Helping Children Succeed With Homework

Helping Children Succeed With Homework

DO:

  1. Have a positive attitude; homework builds responsibility and reinforces learning
  2. Set clear expectations and consistent limits
  3. Make daily agreements about the homework plan – provide choices
  4. Divide homework into manageable chunks
  5. Allow for breaks
  6. Respond with empathy to frustration, anxiety, anger, avoidance and complaints
  7. Intervene only when your child wants help; move away when your child begins to work
  8. Use words such as, “You can do it,” “Give it a try,” “What’s the next step,” “What part can you do”
  9. Focus on effort vs. grades

DON’T:

  1. Nag, bribe or punish to get kids to do the work
  2. Fight with your child over homework
  3. Rescue child from struggle
  4. Work harder than you child (it is not your homework)
  5. Comment negatively on the teacher or the homework
  6. Over-schedule your child

 

 

NEED BUBBLE WRAP?

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It is hard to watch your child fall, get hurt, struggle and make mistakes.  It is hard to see them feel sad, scared or not good enough. A parent I work with recently said, “I need more bubble wrap.” She wanted to protect her kids by wrapping them in bubble wrap so they would not bruise or break.  The wish was for bubble wrap to provide safe passage through the journey of childhood, adolescence and beyond. Today, many well-meaning parents are layering the bubble wrap in many areas of their children’s lives. They are hovering, doing things for children that they are capable of doing themselves, monitoring their every move, jumping in when their children experience conflict or adversity, giving praise and trophies not for excellence but for expected behavior or mere participation.  In addition, they are rescuing their children from the natural consequences of their own behavior and putting a lot of time, money and effort in an attempt to ensure their child’s success.  All of these parental behaviors are attempts to protect their children and foster self-esteem and happiness.

Unfortunately, their attempts are misguided. Not only is it impossible to protect our children but it is not in their best interest to be protected from the inevitable adversity in life. Children will get hurt both physically and emotionally. They might break a bone, be left out of a friendship gathering, they may struggle academically, they may forget their homework and receive an F or need to stay in for recess. Some children may even experience something tragic. Some, will experience uncomfortable consequences due to their own unkind behavior or not following the rules. Although these experiences are never wanted, they will likely happen. In most cases, they are valuable opportunities for children to learn about themselves.  They learn that they can handle or manage life when it is very sad or uncomfortable.

When children get hurt, struggle or make mistakes, they need a soft place to land. They need time and space to feel, think, process and learn from the experience. Your family is the bubble wrap. The bubble wrap of family insulates children with love and acceptance. When parents allow children a safe space to express their pain, humiliation, and sadness as well as a space to figure out how to navigate and problem solve, it helps soften the inevitable challenges of life.   When parents hold children accountable, they learn how to fail, struggle, try again and make good decisions. In this case, children are learning to take care of themselves—they are learning to be resilient.  In essence, they are developing their own bubble wrap that can only occur with your love.  Parents are not preventing the fall or hurt but they are preventing the damage that can come when children don’t develop the ability to bubble wrap and take care of themselves. For when children learn this, they have a valuable cushion for life.   They come to realize their inner strength, find their voice, and know their resilience and self-competence.  We need to shift from thinking we need to protect kids from all negative experiences to creating a family that provides love, support, calm, acceptance and guidance. This is the bubble wrap that children really need.

If your family could use a tune up in order to become a protective layer of bubble wrap, join us at our upcoming parenting class!

By Karen Jacobson, MA, LCPC, LMFT

DO YOU DREAD MORNINGS?

Has the start of school meant the return of morning madness and power struggles? No one wants to start the day with arguments, yelling and threatening as you try to get the kids out the door on time. End the morning battles with these simple steps.

 

