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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 3:38 am | Fog/Mist 53º


Bill Cirone: Renewing Commitment to a Can-Do Spirit

As 2015 draws to a close, here is a tip for parents to consider as a new year begins: Turn the page on contentious encounters you may have had with your children since the beginning of the school year.

One frequent source of conflict between parents and children is homework. If children faced challenges with studying or with homework, both they and their parents will be well served by a mutual decision to let those memories fade.

They can use the holiday break to let go of those tensions. It really helps to start fresh.

Freedom from a burdensome past enables parents and children to approach challenges from a different perspective, which in turn can lead school children to better performance and, more importantly, increased motivation to do even better.

It is a lot easier to focus on how to move forward without all that baggage.

It helps, too, if parents remember to love their children for who they are, not who they want them to be. Children need space to grow, to succeed, and even to fail.

Learning from failure is a vitally important component of the maturing process, because it strengthens resilience — a trait that is very difficult to teach but often makes the difference between success and failure in the future.

If discipline is necessary, it is important that children know their parents disapprove of what they did, not who they are.

These approaches help redirect negative behavior and channel energy in a far more productive direction. Plus, time and again it’s been proven that fear and despair can sap a child’s ability to do well and that a positive attitude can enable a child to stretch to higher levels of performance.

Adults, like children, will also benefit from letting go of negative experiences that have drained their energy. Starting over with renewed enthusiasm can also apply to interactions with schools and teachers and even with school district policies and procedures.

Think of the powerful energy a positive approach can send to all involved, helping forge better relationships and stronger partnerships.

There is a feeling of renewal that comes from letting go of problems from the past and making peace with the challenges that lie ahead. For both young and old alike, in all sorts of circumstances, it’s an approach that can make real progress possible.

As we approach a new year, let us all resolve to move forward together in an effort create the best possible outcomes for our children and families. It is well worth the effort, and can help make 2016 a very good year for all. 

— Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County’s superintendent of schools. The opinions expressed are his own.

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