Saturday, March 3, 2012

Help Your Child Succeed at School: Ask the Right Questions

Adina Soclof

We all want our children to succeed at school. In order to do that, we want them to get dressed, eat their breakfast, and get out on time in the morning. Not only that, but we would also like them to pack their lunches, stay organized, and do their homework without a fuss.

How can we do this? You can do this by using the technique of being an “Asking Parent” instead of a “Telling Parent”. It means that instead of telling kids what to do, we should ask them gentle, probing questions that encourage them to cooperate and come up with solutions to their everyday problems.

At the start of the academic year, we are all focused on helping our children succeed at school. Because school is so important to us parents we may revert to be a “Telling Parent”. We may not trust our kids to take school seriously enough and we may feel more than justified in commanding our children to:

“Clean out your backpack. You won’t find anything in that mess!”

“You need to hurry up. The bus is not going to wait all day for you!”

“Do your homework now!”

“How many times do I have to tell you to pack your lunch?”

Commands make children feel anxious, rebellious, helpless and angry. Commands create power struggles and conflict. Instead, we can be an “Asking Parent.” We can say:

“What do you think you can do to keep your bookbag organized?”

“What is the best time for you to wake up so you can get to the bus on time?”

“Where is the best place for you to do your homework?”

“What are some helpful ways to remind you to pack your lunch?”

When you are an “Asking Parent”, you help your child to be accountable for his or her actions. You encourage your child to be in charge of  his/her possessions, the time and the schoolwork. It helps you avoid power struggles and creates good feelings between you and your kid.

When you are an “Asking Parent”, you help kids feel capable and dependable. They may think, “Hey, if my Mom/Dad is asking me what I can do to be a part of the solution, they have faith in me that I can handle my own problems.”

Let’s try being an “Asking Parent”, and help our kids be responsible and teach them that they have it within themselves to be conscientious about their school obligations.
Adina Soclof is a certified speech pathologist and parent educator. Her website offers informative and inspirational parenting workshops designed to help parents create a calm, happy home.

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