  • Decide what time you need to leave the house in order to arrive at school without rushing. List all the tasks that need to be done prior to leaving. Simplify the list – what can be done the night before, what can be done before waking the kids? Decide upon a routine/ morning schedule that makes sense. Decide if any new rules would make mornings smoother. Examples include:
  • Backpacks are packed the night before and placed by the door
  • Clothes are chosen the night before
  • No digital media in the mornings – this eliminates distractions
  • Everyone needs to be fully dressed before any playtime, before breakfast is served, before going downstairs
  • Consider designating “jobs”- a family “time keeper” who has the job of signaling the time (ringing a bell or flipping lights on and off), a “list checker” can check the list to announce the next task, etc.
  • At a calm time discuss the new, clear routine with the family. If the kids are old enough involve them in the final plan – “We have a problem to solve. Mornings have been difficult. I have been yelling and I need your help to change this.” Increase cooperation by having the children make a checklist, a timeline with photos or a video of the expected behavior and new morning routine. Make sure children understand the rules and what time you will be leaving the house.
  • Get up early, get yourself ready so you are available to encourage your children to follow the new plan.
  • Use encouraging words to keep kids on track. Give small choices to give kids a sense of power and control and prevent power struggles.
  • I see you have got your shirt on, you are almost dressed!
  • You made your bed, nice going! Check the chart for what is next.
  • I see you have your shirt on, what do you want to put on next? Your pants or your socks?
  • You’re dressed! Can you remember what is next on the list? Washing up is right – will you wash your face or brush your teeth next? The choice is yours.
  • Stay calm, stick to the plan, and avoid getting off track. Staying calm is key. Kids might resist the new plan, they may get distracted, they may come up with excuses for why they cannot do what is asked and they may negotiate. Resist taking their “bait” and becoming reactive. Stay calm, say few words, set limits and stick to the plan. “I know you don’t want to get your coat on, I hear you feel rushed and you are not happy. The rule is that we leave at 8am. Do you want to wear your coat or carry it? Either is okay. I will meet you in the car.” DO NOT YELL OR FIGHT WITH YOUR KIDS. Send the message, “I love you too much to fight with you”
  • Expect problems. Be prepared for mistakes. Have a bag of clothes, hairbrush, etc. at the door. Let the family know it is almost 8am and you will be leaving the house in a few minutes. Kids who are not ready will protest. Empathically respond, “I know you are not quite ready, but it is 8am and we need to leave, you can finish up in the car or at school. Keep moving towards the door. Plenty of children have arrived at school in disarray while learning to become responsible with their morning routine. They may be uncomfortable or embarrassed but they learn that they need to follow the morning rules. Most children quickly ready themselves as they realize you are moving, you are not willing to wait for them and you are not bothered that they are not ready.
  • Be consistent, change takes time.

A Parent’s Survival Guide for Helping Your Kids Be Successful This Year

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Many parents are asking themselves, “What can I do to make sure my child has a successful year?”, “How can I make sure my child feels good about himself this year?”  Here are a few key survival guide tips that will help your children have a successful year.

We know that most kids today have numerous activities, strenuous sports practices, a rigorous homework load, religious school, and more.  Often parents are stressed just trying to keep up with their kids’ schedules.  It is the rare parent who is not feeling tremendous stress these days.  So, first let’s remember that when parents are stressed kids are stressed.  And when parents are stressed, we often miss some key parenting tools that help children feel great.

Tip #1– Connect with Your Child:  Children want to feel connected to us more than anything.  As humans, we are hard-wired for connection.  When children don’t feel enough connection from us, we let them down and it is a loss.  Connection does not have to take a lot of time but it does need to be genuine.  If you don’t have large chunks of time to spend with your child, make sure to find as many small moments as possible to tune in to them.  Listen to them, notice them, hug them, make eye contact, laugh with them, and acknowledge them when they reach out to you.  When children feel connected to their parents, they feel better about themselves and develop confidence.

Tip #2—Accept Your Child’s Feelings:  It is very easy to love your children when they are happy and behaving the way you want them to behave.  But children develop into successful and happy adults they feel loved by their parents unconditionally—no matter what they are feeling.  This means that they need to have access to all of their feelings—including the ones that don’t feel so good.  So, that means you need tools for helping your child deal with anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, rejection, fear, worry, insecurity, etc.  The best thing you can do is accept your child’s feelings.  You don’t have to like the feeling.  And you don’t need to fix the feeling or make it go away.  Many parents believe that when their child is experiencing an unpleasant emotion that they need to do something about it.  The truth is , al l you need to do is accept it.  Accepting feelings means empathizing.  Put yourself in your child’s shoes and see life from his perspective.  Then, acknowledge it.  You might simply say something like, “I can see you are really angry.”, “You’re sad because your friends didn’t invite you.”, “Doing homework can be really hard sometimes.”, “You’re worried about your test tomorrow.”  Accepting feelings is so important to effective parenting.  In fact, when you try to change their feeling or get angry at their feeling, it typically backfires and your child works even harder to show you how bad they really are feeling.  It gets worse.  Accepting your child’s feelings is one of the most important gifts you can give your child.  People who are successful and happy are good at accepting all of their emotions—the ones that are great and the ones that stink.  All part of the human experience.

Tip #3– Parental Self –Care:  Please don’t poo-poo this!  Your kids feel your energy and mirror your emotions.  On any given day, if your kids are acting out, throwing tantrums, not listening and you find yourself repeating requests, yelling and screaming this is a signal to look at your stress level.  Ask yourself on a scale of 0-10 how stressed are you?  Typically, parents find that the more stressed they are, the more their children misbehave.  Children misbehave when their emotional needs are not being met (as well as when they are tired or hungry).  Misbehavior is their way of communicating that they need you.  So, in order to meet your children’s needs you must slow down enough to carve out time for yourself.  So in order to meet their needs you must first take care of yourself!  Find ways to renew emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.  A little bit can go a long way.  When you are happy. you have more energy to give to your children.  Doing this paves the way for being able to do tips 1 & 2.

 

[Please join us for our upcoming 4-week course, “Becoming a Conscious Parent:  Tools & Principles for Parenting from Your Heart.”  In this class, these tips and a hundred more of will be discussed in depth.  You will feel so confident after four weeks and know just what you need to do help your children become successful adults.   For information visit www.parentingperspectives.com  OR call Karen: 312-330-3194 OR call Lauren: 847-562-9503]