As parents, we all want to see our children succeed and be happy in school. While it is natural for parents to take for granted their child's achievements and instead focus on the subjects or areas where a child may have room for improvement, remember that every child needs support and encouragement.
Here are a few tips on how to focus on the positive when talking with your child about school, in even the most difficult situations:
Avoid regular disapproval.
Most likely, a child who is struggling in school already feels upset about it. Reminding your child frequently that he or she has disappointed you, or pointing out in a negative way what they already know ( This is a terrible report card, or You need to bring up your grades or you ™ll end up failing fifth grade ) is likely to make your child feel more discouraged rather than motivated to do better. Instead, ask your child open-ended questions and listen to the answers. How does your child feel about his or her teacher or teachers? What subjects does your child find the most interesting or exciting? What subjects does your child dislike? Why? Understanding your child's situation will arm you with the information you ™ll need to help your child (and seek additional help if necessary).
Notice your child's successes.
Positive reinforcement comes in many forms, but one way to encourage your child to do better in school is by taking regular notice of his or her achievements, big or small. Particularly as your child becomes older, specific, positive comments about your child's efforts ( You ™ve really been working to make your study time more productive, and that's great ) are more meaningful than nonspecific, vague praise ( Good job ). Remember to recognize improvements ”if your child produces an improved mid-semester report card or a better grade on a math test than last time, don't let it go unnoticed. Congratulate your child right away and acknowledge his or her hard work.
Ask how you can help.
By asking questions, you are encouraging your child to open up to you not only about school, but about his or her life outside the home (including aspects of your child's life that may be negatively impacting their studies). At the same time, you can show your child that you're supportive by opening the floor to him or her to offer ideas on how you can help. Your child's answer may shed new light on the best path forward, but more importantly, it will provide your child the opportunity to think through one or more possible solutions to his or her problem.
Help your child believe in himself or herself.
In the long run, a child who perseveres even when school gets tough is more likely to demonstrate those same valuable skills later in life as a college student or in a job. How do you instill such determination in your child? By letting your child know that you believe in him or her, too, unconditionally. Accepting a child for who he or she is results in a confident child.
Empower your child to succeed in school and in life by employing positive parenting whenever possible. You may notice a change in your child's attitude, motivation and overall happiness. At Huntington, we understand that it's hard to know where to turn when your child is struggling in school. We can help. Huntington will work with you and your child to uncover the root of the problem and tailor a program to focus on the areas where your child needs the most assistance. If your child needs help in school, call Huntington Learning Center.
Dr. Raymond J. Huntington and Eileen Huntington are co-founders of Huntington Learning Center, which has been helping children succeed in school for more than 30 years. For more information about Huntington, call 1-800 CAN LEARN.