Tag Archives: parenting tool

When A Student Avoids School Work

 

Recently a client’s father was concerned. His child was avoiding schoolwork and becoming very anxious when it was time to complete school or homework. He was at a loss as to why this was happening.  So we had a chat about the patterns of behavior and ways to help.

When kids refuse to complete a school task there is always a reason. No, it is not because they are “lazy” or “bad”. It may take some digging, but finding out why this is happening can help you set up a plan to help your child.

Is there a trigger in the schoolwork?

Sometimes children are unable to complete a task because it is considered gross, scary, or has a topic/word they feel uncomfortable around. Adjust the assignment when possible. If writing about ducks triggers a child, change the topic to a different animal. If writing by hand is a trigger because it hurts or feels weird due to sensory issues, then allow typing or allow the child to speak the words instead.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Is executive functioning an issue?

Executive functioning skills must be strong in order for children to complete multi-step tasks, especially if they must figure out the steps to complete a task. If a child needs to write an essay, they will need to come up with a topic, outline the main idea and details, create sentences, edit the writing, then turn it in. This can be an overwhelming task if executive functioning skills are not yet strong. Help by sitting together to make a to do list, in order, for the activity. Break the task into different hours or days. Do something fun in between as well to have a break from the difficult task.

Is there anxiety because it is a new task?

Many times people become worried or anxious over a new task. This can occur for clear reasons or simply be a feeling with no clear reason. Either way, it is important to recognize the anxiety and how bad that feels. Ask how you can help. Offer alternatives when possible such as a different topic, different way to show understanding of the material, and offer a longer amount of time in which to complete each stage of the task.

Is there anxiety because someone is demanding the child complete the assignment?

When someone appears oppositional it may be due to anxiety, Pathological Demand Avoidance, or Oppositional Defiance Disorder, as well as other reasons such as feeling ill. Be a teammate rather than someone who demands immediate compliance. What steps can you take together to assist without doing the work for the child? Will taking short breaks in between every 3 sentences written help? Will drawing work more easily than cutting and gluing a project? Think outside of the box if possible. Give time between a task and the completion time for a task. Consider writing it down or using graphics and pictures to show what to do in steps, then give time to complete the task. Pressing the issue and repeating oneself to a child can build pressure in the child and trigger a feeling of unworthiness, anxiety, or even opposition in some kids.

Does the child not see the value in the activity?

Sometimes people need to see the link to everyday life or their goals before a task seems worthwhile. Consider using hands-on activities, creative presentation options, mentorships, real life experience through field trips, etc. These activities can help students see why topics such as division are necessary to their every day lives and motivate them to tolerate or willingly ask to practice life skills and academic activities. Sometimes a new perspective or having someone who is not mom or dad say that a topic is important can help as well. AN internship may be an additional step if a mentorship is working well for your child.

Is distraction happening even when the child is interested?

Distractions can cause a  lot of stress for teacher and student, parent and child, leaving everyone stressed and tired. Consider adding in a favorite type of music at a low volume if our child works better with background noise, but consider taking away sounds like tv or music if they distract. You may want to try using a white noise machine or headphones to block sounds, depending on if your child does better with or without background noise. Remember that becoming distracted easily is not usually something a child can control so punishment and anger will not solve this issue. Take a breath, or 10, then come back to the issue and help your child get back on task. If a task is taking a long time, consider completing the task in short bursts of time. Break down the task. You can also talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about a special need being present and request a referral for testing. If there is a special need, there may be medical and therapy alternatives available to assist your child. This is your choice and I cannot recommend that you do or do not. However, if concerned, consider this option.

Helping our children become life-long learners can be a challenge. Sometimes things do not go as planned, Instead of becoming agitated because our children are seemingly not listening, let’s consider why their tasks are not being completed and work with them to solve these issues. Alfie Kohn and Dr. Ross Green have fantastic books which address some of these issues.

 

For evaluations and consultations, contact Melissa, The Reading Coach!

Melissa Packwood, M.S. Ed. Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Melissa Packwood, M.S. Ed.
Photograph by Alexandra Islas

 

I earned my master’s degree in reading and literacy as well as an ESE graduate certificate. I hold a current teaching certificate and am working on my dissertation for my PHD in general psychology. As a consultant and reading coach, I focus on early childhood education, elementary education, reading and literacy, study skills, thematic units, and social skills. Additional services include public speaking, transcript preparation, and more. I look forward to putting my teaching experience and degrees to work for you.

Please contact me with questions or to request services.

