Back To School, Back To War?
Shorter days, crisper air and beautiful fall colors signal us that the lazy days of summer are over. Many of us welcome autumn and the seasonal change but for families with school age children, this is often when the Homework Wars begin. Some families seem to handle the back to school routine with ease, but if you are one of those parents who get a sinking feeling in your gut when your phone shows ten messages from the school, or you find yesterday’s homework stuffed under the car seat, I have some tips for you.
Be On Their Side
If you are thinking, “I know the basics like routine, commitment and consistency, I just can’t get my child’s co operation,” perhaps we can offer a better battle plan. Wars begin when people take opposite sides of a problem. So by joining your student’s side and you are half ways there.
This can be accomplished by a family brainstorm session where you become the Curious Observer instead of the Commanding General. The difference between the two roles is the General issues orders often getting resistance while the Curious Observer makes observations and invites participation in the solutions. As you read the following dialogue notice how the parent stays out of the Commanding General role and becomes an observer. An Observer notices what is going on honoring both perspectives.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Parent: “I noticed 3rd grade teachers are sending more assignments home this year.”
Kid: “Yeah, I hate that. It is all stupid stuff.”
Parent: “It is pretty hard to do homework when you think it is stupid.”
Kid: “Well, I just wish I could play after school.”
Parent: “Yeah, but what happened when you play all afternoon and then go to school without your homework?”
Kid: “I feel stupid and I hate school.”
Parent: “Yeah, I hate to be unprepared for things too. Is there a way you could get play time in and get your homework done?”
Kid: “Well, when I play first, I just forget about doing my homework.”
Parent: “Yeah, it is hard to remember when you are having fun. Can you think of a way you could remember?”
Student: “Well, would you call me when it is homework time?”
Parent: “Well, then you might get mad at me sometimes when you didn’t want to come.”
Kid: “Yeah, why don’t we set the time on the stove?”
Parent: “That sounds like a creative solution. Let’s try that for a while and see how it works for you. We can review your plan later if it isn’t working for you.”
Effective Battle Strategy
A plan where the child and parent are on the same team helps bring sanity to the Homework Wars. We all like to support what we help create. If you work together and include your child’s ideas in the solution, you won’t have to fight the homework wars.
If you want more information on how to be a Curious Observer, check out Jane Nelson’s book, Positive Discipline where she talks about “curiosity questions.”
Camille Curtis Foster, LCSW
Contact Me / 801.472.7134 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Another good web site on the subject: http://www.empoweringparents.com/how-can-you-make-your-child-do-it.php
See also my article on childhood development to see if your child’s behavior is just a normal stage. http://www.utahmentalhealthservices.com/concerns/child-development/
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