Let’s Talk About: The Armour Our Kids Wear with Lindsey
Lindsey refers to her child’s attitude as ‘school armour’, what exactly does she mean? Let’s find out.
“I’ve always referred to the attitudes my kids had to wear in school as armour. It’s an attitude, and the attitude says: I’m tough.
I don’t listen to authority because good citizenry isn’t popular.
I don’t care about my grades because learning is for nerds.
I’m sarcastic because it’s funny and makes my immature friends laugh.
I’m rude to my siblings because only my peers are worthy of my respect.
I back talk to my parents because I’m too cool to be a good listener.
I’m too cool to be a good student, a good sibling, a good kid.
When our kids get home from school each day, they’re exhausted. The weight of carrying their armour around all day has worn them out. Some express this with meltdowns, tantrums, overwhelming emotions (crying or getting angry for no reason). Others express it with bad attitude, being disagreeable, back talking. And others have to zone out, stare at the tv or a video game. And some may tip the other direction, and have an explosive amount of energy, pent up from containing their true selves inside their armour all day. I saw this happen with both my children.
Removing their armour takes time.
March Break, one week, it’s not coming off. Maybe by Thursday or Friday they’re starting to shed the armour and their behaviour is improving, but by Sunday they’re suiting back up again, ready to take on the school environment on Monday morning.
Christmas Break is better, two weeks, maybe two and a half, and by the end of week some of the armour has fallen away and you’re starting to see your sweet, kind child again. It always made me so disappointed if Christmas Break didn’t start until *just* before Christmas. I’d rather the kids have more time off before Christmas than after, more time to shed that armour attitude before the holiday comes around!
Summer was always the best. I couldn’t wait for summer break! Give them a week, give them two, and boom! my sweet kids are back! They’re getting along, they’re friends again, they love their parents and are willing to show it, they’re playing age appropriate games again! They always seemed to regress in terms of interests and play in the summer, but in a good way. They don’t have peers watching them and assessing their every move and decision for “coolness”, so they will engage in more juvenile games. Especially an older sibling playing with a younger one.
I noticed as my oldest promoted through the grades, that it was taking longer and longer for him to shed his armour when school took a break. I could see that with each passing year, the more he wore the armour, the more he became the armour. I felt that if something didn’t change, he would just become the kid he was while wearing his armour. Maybe that’s what an obnoxious teenager is after all, they are your sweet child, trapped in the armour they wear to protect themselves from the world?
And what of the kids who don’t figure out how to wear the right armour? What of the sweetest, gentlest, kindest and most naive of our children? Those without armour are the ones who fall victim. They get bullied, they are nerds, they are outcasts. They’re in danger of feeling rejected, shunned, being physically harmed, emotionally damaged, or developing mental illness. Not wearing armour isn’t the easy way.
Our kids need to wear their armour. Until our school systems are torn out at the roots and rebuilt in a better, healthier, more kindness and community based way, the best we can do for them is help them polish their armour. Help them carry the load. Be understanding, patient, and kind when they seem distant, rude, and unreachable. Teach them to use their armour as a shining knight would, to defend those they come across without any on at all. Our kids can’t remove their armour if they feel their parents are angry, annoyed, or impatient with them. That’s not to say that bad behaviour doesn’t require discipline, but try not to start believing they are the armour and not the kid underneath. You know who they are. Who they really are. Be as patient and understanding of the stress and weight their armour puts on them as you can. And be there, waiting for them, when they do find those times that they’re able to drop the armour off, shed its weight, and be themselves.”
I love this armour metaphor that Lindsey is talking about here. Are your kids holding tight to their armour from school? There’s hope. As Lindsey said, it takes understanding, patience and kindness even when they’re driving you nuts with their attitude. Lindsey was able to peel back the armour that her kids were wearing – you can too!