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What NOT to Do When You’re Struggling to Raise a Bilingual Child – Bilingual Monkeys


If you’ve read Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability, or any of my other books, and you found value in what you read, I’d be so grateful if you’d add a review to the book page at Amazon—even a short review would mean a lot to me and I’d love to see it. I know there are many readers who haven’t yet left a review and your reviews would be enormously helpful. The fact is, practically every book will get some 1-star reviews, but these are still really frustrating to the author and damaging to the book—especially when the review is actually mistaken about the contents of the book itself. (The other day someone said that Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability is only suitable for families where the parents are using two different languages, but that isn’t true at all: the basic principles and ideas found in the book can benefit the efforts of any parents wanting to raise a bilingual or multilingual child.)

I know adding a review can be a nuisance, but sharing your positive impressions in this way would be extremely helpful to me and I’d be deeply thankful. In fact, I’ll happily thank you personally, too, if you just email me after leaving your review! Here’s the link to my author page at Amazon.com, where you’ll find all my books. Or, of course, please add reviews at the other Amazon sites. (I welcome reviews at Goodreads, too.) Thank you for your support! :mrgreen:

Over the many years I’ve been working with bilingual and multilingual families, I’ve sought to support parents with ideas and encouragement for maintaining momentum and overcoming difficulties. Through a range of ways—through this blog, through my forum, through my books, through email and social media, through workshops and consulting sessions, and now through my new private coaching program—the aim has always been to help parents effectively address their struggles, or even avoid these struggles entirely before they can occur. And the greater purpose of all this work is simply this:

Because I know how important your bilingual or multilingual journey is to you and your family—how heartfelt this dream is—I truly want you to experience as much success and joy as possible over the course of the childhood years.


However, from time to time I also think it can be helpful to offer thoughts on what NOT to do when you’re struggling in some way. Because of Bilingual SuperKids, I’m now speaking frequently to parents about their concerns (you can speak to me, too, if you like: the initial call is free and without further obligation) and these conversations have made it clear that there are several things you should NOT do if you truly want to experience greater success and joy on this journey.

1. Don’t Give Up
As I continually stress, language development is not an all-or-nothing proposition. If you simply keep going, no matter what, you will generate gradual progress and enjoy some degree of success. The outcome may not match your original dream, but you can travel a long, rewarding way over the 18 years of childhood…as long as you don’t give up from frustration and discouragement. Since language development is a continuum without end, the only way to actually fail at your aim is to abandon your efforts entirely. In other words, you can’t fail—your child will make progress—if you simply continue stepping forward from day to day, from week to week, from month to month, from year to year. Even small steps, persistently made, will end up covering the distance of a marathon, right?

2. Don’t Ignore the Problem
I understand that our lives are busy (probably too busy), but when the busyness of daily life distracts us from mindfully focusing on our difficulties, and proactively addressing them, then we’re essentially ignoring the problem. And make no mistake, days with young children may seem long, but the weeks and months will speed by before you know it. Not only won’t the situation improve on its own, it may well grow worse. For example, one widespread challenge involves the child understanding the minority language when spoken to, but generally responding in the majority language. This is a problem that can certainly be addressed in strategic ways with the aim of activating the child’s passive ability. Yet if sufficient action isn’t taken, this difficulty will likely persist, and become even more intractable over time. When you’re experiencing a larger concern like this, and you truly want to improve the situation, address it without delay.

3. Don’t Rationalize Shortcomings
I often ask parents: “How important is your bilingual or multilingual aim to you? Rate this sense of importance on a scale from 1 to 10.” From the response, the level of importance, of priority, becomes very clear. However, when a parent tells me that this aim is important to them, yet they rationalize the shortcomings of the situation—making thin excuses for their lack of action or claiming that dissatisfying results are somehow acceptable to them—this obviously raises a red flag. How important is this aim to you, really? The point is, the level of our actions must match the level of our priority. If the priority is high—truly high—then our actions must support the scale of our ambitions. When that isn’t the case—when there’s a gap between the two—the lesser results will produce disappointment and perhaps an attempt to rationalize away these shortcomings.

4. Don’t Think Perfection
The bilingual journey is an experience embedded within your life itself and that life, like all our lives, is inherently messy and imperfect. That’s the way it is, for all of us, and this is why our mantra must simply be: Progress, not perfection. No matter how messy it feels, no matter how many times you think you’ve “failed” at your efforts, as long as you keep plodding forward from day to day, doing your honest best, you’ll continue generating momentum and progress. But if you judge yourself based on the unrealistic expectation that you somehow need to do things “perfectly,” you may set yourself up for continual discouragement. So let me give you full permission, from this point forward, to pursue a messy journey marked by many moments of “failure.” Since that’s just the nature of this experience, your acceptance of this fact will then free you from unnecessary frustrations. Such frustrations are an example of “overthinking” things when it’s often best to simply persist in your actions, zombie-like, and learn from them along the way.

5. Don’t Take Bad Advice
The very best advice for you can only be given by someone who has experience and expertise in raising bilingual or multilingual children and knows the full details of your particular situation. For instance, when I’m asked for advice, and I don’t know the full details, I tend to stress that my response offers general thoughts on that question or concern, which I hope will be helpful, but I can’t really tailor this response most effectively to their situation without knowing the complete context. So any advice you receive may or may not be “good” for you, depending on the person and the problem, but it’s unlikely to be the “best” advice because the most effective advice must be based on the specific details of the situation. It’s like seeking a diagnosis for a medical condition without providing much information on your symptoms or undergoing any tests to determine the cause. The doctor might still be helpful to you, but it’s also possible that the advice you receive will be misguided or inadequate. To get the most accurate diagnosis, and the most effective treatment, a deeper understanding of the situation is needed.

What NOT to Do When You’re Struggling to Raise a Bilingual Child

What You SHOULD Do

So that’s what you shouldn’t do if you’re struggling to raise a bilingual child. But what should you do? Well, just the opposite…

1. Keep going, no matter what.

2. Proactively address your difficulties.

3. Don’t make excuses for inaction.

4. Be okay with this messy, imperfect process.

5. Get good guidance and support.

And, honestly, if you want the very best guidance and support I can offer, partner with me at Bilingual SuperKids to receive continuous, customized coaching that lasts throughout the years of your bilingual or multilingual journey. This private coaching program is the culmination of my career and is already supercharging the success and joy of families worldwide.

To learn more, just visit Bilingual SuperKids and book a free call with me to discuss your situation in detail. I’ll try to be as helpful as I can, in our initial conversation, and you’ll be under no obligation beyond that. Also, I realize that long-term coaching support like this might sound expensive, but I think you’ll find that it’s more affordable than you imagine. In fact, in the greater scheme of things, the cost is probably less than one roundtrip plane ticket on your next vacation, or literally pennies a day if spread over the full length of your bilingual or multilingual journey.

Wouldn’t greater success and joy at such an important aim be well worth just pennies a day?

Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.


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