Whether it’s a casual remark tossed aside by a childcare provider or an earnest discussion with a teacher or coach, there’s nothing quite as painful as hearing negative feedback regarding your child’s intellect, developmental pace or abilities. Everyone wants to believe that their child is Mary-Poppins “practically perfect in every way,” but that’s simply not the case. Children, just like adults, have their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Before you allow a poor evaluation to upset you and spoil your attitude, it’s wise to look for a course of action that will be both productive and reassuring.
Be Honest With Yourself
When you hear a teacher or childcare provider openly discuss a weakness that you know your child possesses, your natural instinct may be to cling to denial. It’s important to remember, though, that denying a problem exists will not make it go away. The first step to proactive and productive problem management is to accept the news you know is true, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear. After all, how will you begin to go about correcting an issue if you refuse to acknowledge it out of pride and fear?
The news that your child has not reached developmentally appropriate milestones for her age, that she may be exhibiting signs of a learning difference or that there are signs of a burgeoning behavioral problem is never easy to hear. Rather than tuning out when the negative words are spoken, force yourself to listen carefully to the assessment you’re receiving. You won’t be able to provide your child with the help that she needs if you’re too upset or afraid to listen closely, ask the appropriate questions and engage in a dialog with the professionals providing the evaluation. You also don’t want to jump to conclusions, falling under the misapprehension that the situation is far worse than it actually is, simply because you stopped listening when the conversation took a turn for the negative.
Focus on the Positive
You may learn that your child is struggling with her reading skills, or that he has a behavioral disorder that will make it difficult for him to thrive in a traditional environment. Rather than latching on to the negative aspects of a poor evaluation, try the old trick of looking on the bright side. Do what you can to mitigate the effects of a poor evaluation on you and your child by celebrating her strengths. Focusing on more positive aspects of an evaluation doesn’t mean that you’re ignoring the negative issues at hand, only that you’re keeping her positive progress in perspective, too.
Know When to Seek Help
All too often, parents faced with a negative progress report or a poor evaluation of their child’s abilities will be so entrenched in their avoidance of the issue that they resist finding professional help. In the long run, the only person that’s being harmed by this avoidance is your child. If educators or medical professionals advise consultation with a specialist, don’t allow your pride to stand in the way of your child getting the help she needs. Work with those educators and medical professionals to determine what she needs in order to thrive to the best of her abilities, rather than sweeping the issue under the rug or trying to deal with it alone.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
When you’re faced with the news that your child is not progressing at the same pace of his peers or that there are indicators of a developmental delay, it’s important to understand that this negative assessment is not necessarily a reflection of your abilities as a parent. If you’re actively working with your child and are providing a safe environment in which she can learn and play, you’re doing a great job as a parent. Realizing that a poor evaluation is not a personal affront to you, your parenting abilities or the parenting style you’ve chosen is essential. When you blame yourself for things that are absolutely not your fault, you’re only wasting energy that could be more productively applied in the area of helping your child to flourish in her own way. Rather than blaming yourself, your spouse or your environment, spend time looking for the most effective ways of boosting your child’s abilities.