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What do we want, when do we want it? Now!

Ann McAleavy
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When you watch any form of news reporting, you'll have heard this chant. There are many reasons for people protesting, and it can help highlight issues that we're not always aware of. People feel strongly not only about better pay and working conditions but many other things too. 

Do we always get what we want - no! Do we get what we want just because we shout about it?  Not always.  Is there a better way to approach an issue to enable you to get people to listen to what you want?  I think there often could be.

I was reading an article this morning regarding children being taken out of school for family holidays in term time. The comments were varied and some were heated - highlighting an important topic for many parents.  The article concerned a family that received a fine for taking their child out of school in term time.  Aggrieved parents who receive a fine may not always be in a position to pay, but neither are they able to afford the hiked-up prices for holidays outside term time.  Is there a better way to allow both parties to get a result that works for them?

Let's examine the facts.

  • Term time is important for kids to learn the curriculum.
  • Holiday time is important and some parents don't have the luxury of excess funds during the school holidays.

Imagine the scenario: you book a holiday, the children need time off school and you just take them without permission, you've purchased the holiday clothes and the excitement for everyone is building.  The holiday arrives and away you go for a week, maybe two. BLISS.  On the journey home back to reality, you realise that the holiday cost a little more than you budgeted for, and you come back to a fine from the school!  You lose your head and say things on the spur of the moment, the children hear you, you're angry and they see you behaving just like a petulant child. Is this how you really show your children how you deal with NOT getting what you want?

What might the alternative look like?  Instead of there being conflict straight away because of a fine, why not, prior to the holiday, prepare to have a conversation with the school, setting out what you need and the reasons for it , ask if it would be possible to have a note of the work the child would miss during their absence, show that you are willing to be flexible and understand the school's issue and propose that if your child can have that time off, they will be given the homework and allocate time during the holiday to complete the tasks.

As parents, we are initially the biggest influence on our children. If we teach them how to deal with conflict, help them understand how to be flexible, teach them that if they have a complaint or problem how to be articulate in proposing a solution, and that you don't always get what you want, the next generation may get what they WANT but on certain terms where they're willing to make a concession or two.  And - this is a reasonable hope - you may avoid quite as many tantrums!

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