By Sarah Newton
Giving an A is a simple and effective tool that you can apply to all of your relationships but practically the relationships with the young people in your life. It requires a tiny shift in perspective and an open and adventurous mind. Just try this for a week and see if you notice a difference. For this week give your teenager an A, assume that they have already become the person that you would like and treat them as such. Don't wait for them to prove it, hand them permanent unqualified A's. Treat them as a person who wants to make an authentic contribution to the family and community that surrounds them.
Before any communication with your teenager, stop and breath and think how to respond knowing that this person has an A, knowing that deep inside this person really wants that A and wants to contribute in a constructive matter. Notice how differently you think, listen and communicate with your teen. In the tough and challenging times when you think that you teenager deserve anything BUT an A, ask yourself "What am I doing that is not allowing this person to shine?" be honest and truthful with yourself.
Just imagine a society and school system based on the premise that all teenagers had an A and all had a worthwhile contribution to make. Look around; how many worthwhile roles are there for our teenagers in society? Is it no surprise that they feel insignificant and worthless, choosing to alienate themselves. This practice of giving an A will give them purpose and meaning to their lives and will begin to fulfil their need for authentic contribution.
While you are at it, give yourself an A as a parent. Write a letter to yourself stating why you got an A in parenting, notice the person in this letter and what differs about them.
By giving someone an A, you open up to transform yourself. Someone who has an A also has the ability to understand, therefore your thoughts and feelings are easier to share; you automatically start talking in "we" instead of "me" language. When we give people an A we are clearly stating that the world of measurement in not how we judge people, we judge people on the possibility that is available to them, the person they can grow into. This is the ultimate in respect; you are saying that you respect them enough to give them room to realize themselves. Your focus shifts from what is wrong to what is possible. What a gift!
Rosamund and Benjamin Zander remind us that "An A in not a expectation to live up to but possibility to live into"
So give your teenager a true gift by moving them out of the world of accomplishments and measurement and into a world of respect, contribution and most of all possibility.
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