Years ago, in preschool, a teacher sent my youngest child, Ainsley, to sit by herself until she was ready to talk about something she’d done wrong. She sat through circle time. She sat through snack time. She sat through recess and story time and music. It wasn’t until lunchtime that she finally decided to talk. The teacher was surprised by her determination. Me? Not so much.
Her grandmother, a former school principal, sought to reassure me: “You want a strong-willed child. Those are the ones who don’t follow their friends into trouble in high school.” That didn’t make me feel better when I faced off against this fiery little creature, who had strong opinions on everything from clothing to bedtime to whether carrot sticks should ever be on the same plate as apple slices.
New research, though, shows that grandma was right. A recently completed study, which tracked students from their late primary years until well into adulthood, found that kids who frequently break the rules or otherwise defy their parents often go on to become educational over-achievers and high-earning adults.
Children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old were evaluated for non-cognitive personality traits like academic conscientiousness, entitlement and defiance. Forty years later, researchers checked back to see how they turned out; rule breaking and defiance of parental authority turned out to be the best non-cognitive predictor of high income as an adult.
My little girl is going to be rich!
The study doesn’t explain why there is such a strong correlation between rule-breaking youngsters and high income in mid-life. The authors postulate that such children might be more competitive in the classroom, leading to better grades. They might be more demanding as adults; when locked in salary negotiations, they may be the ones who demand more. They may be more willing to fight for their own financial interests, even at the risk of annoying friends and colleagues. The authors can’t rule out a more negative reason— these young rule breakers might be doing something unethical as adults to increase their grown-up salaries.
So how do you know if your child is strong-willed?
Strong-willed kids have strong gut reactions that they’ll battle for even when it’s illogical, say professional therapists. They go after what they want at any cost.
Was grandma right, then? Is it good to have a strong-willed child?
Therapists say it’s true that strong willed kids are more willing to do what’s right, rather than what their friends are doing. If parents can motivate them and turn their drive to doing well at school or a real purpose, these kids can make motivated leaders who will do the right thing even if they have to do it solo.
This all sounds great to me. Who wouldn’t want their child to turn into a motivated leader who can afford to buy mom a beach house? But how do you get from here to there? How do you avoid spending the high school years battling with a child who is determined to win at all costs?
The same way you deal with any conflict situation: keep the lines of communication open. Listen to them. Ask them to explain their view. As they talk out what they think hey may catch their lack of logic. You may even find they win you over. And if they make a compelling case, negotiate.
You can even concede a few points, letting them try, say, staying out late, as long as certain conditions are met. And if they’re not, let them set some consequences in advance.
It’s hard to negotiate with a 5-foot-tall lawyer-to-be! Sometimes I want to put my foot down and fall back on the old “I’m the mom and I say so argument.” It may be that I’m a bit strong-willed myself.
But the next time my young negotiator comes at me with a plan for a later bedtime or a new iPad, I’ll take a deep breath and listen. If the study’s authors are correct, she will reap the benefits of this innate persistence as an adult. Every parent wants his or her child to grow into a successful adult, and this research shows my determined girl is on the right path. It’s just that sometimes adulthood seems a very long way off, indeed.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you’re hearing about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) right now. It’s also understandable if your children are feeling anxious, too. Children might find it difficult to understand what they are seeing online or on TV – or hearing from other people – so they can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness. But having an open, supportive discussion with your children can help them understand, cope and even make a positive contribution for others.
1. Ask open questions and listen
Start by inviting your child to talk about the issue. Find out how much they already know and follow their lead. If they are particularly young and haven’t already heard about the outbreak, you may not need to raise the issue – just take the chance to remind them about good hygiene practices without introducing new fears.
Make sure you are in a safe environment and allow your child to talk freely. Drawing, stories and other activities may help to open up a discussion.
Most importantly, don’t minimize or avoid their concerns. Be sure to acknowledge their feelings and assure them that it’s natural to feel scared about these things. Demonstrate that you’re listening by giving them your full attention, and make sure they understand that they can talk to you and their teachers whenever they like.
2. Be honest: explain the truth in a child-friendly way
Children have a right to truthful information about what’s going on in the world, but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress. Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety.
If you can’t answer their questions, don’t guess. Use it as an opportunity to explore the answers together. Websites of international organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization are great sources of information. Explain that some information online isn’t accurate, and that it’s best to trust the experts.
3. Show them how to protect themselves and their friends
One of the best ways to keep children safe from coronavirus and other diseases is to simply encourage regular handwashing. It doesn't need to be a scary conversation.
You can also show children how to cover a cough or a sneeze with their elbow, explain that it’s best not to get too close to people who have those symptoms, and ask them to tell you if they start to feel like they have a fever, cough or are having difficulty breathing.
4. Offer reassurance
When we’re seeing lots of troubling images on TV or online, it can sometimes feel like the crisis is all around us. Children may not distinguish between images on screen and their own personal reality, and they may believe they’re in imminent danger. You can help your children cope with the stress by making opportunities for them to play and relax, when possible. Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before they go to sleep, or help create new ones in a new environment.
If you are experiencing an outbreak in your area, remind your children that they are not likely to catch the disease, that most people who do have coronavirus don’t get very sick, and that lots of adults are working hard to keep your family safe.
If your child does feel unwell, explain that they have to stay at home/at the hospital because it is safer for them and their friends. Reassure them that you know it is hard (maybe scary or even boring) at times, but that following the rules will help keep everyone safe.
5. Check if they are experiencing or spreading stigma
The outbreak of coronavirus has brought with it numerous reports of racial discrimination around the world, so it’s important to check that your children are neither experiencing nor contributing to bullying.
Explain that coronavirus has nothing to do with what someone looks like, where they are from or what language they speak. If they have been called names or bullied at school, they should feel comfortable telling an adult whom they trust.
Remind your children that everyone deserves to be safe at school. Bullying is always wrong and we should each do our part to spread kindness and support each other.
6. Look for the helpers
It’s important for children to know that people are helping each other with acts of kindness and generosity.
Share stories of health workers, scientists and young people, among others, who are working to stop the outbreak and keep the community safe. It can be a big comfort to know that compassionate people are taking action.
7. Take care of yourself
You’ll be able to help your kids better if you’re coping, too. Children will pick up on your own response to the news, so it helps them to know you’re calm and in control.
If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people in your community. Make some time to do things that help you relax and recuperate.
8. Close conversations with care
It’s important to know that we’re not leaving children in a state of distress. As your conversation wraps up, try to gauge their level of anxiety by watching their body language, considering whether they’re using their usual tone of voice and watching their breathing.
Remind your children that they can have other difficult conversations with you at any time. Remind them that you care, you’re listening and that you’re available whenever they’re feeling worried.
July 16, 2020
Re: Changes to 2019 – 2020 school holidays
We sincerely thank you for your continued support during this unprecedented time period.
Due to the recent pandemic which has been impacting school activities, our campus will be closed on Monday, August 31, 2020 and Tuesday, September 1, 2020 instead of Wednesday, July 29, 2020 to Friday, July 31, 2020.
We apologize for the changes.
If you have any query, please contact the school office.