Parenting a fifth grade child is hard. I’m Failing My Fifth Grader. Here’s Why with a little help from #TalkEarly. This is a sponsored post. All parent opinions are my own.
I’m Failing My Fifth Grader. Here’s Why
No one warns you about fifth grade. Parents warn you about the toddler tantrum years. The moody tween years. Even the dreaded teenage years. But fifth grade? How come no one prepared me to parent my fifth grader?
The transition year, at least that’s what the teachers say. Aka the hardest year of a child’s elementary school life.
Craving attention one minute. Ignoring you the next.
Won’t stop talking to you. Pulling teeth to get any words out.
Goofy silly. And in a flash, meltdown.
Toys and books. Replaced with sports and tech.
Snuggles and hugs. And then, rejection.
Between the physical changes (um, when did my son grow into a giant overnight?) and the hormonal ones (where the heck did this meltdown come from?), my fifth grader continues to keep me humble as parent. Aka, I STILL have no clue what I’m doing. No one prepares you for the roller coaster of emotions, hormones, the fight for control – or lack there of. Parents, fifth grade is hard – for you and your child. But it’s a crucial year too – a delicate balance that can make or break the teenage years ahead. And this year I’m deciding to let my child fail. But before you go all Rambo on me, here’s why.
Shifting Not Controlling
It’s the first year where I feel out of the loop, in more ways than one. New school. New school system. New baseball team. New teachers. New expectations. And the expectation is – parents are out of the cool club.
Give up control. Let them take responsibility for their actions. Trust them.
I don’t think teachers knew just how hard that would be, the responsibility shift from parent to child. How hard it is to not step in and try to take control. To make the world right again. To hold and cherish and keep them small. He’s only a child – I defend myself. He needs my help. But it’s a transition year. Shift. I no longer know everything going on in his classes. I can’t comprehend every item on his planner. I don’t have a daily email with what was learned and if my son was paying attention. I don’t even have the answers for his projects.
It’s going to be harder on us parents. Harder than on our kids. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Failing Not Succeeding
I heard the F-word over and over and over. No, not that one.
“If your child is used to getting A’s and B’s, be prepared for a year of F’s.” Fifth grade curriculum night. It’s a word that they told us over and over again. Failure.
My son is used to getting good grades. He expects them. But overwhelmed in the first week, he forgot his homework. My first instinct was to parent him. How could you forget? Why didn’t you check your planner? But now? He checks and double checks every day for his homework assignments. I don’t even have to remind him.
Failure is an important part of life. I don’t deny that. But I’d be lying if that wasn’t a hard word for this parent to swallow. Parenting a fifth grader through failure? Yes. Letting your child forget their homework. Allowing them to go to school unprepared for their test. Letting him learn from his own mistakes. Because he won’t learn any other way – no matter how many times I tell him. Experiencing life, falling down and learning to get back up again. Oh my heart.
Guiding Not Leading
Mom, how could you forget my planner? Mom, why did you forget my snack? Mom, why didn’t you tell me to study for this test? It’s easy, too easy to take the blame when our child forgets. After all, they look up to us to lead the way (when they’re not arguing that they know everything).
We are raising little humans in the hopes that one day, they will change the world with their goodness, integrity, honesty and grit. As much as we want to hold our child’s hand throughout this life journey (trust me, I’m having all sorts of issues with him NOT wanting to hold my hand these days), they’re not going to be able to do that still clinging to the end of our dresses.
Parenting a fifth grader, it’s about walking beside our kids, not in front of them. Guiding and not leading them through life – easier said than done. But one day they will have to lead their own way. Will they be prepared if you have been creating the path?
Listening Not Fixing
As a parent, we want to fix all of our child’s problems.
Forgot their lunch again? No worries, I can drive it in.
Left their homework behind? I can run it up.
Any other parents struggle with this too? Transitional year comes with the shift from fixing all of our children’s problems to just listening. And I admit, it’s hard for me to remember to close my mouth and not act. But thanks to my recent #TalkEarly summit (see video above), my desire to get him to open up starts with listening, not fixing. And the tips I received to get my fifth grader to open up has been such a great guide to deeper and more meaningful conversations:
- Is it truly a problem for your child or are you thinking it’s a problem?
- If it is a problem, ask open ended questions like “what kind of outcome do you want?” and “what steps should you take to solve the problem?”
- Respond to their “I don’t know answers” appropriately.
- Avoid interrogation style conversations. Don’t probe for pain or misery answers.
- Be present. As busy parents it’s easy to deflect conversations with our kids when life gets in the way. But you never know how much active listening can open the door to even deeper moments.
- Role model listening. Our kids cannot learn to be good listeners themselves if we are not emulating those qualities. Show empathy, friendship, and love through good listening.
- Stress is created by uncertainty. Help empower them to solve their own problem by coaching without controlling the situation with questions like “what have you tried?” and “what would you do next?” to unveil those uncertainties.
And Then, Letting Him Go
No one warns parents about fifth grade, the transition year. The hardest part? Learning to let go. The responsibility, the failing, the listening – it all culminates to this. Growing up. And I think that’s why parenting my fifth grader is so darn flipping hard. It’s the realization every day of how much I have to let him grow up and become the man I dream for him to become.
I am failing him every day. In more ways than one. But shifting my mindset so he can talk to me about ANYTHING in the years ahead, it’s worth it. Head over to Responsibility.org for more tips to raise our transitional fifth graders and great conversation starters for the family.
Am I Failing My Fifth Grader? What tips do you have for parenting this age?
I’ve been compensated as a #TalkEarly blogging ambassador for Responsibility.org for 2019. Even though this post is sponsored, I love the mission. All opinions are my own. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians for more parenting tips, easy family recipes, kids crafts and travel.