If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I don’t have kids of my own, and that doesn’t look likely to change soon.
But I’ve learned a lot from other peoples’ kids.
I’ve been working with kids for years, as a youth pastor, a scout leader, and a teacher. And whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a grandparent, or whatever, there’s a lot to know. Yeah, teachers go to school to learn to teach, but most of this stuff, you just have to learn the hard way, by failing and being a crappy teacher for a while.
I’ve heard it’s the same for parents.
And with a new school year up and running, I’m hoping I’m more prepared than ever with the knowledge your kids (or some like them) have armed me with.
Here’s what I’ve learned from teaching your kids.
Sarcasm Doesn’t Translate
You probably know I am a connoisseur of sarcasm. It’s like fine wine to me: dry and pleasing in its subtle complexity. But I’ve learned the hard way that it gets lost in translation with kids, and just sounds mean. Kids don’t like dry wine, they like kool-aid. I’ve had to apologize to kids for words that came out wrong, which is never a good thing. And the kids who do develop a taste for sarcasm have some of the worst attitudes on the planet. Keep sarcasm away from the kiddos.
I Hate Discipline…
I’ve never gotten to spank a child, but parents always say it hurts them more than it does the child.
I think I believe that now. Discipline all around is painful. I don’t like being the mean teacher. I’d rather be fun. And let’s face it, coming up with consequences is a pain in the neck. I’d rather just go to recess.
…But It’s Necessary
There’s a philosophy that kids always learn better from encouragement and positive feedback, rather than discipline and negative feedback. I used to want to believe it. I wish it were the case. But sometimes, no matter how much I try to gently redirect, coax or encourage, sometimes, the only thing a kid will listen to is the swift hammer of justice…always followed by forgiveness and encouragement.
Am I Okay?
When kids are throwing fits, it’s easy to dish it back at them. But “easy” isn’t the right way to do it. Teaching art class is the discipline of being heavily bombarded with chaos for a full hour at a time…then being bombarded by another army of children for another hour. Whatever happens, it never pays to lose your cool.
Kids are Mean…
For all the nice things I’ve said about kids, teaching has done one thing to my attitude about them. It has made me seriously reconsider the “age of accountability.” Most people think it’s about ten or twelve. It’s much lower. Kids can be mean, nasty, disrespectful, hurtful little turds, and they are accountable for it. Maybe your child is a precious angel at home, but some of you parents would be horrified if you could see a videotape of your kids at school.
…But They Make You Try Harder
I can’t think of any boss who could be as motivating as children. Seriously, no matter how many loopholes I close in my plans, kids always find a new one. They ask questions out of left field that you aren’t prepared for. They defy expectations. They make you feel like an idiot by destroying all your well-laid plans without blinking an eye.
Some jobs you master, and can never get “better” at. Parents and teachers always have room for improvement.
What about you? What have you learned from your own children, or other peoples’ children?