Cutting class may not be as bad as you think?
I know this may initially surprise you, but let me explain.
First, this is why we constantly share that we need to have an open relationship with our children where they can trust talking to us. That doesn’t mean we’re laissez-faire as parents, but that our children know we’re not going to lose our minds if they come to us.
When they trust they can talk with us openly about the easy conversations in life, they’ll feel more comfortable opening up about the tougher conversations.
For instance, take today’s podcast.
Intentional Teen founder Christina Ellis shares a personal story of a time she found out her daughter skipped class – behavior that was very out of character.
Her knee jerk reaction was, of course, anger, as it would be for most parents.
But instead of immediately launching into a lecture, she paused, took a deep breathe and started asking questions.
By remaining calm, Christina was able to have a rational conversation with her daughter and learned that her daughter skipped PE (a class she was good at and enjoyed). And she did it because the teacher had been particularly hard on one girl and so she and her friend sat with this girl in the locker room the entire class, supporting this other student who was having a hard time.
Christina went from being angry at her daughter to enormously proud of her for standing up for others, even when it was doing something that was “against the rules.”
Determining the Root Cause with the 5 Why’s
When our kids act in a way that’s out of character, there’s a reason.
And kids may not always open up about that reason right away, which is why it’s so important to ask good questions.
One way you can make it easy to ask questions is to use the “5 Why’s.” In its simplest form, it just means you’re asking “why” 5 times (or so) until you get to the root cause of the problem.
For example, your child comes to you and says they don’t want to go to school.
“Okay, but why don’t you want to go to school? Are you feeling okay?”
“I feel a little sick to my stomach.”
“Do you think you have the flu? Are you running a fever?”
“Why are you feeling sick then? Is something bothering you?”
“I’m just a little stressed about math class.”
“But why are you stressed about math? You’re doing okay in that class.”
“Well, there’s a standardized test we’re taking that period and the teacher has been talking about how important it is.”
“Are you worried about what will happen if it doesn’t go well?”
Obviously that’s just an example, and it may take 3 Why’s or 10 to get to the root cause of the issue. But once you do, THEN you can have a conversation that will impact how your child is feeling.
On the other hand, if you fly off the handle over the request to skip school, you’ll never get to the root cause of why. (The same is true if you just accept the “I’m sick” excuse and let it go.)
Conclusion: Cutting Class, The 5 Why’s & Trust
Cutting class is just one example, but the key is to pay attention to when our children’s behavior is out of character. It may be wanting to skip practice for their sport (that they love). It could be wanting to cancel on plans to spend time with friends.
Look for those moments when your child’s behavior is out of character and start asking questions and reserving judgement, regardless of the answers. The more calm you can remain, the more likely your child will be to come to you with the tough stuff.