So, how can I.D. help those of us who take on this often tough, though thankfully also rewarding role.
Well, the good news is that I.D. can give you lots of insights into what your children need to perform at their best and that includes what you can do to get them through one of their biggest life challenges their time at school. When we talk about performing at their best here, we dont just mean getting good grades. We also mean young people developing the confidence and self esteem essential to their healthy emotional development of even greater importance when it comes to leading a meaningful and enriching life and learning the skills they will ultimately need to be the leaders of tomorrow.
In this article, we look at strategies for helping our children perform their best in school. The questions we address are:
How will my Childs Instinctive Drives Affect their Performance at School?
The Swanson children: Joe 16, Emily 14 and Lucy 10 all go the same school. The teachers often comment how different they are both in personality and in their academic performance. Joe seems to fly by the seat of his pants, handing in assignments last minute, occasionally getting in trouble for being disruptive in class and frustrating his more conscientious schoolmates with his achievement of great grades. Emily couldnt be more different, she does quite well but puts a lot of time and effort in and is very hard on herself when she doesnt achieve all As and Bs. Her science grade particularly suffered this year when she had a series of stand-in teachers covering for the regular teachers sick leave. Although she has some close friends, group assignments are obviously a challenge for Emily, especially if shes not in a group with those of a similar ability. In contrast again her sister Lucy is much less diligent and often switches off completely in lessons, which reflects in her grades. However, Lucy gets really excited by field trips and usually produces her best work when she has to write up these events. The teachers love her because she puts her hand up to volunteer for just about everything and she joins in most after school activities.
I.D. will explain your childs motivations and unique talents and vulnerabilities. There are many influences that will affect how these play out throughout their schooling – not least of all your own I.D., parenting style and hopes and expectations for your child. The culture of the education system and the behaviours of teachers and peers will also contribute to the extent to which the learning environment meets the particular needs of your childs I.D. and the nature of the challenges they face operating within it. We certainly know that no particular I.D. is going to guarantee your childs success. However, with the right strategies in place, to which you, as a parent, can make a significant contribution, I.D. can assist all children on their journey to the achievement of their full potential.
How will my own Instinctive Drives Affect my Children?
Its the end of school year and exam preparation time in the Swanson household. David and Linda are doing their best to get Joe 16, Emily 14, and Lucy 10 through this challenging period but things are beginning to get heated! Davids mostly concerned about Joe. Hes done really well throughout the year despite little visible effort but father and son had a bit of a row when Joe showed no interest in Davids idea of drawing up a study plan. Joe said hed prefer to take things day by day! David also cant believe that his wife, Linda, is so cool about Joe having friends round to study all the time. He completely understands their eldest daughter Emilys frustration at their rowdiness and loud music. He wasnt at all surprised to find her doing her homework in the laundry room the other day. She said it was the only place to get some peace and quiet! Linda fetched her out and said she was being ridiculous and that anyway she shouldnt be working so hard. Emily broke down in tears. Within minutes of this drama David managed to upset both Lucy and his wife by asking Lucy why shed only got a C+ for her last history assignment. Linda quickly pointed out that as she got a C last time, a C+ was therefore evidence of progress and couldnt he give their youngest daughter a little more encouragement? To sooth her injured little one, Linda attempted, uncharacteristically, to help with her maths homework. However, her youngest daughters inability to grasp the concept of percentages while also insisting Linda show the working out quickly sent her into a spin. Fortunately, big brother Joe, no doubt happy to interrupt his own study, stepped in and fetched his internet bank statement. He showed Lucy how the interest was calculated. Peace was, temporarily at least, restored to the Swanson household.
After doing the Instinctive Drives questionnaire as part of an initiative to improve his teams performance at work, David Swanson discovered he had the Instinctive Drive to Verify, the Instinctive Drive to Complete and that he was also driven to avoid the Instinct to Improvise. (7563) He had a call with a Link-up Consultant who explained his particular needs, talents and vulnerabilities and they discussed strategies in relation to some challenges David was facing at work. When David told Linda about the process she was fascinated, and not least of all intrigued to see if uncovering her motivations would shed any light on her and Davids occasional clashes. When she completed the Instinctive Drives questionnaire the couples biggest insight was around Lindas strong drive to avoid the Instinct to Verify. She also contrasted to David with her Instinct to Improvise. (2458) The couples thoughts soon turned from the impact they were having on each other to the impact, perhaps not always a positive one, they were having on their three, seemingly very different, children.
Within business, leaders play a significant role in shaping their teams and the performance of the individuals within it. This scenario plays out in a similar way within a family. While your intentions as a parent are to love and grow your children the following examples will give some insights into how your I.D. vulnerabilities may be impacting on them, particularly in areas relating to their schooling.
Instinctive Drive to Verify
Your need for things to be right and constantly improving may result in your child feeling that theyre never good enough e.g. when you focus on the one low mark on a report card, rather than the rest of the good ones; or focus on the improvement needed rather than the progress theyve made since last time.
