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Worried about your child’s school performance?

When your children, especially teens, struggle with school, parents can easily fall into nagging, coaxing and hassling or even punishing when in reality none of those things work and sometimes actually make it worse. One mom wrote to us about her 13 year old son whose grades starting going down in the previous schoolyear and hadn’t improved. She and her son communicate well and she is looking for guidance on how to keep the lines of communication open while addressing her concerns Here are some action steps toward handling the problem while staying connected:

Step 1. Ask your son if he is willing to talk about school with you.

Step 2. If he says yes, ask about his goals for each class – what would he most like to be learning and does he have any ideas about grades he wants to achieve in each.

Step 3. If he says no, ask him if there would be a time in the future when he might feel comfortable talking about it. If he says no, back off for a good while. If he says yes, try to schedule a good time for both of you to chat.

Step 4. If he articulates any goals for any classes, ask him what is helping him be successful in the cases where he is achieving his goals and celebrate that with him. And then ask what he understands to be the barriers in the cases where he isn’t achieving his goals.

Step 5. If he begins to reflect on the barriers he may be experiencing, be curious about how he experiences those barriers. Try to understand them from his point of view. Ask what he has done to address the barriers in the past, any ideas he has about how to address them now. Maybe watch this hysterical TED talk on procrastination together and ask him if that is true for him in any way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arj7oStGLkU&fbclid=IwAR2dU06yb1nO9WwdRaJASTY_zM4JJ2v4S-3H2R5TQgj553VmmYYBbUlg0Jk

Step 6. Ask him if he’d be interested in your thoughts about addressing the barriers.

Step 7. If together you come up with any ideas about how to proceed, discuss how effective each of you believes those ideas might be. Ask him what he anticipates would be the outcomes of those ideas.

Step 8. If he decides to try one or two, make a time 2 – 3 weeks in the future when you might talk together about how it is going. Ask him if there is anything he wants from you during that time period in terms of support and decide if you can offer what he wants. Refrain from reminding and coaxing during that time period unless he specifically asked for that kind of help.

Step 9. Do your best during this process not to catastrophize in your own mind or with your son. See this as a challenge to address together and remember to consistently celebrate his positive behaviors and contributions. And listen, listen, listen.

Clearly your child may not engage at all. In that case, go back to ground zero and continue to focus on keeping lines of communication open. Or you may go through a few of the steps and he may just stop there. Keep in mind that homework and school progress belongs to your child and you will best remain a consultant and cheerleader. If you see more of an academic decline going forward, express your concern and try a meeting with teachers that includes your son. If all else fails, talk with the school psychologist or social worker to make sure you aren’t seeing symptoms of bigger concerns. If indeed you do suspect bigger issues, press your school to complete a comprehensive assessment to get clear about what is needed.

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climbing out of cribAre we ready for a big girl/boy bed?

When a child climbs out of the crib, it can be a safety challenge. This can be hard to prevent and some parents use this as a cue to transition to a toddler bed, which is lower to the floor. Parents need to consider what their long term goals are for their toddler:  If you want him/her to stay in his/her room, you need to be ready to help the child stay there. Access to the door is increased with a toddler bed. Sleep experts recommend parents purchase a doorknob grip to help prevent this.  Sitting outside the door for a time may be needed to redirect a toddler who is reluctant to stay in the new bed.  Redirect calmly, limiting contact to a few minutes, repeating a routine phrase, such as:  “I need to keep you safe in your bed. Lie down in your bed, honey.”  Hum a quiet melody for a minute or two; gently rub his/her back. Leave quietly, without speaking, and close the door. Be prepared to stay by the door until the child has settled.

 

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When the weather takes a turn for the worse, children often turn to video games or television for their entertainment. Instead, take advantage of your kid being stuck inside to educate them with fun activities. Thanks to search engines and online platforms such as YouTube, there is a never-ending wealth of ideas to keep your child entertained while teaching them valuable academic and life lessons. Make their learning fun with some hands-on interactive education that your family can enjoy.

1. Get Out the Musical Instruments

According to Parents, learning an instrument can help improve children’s academic skills, develop their coordination and motor skills, refine their self-discipline and practice patience. There are numerous websites providing online music lessons for almost any instrument imaginable. You and your kid can even learn an instrument together, helping each other as you follow tutorials online.

2. Let Them Stretch Their Artistic Muscles

Kids love to draw and craft. These artistic activities let them work with their hands, express themselves, and explore their imagination. Luckily, there is no shortage of fun DIY ideas online to get your kid involved in art. You can even look up some drawing tutorials for kids to help them hone their fine motor skills. Also, painting videos for kids can teach them about color mixing and palettes.

3. Get Them Moving

Keeping kids active will improve their academic performance, cognitive abilities, and help them keep a positive attitude. When it’s raining, try out one of the fun indoor activities suggested by Today’s Parent. Or, look up some kid-friendly exercise videos on YouTube. Kids love dancing, yoga, and bouncing around as they follow the instructor in a fun exercise video. Continue reading

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During a recent online class, a parent asked the questions, “What do you do when your eight-year-old child calls themselves stupid or dumb all the time? I respond with ‘No you’re not‘ but they just say back, ‘Yes I am!‘”

This is a great question and we hear it from lots of parents. Continue reading

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By Ashley Maturo & Amy Kostak.

All children are born with personality traits that remain relatively constant throughout their lives. Some kids are more sensitive or more withdrawn. Others are born more active or more persistent.

But two traits that can change, with a little help from parents, are optimism and resilience. Optimism is a positive outlook and hopefulness; resilience is the capacity to effectively bounce back from challenges. These traits are key components of happiness. The good news is that happiness is a skill that you can teach your children. Continue reading

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By Brynn Rosadino & Amy Kostak, CFLE.

Is your little boy or girl all grown up?
Are you struggling to have a positive, productive relationship with your adult child?

Once your child is 18, you are no longer legally required to support him. However, many adult children live at home and receive both financial and emotional support from their families. While many adult children depend on their parents, hopefully they are also striving for independence. And while parents want their children to successfully launch, they may still be reaching for connection and, yes, even control. With these new dynamics, it can be difficult to set appropriate boundaries while maintaining positive communication with your children when they are adults living at home. And recognizing what you can and can’t control, as well as what you should and shouldn’t control is an important part of this stage. This can be a learning experience for many parents and adult children. Continue reading

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