You can also contact Melissa, The Reading Coach at 407-712-4368

Parenting Tool: Reframe the Issue

reframe the question

One day my middle child took a very looooong time getting ready. I checked on her, my oldest child checked on her, my youngest child checked on her and she still was not ready. When she finally emerged from her room, she asked why we were bothering her. I said, “We were waiting on you to go to the park and meet up with friends.” “Oh, I forgot”, she said. “Why didn’t you say that?! I would have hurried up.” I am laughing a little as I write this because all I had to do was remind her of the reason we needed her to hurry up. She did not realize what was at stake. Now I know to reframe the issue in terms my children understand more clearly. Since then I have tried the reframe strategy and it helps a lot. Two examples of ways you can use the reframe strategy are listed below.

 

Situation 1

Parent: It’s time to clean up.

Child: ——–

Parent: The room is messy, clean up.

Child: What? Why?

Parent: Remember that when we have lego blocks on the floor, we step on them and get hurt. Now that you are finished with the legos, we need to clean up.

Child: Oooooh. Oh, right. It hurts to step on legos. Remember when I steppe don the blue one? I cried!

Parent: It does hurt. So let’s clean up.

Child: Okay.

The parent changed the frame from something she wants to a necessity for safety reasons. The adult can also offer to help the child clean up or make the activity into a game about colors, counting, or speed.

 

Situation 2

Parent: Please take the dog outside.

Child: No, I am busy with video games.

Parent: The dog needs to go outside to run otherwise he will chew our new toys because he will be hyper. My hands are full so I cannot do

Child: I am still playing video games, but I could do it in 15 minutes when I am finished with the games.

Parent: That sounds helpful and soon enough that the dog will be okay. I like that you offered a solution that works for both of us instead of sticking with “no”.

The parent did not back down when help was needed, however by explaining the situation in different terms, the child was better able to understand the parent’s viewpoint and offer a helpful solution. If there is no emergency, then it should be okay for a child to say they will help after a particular television show, board game, or phone call is complete. Both parent and child ought to be flexible when problem solving.

For more Parenting Tools, read my ebook titled Expand Your Parenting Toolbox: Create a More Peaceful Home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parenting Tool: Try It Again

again 2

A couple of years ago I began using a picture routine list with my son in order to help him transition from one part of our day to another. It helped with his meltdowns for a short time and then the schedule went to the trash can after a couple months of less than stellar results. As he grew older, he had less transition related meltdowns and I slowly forgot that we once created a schedule for him.

Fast forward to last week. Due to some changes in our lives, my son began having difficulty during our morning and evening routines. He knows the steps of getting ready for his day and getting ready to sleep, but was melting down quite often yet again. I decided to go back through the strategies we tried before in order to find one that helped.

I asked my son if he would like to help me create a new picture schedule for both our morning and evening routines. He agreed. There we sat at 9 PM looking through free photos we could download for our charts. Not only did he feel important, he also felt in charge of his routines. They are the routines I prefer, too. It was a matter of putting the routines on paper again so he could easily refer to them when needed.

Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, winnond, SOMMAI, Serge Bertasius Photography , Sira Anamwong, and foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, winnond, SOMMAI, Serge Bertasius Photography , Sira Anamwong, and foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Since creating the new and improved routine lists, he has had less meltdowns, enjoys trying to read the words we chose to include with the pictures, and reminds me what he has not yet completed. We worked as a team, which means we both won.

The moral of the story is that sometimes a strategy will work for a time, not work, and then work again. Sometimes a strategy won’t work at all, then you try it again years later and it works. Never say never to a peaceful, respectful strategy.

 

Parenting Tool: Wait

This blog post is an excerpt from the new ebook Expand Your Parenting Toolbox: Create a More Peaceful Home which can be purchased on Amazon.com.

 FINAL Cover

I know, this seems strange, but I’m serious.

Wait.

If no one is in immediate danger…

….wait.

Wait for your child to think, then respond.

Wake up a few minutes earlier and wait while your child dresses herself or toilets himself.

Wait.

When calling your children inside for dinner, wait. They may be wrapping up a game or saying good bye to friends.

Wait.

They wait on us quite often at the store, at appointments, while we are at work.

It’s our turn to wait.

Leave long pauses so your child can think and respond.

Leave the pauses so your children can bring up difficult topics they want to discuss.

Wait.

Sometimes we are so busy talking, rushing, or yelling that we forget that patience can help de-escalate difficult situations and help us to better understand our children.

Take a moment.

Take a few breathes.

Wait.

It’s their turn.

Wait.

Listen and wait.