Parenting

Parenting

  “Whenever I hear someone flip the page, I kinda panic.  I worry that I am behind, and that’s when I start rushing.”     I hear this sentiment frequently on the ACT, SAT, and, especially, the SSAT.  The angst is understandable.  It’s just not helpful.  Let’s look at why kids rush, why it’s not helpful, and what we can do to help.
Getting lost used to be more common. Just 10 or 15 years ago, before we could rely on our phones and satellites to keep track of us, we had to keep track of ourselves. And we did so imperfectly. At least, my friends and I did. Often, we’d plod along until we registered something recognizable – the Citgo sign by Fenway Park in Boston, that blue doored seafood restaurant, the bridge we crossed earlier in the day – and we would accommodate that new information. Or we would find our way to a map and orient ourselves.  
                                              Like Dogs?   “The dog is imitating the energy that is in your bubble. You are the source, the feast of energy. If you feel anxious, the dog becomes anxious with you. If you become nervous, the dog wakes up nervous with you.”
I recently had lunch with my friend Fred, whose daughter (now out of college) attended the same school where my son just started 9th grade. I asked him whether he had any advice for my son about having a successful freshman year. “Nope,” he replied, “no advice for your son. I do, however, have advice for the parents of a 9th grader. Would you like to hear it?” When I nodded my assent, he offered, “Keep your own counsel.”  
Downtime Is Not Wasted Time – SAT Prep vs. Self-Prep:
Self-concept matters.  A psychologist friend points out that we are constantly acting consistent within our sense of ourselves. If you think you are a jock, you will act like a jock. Have a choice to watch football or an opera? You’ll likely choose the Redskins (good luck!). Think of yourself as preppy? You’re like to choose madras over black, even if you secretly think the Goth look is, well, pretty cool. It’s not who you think you are.
I entered my teenage years as my parents' marriage unraveled. Over two brutal years, the usual flood of emotions that occurs with adolescence overwhelmed me as I watched my parents turn on each other. I fell from being the top student in my school into a hole of dysfunction and depression that took me another two years from which to recover. Happily for me, with time situations improved, stress decreased, my grades returned, and I "got back to normal."
Sitting in the hallway of a local school waiting for a student of mine to arrive, I overheard a girl saying she has never been so scared in her life. Her SAT is tomorrow she is telling her friend. She is recounting all the reasons why she is unprepared, how she doesn't have enough time, and that she's sure to crash. Her friend asks her about her preparation and what work she has done. Yeah, well, she acknowledges, still it's going to be a train wreck.
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