Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Focus on the means to an end.

What you can do

Practice helping your child figure out how far he is from the finish line and what he needs to do to get there. What are the very specific steps he can take that will be a means to an end?

You can help him by breaking the task into manageable chunks and making sure he sees how these parts fit together.

What you can say

“Jacob, I know you’re really worried you won’t be able to finish this assignment on time. But let’s step back for a second and look at how much you’ve already done.”

“You’ve already read the book. You’ve already put together an outline of all the points you want to make. And now you just need to write a paper that fleshes out your outline. You can write five paragraphs—an intro, a conclusion and three meaty points in between. I know you can do it.”

Why this will help

Experts refer to this kind of problem-solving as means-ends thinking. Kids who are overly dependent or feel helpless often have trouble looking closely at what it takes to complete a project. They tend to see it as one insurmountable challenge.

That’s why it will help to divide a task into manageable chunks that can be completed one at time. This process, called chunking, will show your child there’s a beginning, middle and end. This kind of roadmap can make the whole project seem more doable.

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