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"Why Can It Be So Challenging to Assist Your Child with Homework and Schoolwork?"

As parents, we wear many hats, most of which we can adjust when needed. We regularly help our children navigate life, providing guidance and instruction as needed on things from brushing their teeth to making new friends. But it seems our efforts often fail when our child is struggling in school. Why?

  1. We are too emotionally invested. School success can be a charged subject for parents and kids. Often, as parents, we feel responsible for our child's success or lack thereof in school. If our kid is struggling in school, there's often a sense that we did something wrong or aren't doing something right, which causes the problem. That thought can make it difficult to objectively help our kids with school work because our goal (success in school) outweighs the help itself. There tends to be an underlying stress or pressure when we step in to help. Our kids, too, are invested in our opinions of them and look for our validation. So often, when we step in to help, they see it as disappointment or not believing in them. Thus, the underlying expectations can break down our efforts.

  2. We teach the way we were taught or the way we learned. When we help our kids, we draw on our own experience with learning and school, but what might have worked for us might not work for them. Either the strategy doesn't click, or the advice falls on ignorant ears. For example, we may suggest to our kid that they study more for the next test when they think they studied as hard as they could, which leads to a shutdown in communication and the problem doesn't get resolved. Often, what we try to address as parents is only a symptom of something else. This untangling of what's happening is difficult for a parent to know how to do and be able to do without a lot of attachment and emotion (see #1)

I'm not saying helping our kids when they struggle in school is impossible, but it's worth saying that it can be difficult and often is. Just knowing that relieves some of the anxiety around the topic. Seeking another's perspective on what is going on and what can be done can be very helpful and can allow us to preserve our child/parent relationship without the added stress school work can bring.

For more about my school coaching business, click here. You can also listen to The School Whisperer podcast (here).

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