Driven to Avoid the Instinct to Verify
Youre not naturally driven to give feedback and this may lead to them to thinking that you dont really care enough to show interest by getting involved, which, of course, will never be your intention.
Instinctive Drive to Authenticate
Your own drive to be hands on and to help e.g. with homework, may cause frustration when your child wants or needs to have a go on their own and work things out for themselves. Also, when they have to do it on their own, they wont really know how to.
Driven to Avoid the Instinct to Authenticate
Your need to leverage and use time as effectively as possible may lead to a hands-off approach to helping your child grow e.g. when they have a problem with their homework, you give them the essence of the solution without showing them how to apply it, which would make it real for them.
Instinctive Drive to Complete
Warning your child of the future consequences, both real and imagined, of not doing well at school may place a heavy burden on them and demotivate rather than inspires them. Similarly, imposing a detailed long-term study plan on them, of the kind that would work for you, may not be what will work best for them.
Driven to Avoid the Instinct to Complete
Your changing the plan may be confusing or frustrating for them e.g. if theyve planned to study for the evening and you propose, at the last minute, a family evening out.
Instinctive Drive to Improvise
Your need to create an impact may impose undue pressure on them to produce brilliant results. Also, they may perceive you as not being serious enough about things and having too much fun with things that are serious to them.
Driven to Avoid the Instinct to Improvise
Your seriousness about school issues, given your need to separate work from play, may not provide the stimulation, encouragement and fun they need to actively engage in their studies.
So what strategies can I use with my Child to help them Perform at their best?
Awareness of the vulnerabilities of your own I.D. is just the first step. Knowing your childs I.D. is the next. Once you have discovered your childs I.D. you can use your awareness of your own vulnerabilities, in conjunction with your new knowledge of your childs needs, to apply strategies that will help them to perform at their best. Generally your approach should be to focus on the results they achieve as opposed to the process they follow to get there. However, also think of the family as a whole – getting 100% on a test by studying until 2am with the music all the way up may be a great result for an individual child, but not so great for everyone else in the family!
Linda and David Swanson spoke with the Link-up Consultant and decided that Joe and Emily would be comfortably able to complete the Instinctive Drives questionnaire but that it was too early yet for Lucy. They talked around Lucys improved performance at school when she could see the application of theory to real life and explored ways in which they could further help show her the links between the two. When, at last, they were able to pin down Joe for the 20 minutes required, and ensure that Emily understood there were no wrong or right answers to the questionnaire, they were able to discover their childrens Instinctive Drives. David was surprised to find that Joe shared his Instinctive Drive to Verify but less surprised by his drive to avoid the Instinct to Complete and the fact that he shared his mothers Instinct to Improvise. (6438) Emilys Instinctive Drives were very similar to Davids but her Instinct to Complete was much more intense. (7483)
Your childs Instinctive Drives
Instinctive Drive to Verify
Give them feedback the good things and areas for improvement be specific and provide examples.
If you want them to do something, give them the purpose behind your request. Always be prepared to answer the question: why? and remember that because I said so wont help to engage them in what it is you want them to do.
Be aware of their need for fairness. This can play out if there are brothers or sisters e.g. if someone is rewarded for good behaviour and they arent – theyll be acutely aware of it.
Encourage them to celebrate success as even a 95% test score will have them focusing on the 5% thats wrong – help them to measure their progress rather than what they still dont know or havent achieved yet.
Driven to avoid the Instinct to Verify
When giving them feedback e.g. in relation to how theyve been doing at school, focus on what they can do and think about next time they have a test or work on an assignment, rather than dwelling on what they did last time that wasnt so great such as not studying or doing enough research.
If theyve done something youre unhappy with therell be no need to explain the impact – theyll get it so dont overload them with detail and more examples as this only deflates their self-esteem; they get it, so move on and focus on fixing it.
Give them loads of positive encouragement – theyll thrive on it -catch them doing the right thing.
They wont always be able to explain why theyve behaved in a particular way. If you do need to get further information from them be aware that simply firing questions at them wont help, it will just close them down. Try and get a dialogue going e.g. Tell me a bit more about what happened?
Instinctive Drive to Authenticate
If youre frustrated by their delivery of the bare minimum e.g. when it comes to them tidying up their room or completing an assignment, this may be a result of their literal interpretation of your request rather than laziness on their part. For example, when they just stuff things under their bed and say their room is clean, dont get angry, explain that when you say clean you mean
(list all the criteria).
Recognise that when you say to your child that they will be rewarded in some way e.g. for hard work or improvement, whether you have used the word promised or not, it will be considered a verbal contract. This will also work the other way around so you can seek to make contracts with them in connection with behaviours at home, study time etc.
Wherever possible show how learning and projects at school apply to real life and can be practical and useful e.g. asking them to help you evaluate which new car would be most cost effective on petrol, or showing them how an environmental issue they are studying is affecting the area they live in by going on a family visit.
Driven to avoid the Instinct to Authenticate
Spend time understanding what their passions are and show them how time spent studying and doing certain activities may assist them to fulfill those passions both now and in the future.
