It’s easy to get overwhelmed or confused with what you can do to best support your child. Every week I speak with parents who want to see their child happier, feeling smart and self-motivated, who wish school didn’t have to rob their kid of confidence or free time.
They try tutors, counseling, ADHD specialists and executive function coaching, neurofeedback and more. They’re at a loss of why they can’t seem to help their child install positive, lasting changes. They don’t realize what’s missing.
I want to detail the two most important things that you as a parent can do to help your child create real, sustainable change for themselves starting today.
Helping your child tap in to their best self – the one who self-motivates and feels the joy of learning, who gets and stays organized and delights you by checking their calendar and doing what they need to get done without your prompting – involves two things:
This is the #1 cause of school struggles. Kids are taught to in the classroom. They don’t learn how to learn on their own at home. Of course there’s resistance and fights and anxiety – they’re expected to do something they don’t know how to do.
If your child isn’t crystal clear on that HOW piece – how to manage their work, how to create a calendar, how to write an essay, how to manage their time, how to study – they will never feel or do their best.
This is a fact that no amount of ‘trying’ – putting in effort without clear strategy – will overcome.
When we don’t know how to do something we need to do, we’re set up to fail.
We get frustrated. Our brains are quick to jump to negative self-talk – “I can’t / I’m just not smart enough / What’s wrong with me” – and/or start rationalizing to make ourselves feel better – “It’s not like I’m going to have to ever know this anyway / This is stupid, school is a waste of time..”
Meanwhile, nothing is wrong with them. They’ve simply never learned how to do what they need to do.
Equipping your child with the right strategies for learning success is the first thing you can do. Once they know how to do their schoolwork, they can do it properly, independently and on time (and feel much better about themselves and what they’re truly capable of). If they don’t have the strategies, all of these things are impossible or exceedingly hard to come by in any sort of sustained way.
You can give your child the strategies but if they’re weighed down by limiting beliefs – that they’re not worthy or smart enough, that the strategies won’t work for THEM so why bother trying, failing will make them feel even worse – they won’t use them properly.
The negative self-talk and limiting beliefs that stem from months or years of trying to do something (school, learning) without knowing how to do it doesn’t go away on its own.
So what can you do?
First, understand there isn’t a “right time” for your child to cultivate more empowering, productive mindsets. It’s never too late and it’s not too early, they’ll always have too much on their plate or not enough, they want to try to improve things on their own or they’re not motivated etc. – there’s always a reason to wait and I promise you that your future self will thank you for taking action sooner than later.
From there, one of the first actions is helping your child identify that the way they feel – stupid, unmotivated, overwhelmed, ‘over it’, whatever – is not an objective truth. They don’t feel like this because it’s the way they are or the way things are. They feel this way because of what they believe. Because of a mindset shaped by all the negative and often soul-crushing things that they’ve experienced in school (be it bad grades, mean comments from peers or teachers, trying to do better and failing anyway, feeling embarrassed over an IEP, feeling like they can’t focus, have no motivation…it’s sad that the list goes on and on).
The key here is ensuring that your child understands that their beliefs – and the mindsets they hold up – can change and that they are the only ones who can create those changes.
Guiding them in dismantling limiting beliefs and replacing them with more empowering beliefs – while showing them step-by-step strategies for how to do their schoolwork- has them feeling drastically more confident and self-motivated within a matter of days. My team and I witness this first hand every single week.
Strategy and mindset are the two things that let you and your child create a happier, healthier normal where school and learning is at the least not a source of conflict and at best a source of pride and excitement over how capable they are as autonomous, self-motivated humans.
If you know how to implement these strategies and mindset with your child, fantastic! More power to you. I know a lot of parents who are extremely jealous.
If you don’t know how to implement these things properly or simply don’t want to (it’s OK to want to enjoy being Mom or Dad and not a teacher or learning coach!), you might want expert help. In this case, book your free 1:1 assessment with my team here. We’ll do a deep dive into your situation and map out how to get from where they are right now to where they (and you) wish they could be.
To your child’s wild and joyful success,
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