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Beating the Odds

When Your Child Has a Poor Teacher

If you knew for sure that your child was going to get either a teacher with a great reputation, or a teacher with a poor one, what would you do?

Dr. Steve Kussin recently discussed this very thing on WCBS NewsRadio 88 in New York.

Kussin said that 12 parents were gathered, all of them with a child headed to the same grade in the same school in September. All the children are certain to get one of the two teachers: excellent or poor.

Eleven of the 12 parents said they would do anything to ensure their child would get the more valued teacher.

One professed not to care.

Astonished at this viewpoint, the 11 challenged the one.

“Don’t you want the best for your child?”

“Yes,” replied the parent.

“Then why won’t you fight for the right teacher?”

“I will let the chips fall where they may,” the parent said.

“How can do you that?”

Then came the perfect answer to any parent who has badgered a coach or a teacher on behalf of a child.

“The most important skill I can give my child is the ability to deal with whatever is out there,” the parent said. “My child will have to cope with life as it is.”

Without knowing either that parent or the child, I predict that the child will do very well, far better than anyone who is shielded from life. In fact, helicopter parents are actually depriving their children of an essential life skill.

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy,” said Robert A. Heinlein, science fiction writer.

Besides depriving their children of a chance to deal with adversity, parents who rush to intervene may set a bad example. The book “Freakonomics” quotes a study that found children are more influenced by what parents are than by what they do. Parents who deal with life are teaching their children to do the same. Parents who avoid problems could well be teaching their children to do so.

How can children learn to beat the odds if odds are always in their favor?

“Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem,” said Virginia Satir, author and social worker.

So whether it’s school or sports, parents can do their children a favor by letting them deal with life.

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