Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Set limits on homework time.

What you can do

Specify how long your grade-schooler needs to work on a particular task so she knows she’ll only have to face it for that time period. Work to increase the amount of time spent on a task incrementally. Offer to help at any time and also be willing to loop in teachers and other people working with your child so they’re aware of her continued efforts.

It’s important to help your child set accurate and attainable standards for schoolwork and other activities. Make clear that just because your child can’t do all of something doesn’t mean she can’t do any of it. Have an ongoing conversation with her, acknowledging that some tasks seem easier to complete and others cause real difficulty.

What you can say

“Sofia, you seem to be stuck on that language arts assignment, right? Let’s see what’s causing you difficulty. You read the story and I know you understood it because you did a great job telling me what it was about. So that part is done and done well.”

“Your teacher now wants you to write the main idea in just one or two sentences. Is that where you’re stuck? OK, let’s talk it through. Tell me again what you think this story was about. That’s great. You were able to tell me in just two sentences.”

“Do you want me to write down what you said and you can copy it on your worksheet? OK, now I want you to spend the next 10 minutes working on that.”

“Get as far as you can, and if you’re not quite finished when I come back, that’s OK. I’ll write a note for your teacher explaining how much time you spent working on this today and see if she has any new tips for you to try tomorrow.”

Why this will help

A child’s self-image is shaped by personal experiences and by the reactions of others. As a parent, you can help identify and redirect inaccurate beliefs that your child has about herself.

It’s important to set realistic expectations that are based on your observations of your child’s strengths, weaknesses and capacity for the task at hand. Doing this will help your child avoid frustration and develop the perseverance and confidence she needs to stick to the plan and achieve goals.

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