10 Tips to Ease the Frustrations
Whether your children are in public school, private school, home-school, or even unschooled, this time of year can be stressful on any family. But, when we have children with dyslexia, ADD, ADHD or autism – the shear mention of school may conjure thoughts of RETREAT! Packing up the family and heading for the hills where we can just spend our time frolicking in the meadows and splashing in the mountain streams, in blissful denial for the next 10 months, seems our only possibility for maintaining civility in our home.
Somehow, school seems to transform our happy, loving child into a mass of sadness, anger, fear and defiance, while turning us into the yelling, frustrated, angry parents we promised ourselves we would never be. This feels horrible for you as the parent, I know – been there done that. But imagine how it feels for your child. What feelings must they be experiencing that result in the manifestation of these negative emotions and behaviors? Not to mention our personal post-traumatic stress from the previous year of fighting with them over homework, getting ready in the morning, not turning in their homework, not writing down their homework, getting ‘cards pulled’ for behavior…and the list goes on.
Whether a kiddo struggles with focus, behavior, academics, socialization, time management, and/or organizational skills, these precious kiddos are thrust into an environment (usually five days a week for up to eight hours a day) where they feel “less than.” School is a place where they are constantly reminded that they are different. If you are homeschooling, then you have much more control over the emotional structure being provided, but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing. Sometimes as parents we can be crueler and less understanding of our own children (that is a topic for another day).
There are many things we can do as parents to ease the transition back into school for our wonderful kiddos. Here are 10:
- Don’t make all their decisions for them. Let them help decide on simple things such as the morning schedule, what time to start homework, how to organize their backpack etc. This is empowering.
- Listen to them. Sit down with them and ask them about their day. A great question is “What was the best thing that happened today?” You can also ask them, “What was hard for you today?”
- Don’t dismiss their feelings. Please acknowledge your child’s feelings. To tell someone that they shouldn’t be feeling how they are feeling is dismissive. We all want to know that people care about us and how we feel.
- Let them know they are more than their grades, school performance and behavior. Tell them that how they do in school is such a small part of who they are and that you love them unconditionally.
- Accentuate their positives. Find what they are good at and support it.
- Stop yelling at them to Focus! We assume everyone knows what focus/concentrate is and that they should be able to do it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Until you help them acquire some tools for focus, please stop assuming that they could do it if they just tried harder.
- Talk to the teacher. Let the teacher know what your child likes and dislikes. There is a good chance their teachers have somewhere between 30 to 150 other students. Let them see your child for the individual they are.
- Ask for accommodations if necessary. Know your rights. As a parent you have the right to have your child assessed by the district in which you live. A structured personalized educational program is one option and simple accommodations are another.
- Breathe – it is just homework. Take the battles out of homework. If your expectation is that your active, imaginative eight-year-old is going to sit for one hour straight and quietly finish their homework while you cook dinner – then you are going to be very frustrated.
- Advocate for your child. If it has become you and the school against your child, then you are on the wrong side of the battlefield. You are your child’s voice at school. You are your child’s first defense. You are your child’s advocate. Pick up your weapons and fight for them, not against them.In gratitude,