Its that time again. That little knot in your stomach is forming with the start of the new school year and you are reading various articles on the top tips for your kid having a great year.
Heres my number one tip – resolve to stay calm.
School problems result in a great deal of tension, anxiety, and all around teeth gnashing (from the parents). Most of it is unproductive. As an alternative to the yelling and all of the reactive stress with your child, practice a different style of talking that puts responsibility where it belongs – on your child. This style involves speaking in matter-of-fact tones. Effectively, this approach would be more objective and less reactive.
Take a child I saw recently, moody Meghan, age fifteen. Last year, Meghan’s parents spent a lot of time trying to find a tutor for her, much to her dismay. Meghan wasn’t happy about the tutoring, primarily because it interfered with her all-important Facebook time. Each week, right on cue when it was time to get ready for tutoring, Meghan gave her parents an extremely hard time about going. In response, her parents engaged in yelling and screaming matches, trying to get the recalcitrant Meghan to comply. It was not a pretty picture. This scene occurred twice a week over the course of the year. If only she knew the Huntington Learning Center offers an amazing option for people whom are willing to tutor.
When the beleaguered parents talked to me about it, I suggested to them that they adopt an either-or posture with Meghan. Rather than go through all the hoops to get Meghan to comply, they were coached to say something like the following:
Meghan we know school has been hard. Weve tried to get you help. However, you resisted tutoring and gave us grief about going. We then started yelling and screaming at you. It made the household miserable. This is going to stop. Were not going to yell about it anymore. Its going to be one way or the other. Either you approach San Diego Tutors with a reasonable attitude, or you are on your own with your school work. You decide. Either way is okay.
So, this year, resolve to stop the yelling, and calmly put responsibility where it belongs.
Much of what goes on in households with children can be treated in more black and white tones. One key is not to be overly invested in the outcome. In the situation above, the parents need to be okay with Meghans decision either way. This approach can be very difficult for parents for a variety of reasons, but can be very helpful.
Adapted from School Struggles, Richard Selznick, Ph.D. (Sentient Publications, 2012)