If you’re like most parents of school-aged kids, you’ve probably witnessed an anxious child struggling with a challenging homework task.
The temptation to help them in some way can be very strong…
And even when the ‘help’ starts off with a gentle nudge in the right direction, it can sometimes end up with the child sleeping on the couch while you finish off the project!
It’s perfectly understandable. We want to stop children from being anxious, while helping them to succeed.
But it’s best not to help too much.
KJ Dell’Antonia identified a few important reasons in a recent article.
If your child’s teacher has assigned them the work, this means that he or she believes the child is capable of completing it.
And if you complete all, or part, of the work for them, you’re putting a cap on their ability to be challenged, to be motivated, and to learn.
It seems obvious…
So why do parents often feel so inclined to intervene?
When kids are feeling stressed by homework, they may beg for your help, and you may start ‘looking for evidence that it’s out of their comfort zone’, says clinical psychologist Madeline Levine.
But the important thing to recognise is that it’s NOT out of their capacity zone.
Your child is capable of completing the work, and they’re not expected to do it perfectly.
Their teacher wants to see their best work — not yours.
So how can you handle the stress of a homework-challenged child?
Here are some tips:
- Remind them that the project is meant to be challenging and that being challenged is a necessary and important part of learning.
- Reassure them that it is not about the results they achieve but how much effort they put in. And that you — and their teacher — will admire their efforts most of all.
- Learn to tolerate your own anxiety, as well as your child’s. Again, this is a normal by-product of being challenged, and can help to motivate us more.
- Guide them in the right direction. Take an interest in what they’re doing, help them to interpret instructions, to obtain materials, and to break the assignment into smaller, less daunting chunks. This will help them a great deal without doing any of the actual work for them.
- Convince them that they are capable. When they say they can’t do it, make sure they know that they can — and they will!
You’ll be surprised by just how capable your child really is.
They will (eventually!) be grateful for your allowing them to learn, and for the satisfaction they get from completing a project on their own.
And remember — let the teachers do their job! 😉