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Using Conation to Help Your Kids Enjoy Back-to-School Season

Believe it or not, another school year is already upon us, and that means kids everywhere are experiencing the excitement and uncertainty of new teachers, new friends, new clothes, new activities and on and on.  It’s a season of big changes, and while some kids can’t wait to start a new class, join a new club, or try out for the football team, many other kids will approach the first weeks of school with the enthusiasm of a dental patient preparing for a root canal.

Of course, change is a normal part of life, and it’s tempting to conclude that “some people just handle change very well, and others don’t.”  However, Kolbe WisdomTM and conation tell us that almost everyone has the ability to deal with change – even “BIG” change – in a very positive and productive manner.  The key is that not everyone has the same instinctive strengths for handling change. 

If you have school-age children, you might want to take a moment to consider their conative strengths as they leave behind those relaxing, halcyon days of August, and move into the hectic pace and apparent chaos of September.

If your child initiates as a Fact Finder, then try to help them learn everything they can about whatever changes they are facing.  If it’s a new classroom, or even a new school, encourage them to speak with friends who may be familiar with your child’s new teacher.  Have them walk around campus before school starts.  If the school has a website, have the student review their teacher's web page.  Remember, the more details, the better!

If you have a kid who leads with Follow Thru, they need to create a plan for the school year and organize the information and materials they will be dealing with.  Additionally, within this plan, they’ll need to integrate many of their existing systems that will remain essentially unchanged from the past.  For example, they will still come home to the same place, sleep in the same bed, be responsible for the same chores, and have the same family.    

(Side note: If, on the other hand, your student’s instincts are in the CounterAct Zone in Follow Thru, remember that they might be exceptionally good multi-taskers.  So, if they want to do homework while listening to music, texting friends, and even exercising, let them give it a try.  The results may surprise you!)

Students who are initiating Quick Starts will likely jump right into the changes of the new school year.  These students innovate.  Additionally, don’t be surprised when they attack everything (e.g., a class assignment, a major project for a club, etc.) with a sense of urgency or when they suddenly decide on a change in strategy.  They tend to do their best work when they are up against a tough deadline, and they tend to switch from one option to another.  They can make things happen very quickly.

Students who Initiate Implementor action need to make the new school year as “tangible” as possible.  They have instinctive strength for dealing with spacial relationships and for knowing where objects need to go. They have a natural instinct for building sturdy, permanent structures.  If such a student is trying a new musical instrument, let them take it apart to see how it works. If they’re required to read a Shakespearean play this year, find out if they can earn extra credit by building a theatrical set or making a costume for one of the characters in the play.  The student is still required to read the play, but doing something tangible will make the reading come alive for them.

For mediators, a time of change is an opportunity for them to use their gifts for making things happen by helping people understand one another and work together.  A mediator who enters a new school or a new classroom, or encounters a new group of friends, can make the transition very smooth by relying on their own instinctive strength for helping people to work together and understand one another. Such a student might be an excellent club president, project manager, or team captain.

Finally, don’t forget the importance of downtime.  Amid all of these exciting new changes, it’s easy for a kid to get over-committed and overwhelmed.  Encourage your student to take some time each day to relax and “do nothing.”  (Yes, even watching TV can be an effective way to shut down for a while.)  We all have a finite amount of conative energy, and during times of intensive change it is especially important to take some time to “recharge the battery.”

Now, go do your homework!

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is the latest iteration of Kathy Kolbe’s Theory of Conation. This model of human performance, used by individuals and companies around the world, has continued to evolve since it was first described in Kolbe’s best seller, “The Conative Connection.” 



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