We don’t look at milestones the same way children do. For us, reaching milestones means moving on to the next. It’s a never ending cycle, for better or for worse. For children, one milestone may feel like the endgame. When they fail, they think it’s the end of the world and everything else after it will not be satisfying.
Teachers and parents need to team up to teach children that one failure doesn’t mean they will never succeed. Let’s start with encouraging them when they reach these milestones:
Their First Day of School
The world that your child knows grows bigger once they reach school age. It can be an overwhelming time, and they need your support and encouragement to spark excitement in them. Some children can’t wait to learn and get to their first grade writing worksheets, but others need a little nudge to get out of bed and be ready for their first day.
School may seem like a big, scary place for your child. When they think about spending so much time with other students, they may feel overwhelmed. Find someone in the neighborhood that they can go to school with so that they will not feel like they’re all alone.
Their First Best Friend
Once your child has found their place in school, they may also find people they share interests with. One of them may become your child’s best friend, and soon they may be inseparable. Encourage them to be open about friendship and show your support for their growing independence by letting them decide to invite their friend over. Being close to another person is a good indicator that your child is doing well in a social setting. Teachers should note, however, if students seem to grow close with bad influences. This kind of friendship may not be beneficial to the child later on.
Their First Loss
It could be their dog, their loved one, or a friend. It may be a friend breakup. It may be them not winning an award they really wanted. Whatever kind of loss your child is going through will feel like the worst while they’re going through it.
Parents and teachers should not tell the child to “get over it.” Let them express their emotions in a safe space, and be there when they communicate what they need. The way they deal with this first loss and the support you give will determine how they will look at future losses. If you tell them to get over it, they may not open up to you about the extent of the hurt they’re feeling, and that may lead to regrets and resentment later on.
You look at milestones as a hurdle keeping you away from your life goals. For children, the milestone may be the life goal they currently have, and as a supportive parent or teacher, you should not invalidate their feelings. Instead, help them deal with their emotions in a productive manner so that their confidence will not take a blow.