Kids are frequently told a lot that they need to be doing their “personal best.”
Doesn’t that seem like an unfair standard? Are you doing your “personal best?”
If I were honest about it (and I would like not to be), I think I have failed at my personal best every day of my life.
Look, I get it.
We want kids to put forth good effort and to pay attention (all the time) and do all of those tasks we want them to do. When they start to fall off track we get worried about what it means and whether they have some type of disorder.
Kids have different agendas than adults.
Their agendas are mostly driven by pleasure – that is, they want to have fun any way they can, whether it is with video games, going on Instagram to see who’s up to what, texting their friends, or running around outside (some still do that).
In other words, they are looking to blow through their school work as fast they can and be done with it so that they can be engaged with an activity that is giving them pleasure.
Huck Finn talks about adults trying to “sivilize” him. (I know I go back to Huck a lot for guidance and inspiration.)
As Huck noted:
The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn’t stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went back…. But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.
Join a band of bank robbers? Running away from being civilized?
Huck and Tom were certainly not doing their “personal best.” In fact, if they were living in the present day, they would not be allowed back in school without a clearance from a psychiatrist.
Kids are kids. At their core they are pleasure seekers. Children have always been this way. Personal best is probably an unfair concept. It’s the rare kid who is doing his personal best ever day.
“Sivilzing” kids is tough work. They have other agendas.
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