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Be the Change You Want: Advocating for your Child

I’m not going to lie and claim I am the expert at advocating for my children. The truth is, I tend to tread lightly with others because I personally believe I can’t make anyone do what I want. Change can only happen when a person feels ready, willing and able to make the change. I therefore try to determine solutions collaboratively with others to help them be ready, willing and able to do what they want as a mutual response to the problem we share.

I think back when my son was in kindergarten. He has a very sensitive soul and was disturbed that the boys all seemed to want to play zombie games. Each day he gave me reports of his discomfort and sadness at recess. With him I tried to get a sense of what he would want to do with other children instead of playing zombie games.

We finally came up with what I thought was a realistic adaptation. I suggested to the teacher that I would donate a chest of pretend props that would hopefully encourage children to engage in more enriched and varied playground play. I based this recommendation on my real-world experience and understanding not only of my son, but also what it is like to be a teacher supervising children at recess. Even so, the teacher essentially shot my idea down. My regret isn’t the suggestion, it was how I made the suggestion.

I shouldn’t have asked permission to donate a chest full of playground props, rather I should have donated them and then asked permission to be there for a few days to help the children get used to having them and most importantly take ownership of them.

A school is like a closed system. Closed systems tend to resist change, not because they are cruel or lack feeling, but because they are tasked with a major mission in live action time. I appreciated that as a parent, but what I learned from this kindergarten experience was that if I wanted change, I needed to be the change I wanted to see. In other words, I needed to make it happen through actions not by asking permission.

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