent is a parent and not a friend. Finally, I swear I’m not calling your adorable children dogs, but I think this quote from Cesar Milan works for kids too. He says, “Discipline isn’t about showing a dog who’s boss; it’s about taking responsibility for a living creature you have brought into your world.”
I hope you all have a wonderful and successful school year. Please stop by anytime!