Tim Jarvis’s workshops at Proudly Primary 2019 have been hugely popular, perhaps as many teachers already follow and enjoy his blog ‘There’s a Hadeda in my Garden’. His topic of the talk was ‘No, your Child is not Gifted’ and he shared a highly relevant perspective on today’s parents, how they are feeling, how they are parenting, and how this affects teachers.

There is so much pressure in today’s society to be perfect – the perfect mother, the perfect child, the perfect family. Parenting has become a performance. Parents feel that they have got to get their children achieving and many parents are now ‘helicopter parents’ or ‘hyper-parents’. There is immense cultural pressure to be a hyper-parent. And yet the negative consequences of this type of parenting are being seen in rising anxiety levels in children and an increasing number of children who think the world revolves around them and therefore are ill-equipt to deal with life beyond the home.

Tim Jarvis suggests a different approach to raising children, in which the emphasis is on teaching the importance of being significant, not the importance of success. A single achievement is minor versus a life of significance and positive impact in the world. He suggests that understanding these five concepts below is key:

1. Unconditional acceptance. Your child is unique but also ordinary. Parents are overly monitoring their children which doesn’t give them space to stuff things up and try to fix it themselves. Have a little less ambition for yourself and your children. Be dull and plan nothing and see what happens.

2. Let them own it. Let children choose extra murals themselves, or to not do them. Don’t overschedule them. Let children explore whether they like things for themselves, without the interference of parent feedback or reactions.

3. Praise effort, not outcomes. Take a growth mindset. Take your time… don’t focus on short term results. Teach a child that you are not really special unless you work hard to accomplish something.

4. Cheer like a grandparent, not a parent. Children’s worst sports memories are the drive home after the game. Offer more support, and less advice.

5. Build resilience. Emotional fibre comes from doing things you don’t want to do – this is important. Children build character by having to do something that is contrary to their natural impulse. Creating discomfort is good. Don’t shield children from it.

Tim encouraged everyone, teachers and parents alike, to take a long term view. It’s not about the next team or test. As a teacher, you are a part of a child’s story. It is a long term process, don’t try to rush it.

Thank you for your words of wisdom and inspiration, Tim!

Read Tim Jarvis’ blog on this topic here.