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Parenting and Homework Tips - Going From Tears & Fears - to CHEERS!

Judy Armes

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What's a Parents’ Biggest Fear?-That their child will become seriously ill or in a serious accident. Is that your biggest fear?

So, what's the second biggest fear? My bet is that it might have something to do with whether their children will be successful, happy and productive as adults. No parent (I'm pretty sure!) envisions their children as poverty-stricken or unable to hold onto a job.

But how can we insure that our children have the best chance of adult success? The answer is likely found in whether we have instilled values (not just skills or information) into their self-perception and world-view. Kids learn what they live. If they are observing and practicing behaviors of success they are more likely to demonstrate those behaviors when they grow up-and be happier, more productive and successful adults.

So, now what? How do we parents demonstrate behaviors of success? How do we encourage our children to practice them? Attitude and Consistent demonstration of a positive attitude about learning are the keys.

When we adults demonstrate a can-do attitude, our kids get it by osmosis. Words like “try again" and “you can do it" or “let's do it another way" are supportive statements that suggest optimism and confidence. Homework can be daunting for kids and their parents. Assuming that your children can do it (if they just have the proper tools) goes a long way toward over-ruling their own sense of self-doubt. And then making sure they have the tools they need shows your commitment to their success.

Everyone has their own way of communicating. The following phrases are useful to demonstrate confidence. If they aren't exactly the words you might say, use your own words that convey the message. After all, your relationship with your children depends upon being genuine and real. So, try your best to be yourself as you are supporting your unique child's progress toward success.

1) “I know this is difficult, but we can work it out" -this statement suggests that a task or notion is (in fact) a “toughie"-and might be hard for anyone. But it goes on to affirm that with intention and a partnering of effort, your child WILL be successful. The underlying message is two-fold: your child is not alone (you are available to help) and you are committed to joining with your child to get a positive result. This message applies to when a child is struggling with a homework problem or assignment or when your child is feeling overwhelmed with a personal issue or when your child is being challenged with a
task that seems too difficult for him or her.

2) “Remember when you didn't know _ and now you do? You'll figure this out too!" -this statement reminds your child of a past success. It also suggests that although an issue or problem might seem challenging on the surface, there IS a solution. A simple analogy is easy for a child to understand. . . "once upon a time you didn't know how to drink from a glass or cup. But then you practiced and practiced until you became a “master". Now it's easy. When you're trying to read or do a math problem or figure out how to wash the car, you'll do what you did then. You'll try several ways until you find something that works-then you'll practice and practice until you're really good at it. I just know that you'll figure this out too!"

3) “I sometimes had a hard time with (math, spelling, problem-solving-etc), too. But I just stuck at it and now it's easier for me. " -this statement suggests that ‘hanging in there’ despite the discouragement is an important strategy. It also demonstrates your own commitment to try again and your own optimism that trying again will ultimately work. Although you don't want to regale your child with a ‘when I was your age" story, children often feel more understood if they know you've had struggles, too. And they are often inspired when they perceive your own intention toward success.

It's not easy being a parent! And, the additional challenge of being a homework cheerleader is sometimes the straw that breaks the back of well-meaning parents. For more ideas and resources about how to support your child's learning, you're invited to visit


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