Always give your child the benefit of the doubt e.g. when you hear their explanation about their involvement with an incident at school or their reasons for not doing something as requested. Tell them you know their intention was right but show them how the perception that others have may be different and what the consequences of this may be.
Instinctive Drive to Complete
Your child will need time and space to focus on their study which can be a challenge when there are other siblings. Help them find quiet time where they know they will be free from interruptions. Even make it a family rule e.g. between 6.00pm and 7.00pm that no one is to interrupt them.
Be aware that when you change your plans your child will need to make adjustments to their own plan e.g. If you told them dinner would be at 7.30pm and now need to have it at 7.00pm because something came up, be aware that this will represent a lost half hour of their plan. While you may just see it as dinner being 30 minutes earlier, they may need help to put this into perspective and so to avoid a mild panic over the change.
Help them work out contingencies for where things may not play out as they originally planned. For example, they may have intended to study on a Saturday morning but the family had surprise visitors. Helping your child build catch up time into their study schedule will take away the worry and allow them to enjoy such unexpected events. Also apply this thinking to bigger life challenges such as expectations around final examination grades. In case they dont achieve the grades needed for their preferred course at their first choice college, help them create a workable Plan B and Plan C. This will enable them to put their energies and focus into doing well as opposed to worrying about the consequences of not doing as well as hoped.
Driven to avoid the Instinct to Complete
Short term interruptions when studying will be OK but to help them get back to what theyre doing quickly before you interrupt ask them where theyre at e.g. what bit are you working on right now?
then interrupt this will allow them to quickly return to the same point.
Ask them their goals for tonights homework, but dont expect them to be on track according to your schedule. Dont hold them to where they will be by dinnertime, hold them only to where they will be by the end of the night they may juggle between several pieces of homework, because they work best in this way, and so may have finished none of them by dinnertime but all of them by the end of the evening.
If you have several children give them rewards or encouragement that reflect their particular interests and special talents rather than doing exactly the same for all of them. Look to be fair in that each child is rewarded equally but tailor rewards to the uniqueness of each child.
Yes, they can really do their homework with the radio on!
Instinctive Drive to Improvise
Talk things through with them e.g. how theyre thinking of approaching a particular assignment brainstorming, whether with you or their peers, will help them come up with their best ideas, its how they think.
Encourage them to study with friends who also work best in this way let them have friends over to the house to study and when you do this, hold them accountable to the end goal and not the process of getting there. They will have fun studying this way but it doesnt mean theyre not working.
They perform at their best when theyre finishing assignments at the 11th hour and cramming up to the last minute for tests, again, hold them to the results and not the process.
Constantly celebrate with them, whether thats finishing something, achieving something, or just getting through something!
Driven to avoid the Instinct to Improvise
Recognise your childs need to separate work from play and that they will perceive an element of struggle as an acceptable and essential part of achieving something worthwhile.
Tell them that you can see the effort and hard work that they are putting into their studies – regardless of the results it will keep them motivated towards achieving a better result.
Ensure that they also make the most of the other non-academic/social opportunities that school can provide letting them chose the activities that they enjoy rather than the ones you think would be good for them.
Things have changed a bit in the Swanson household, especially around end of school year exam preparation time! Its certainly not all plain sailing but the family found that some ground rules around study have certainly helped the children to perform better at school and everyone to get less stressed. To begin with, hard though it is, David is learning to accept that Joe really does perform at his best last minute and under pressure. He also knows that Joe needs to juggle between subjects and assignments to maintain his motivation but that he can occasionally let a ball drop. At the end of each evenings study David and Joe spend 10 minutes talking through what Joes covered that night. David also helps Joe break down the subjects he finds boring into manageable chunks and thinks up ways to make them revising more interesting for him, even setting up a Who Wants to be a Millionaire style science quiz for him and his friends. Joe in turn keeps the music to a reasonable volume when his friends are round, which is now happens on a rota basis with him going round to their house more often than before. Between 6.30pm and 7.30pm theres a no music rule (or rather headphones only) and Emily is to be uninterrupted. When there are changes at school, such as in the teaching staff, David and Linda talk these things through with Emily to help her keep the consequences in perspective. They also do a lot more celebrating of the childrens successes including any progress made, and not just of academic successes but across all the activities theyre involved in. Lucy cant wait to discover her Instinctive DrivesTm. In the meantime the Swansons are delighted that a new biology teacher has inspired her to take up gardening so that she can see first hand how plant biology really works!
We are often asked what the best age is for a child to complete the I.D. Questionnaire. There are two things that need to exist for a child to do their I.D. and in order for it to then be valid.
They need to be able to understand the questions;
They need to have had enough life-experience that they understand what their way is.
Typically a child needs to be at about high-school age (around Year 7 or age 13) in order for the questionnaire to make sense. There will be some children who even in their teenage years may struggle to understand the questions and may not be fully aware of what their way is. Indeed, some adults even have that frustration. Or, conversely, a child in primary school may be very bright and have a good sense of self and so would capable of doing their I.D.