Q: Hi, I’m having a really hard time helping my daughter with school. Homework is an issue, and she often struggles with the workload and her grades. She is an average student who tries, but it’s taking a toll on her self-esteem. How can I help her be successful?
A: What does it mean to succeed? How do you measure success? Does that mean everyone goes to college? Does it mean a child can control their anger? Or does it mean finding a way to work with your child without them getting easily frustrated? Does it mean sitting through a whole math class? Or does it mean doing well socially?
Yes. It means all those things, and more!
Success is unique to each person. The complicated piece is figuring out what defines success for each of us. Part of your job as a parent is working to help your child find and become their best self. There simply is not one measure of success. This is one of the most important things for parents to remember. If your child is not doing well in certain areas, do not stress about it. Focus on their strengths. Is there any area that they ARE growing in? That’s success! Help them build themselves up so that they feel good about themselves. If that means they are able to get through their homework — amazing! If they listened the first time to what you asked of them – wow! If they demonstrated good behavior, even once — great! Help build them up so that they can continue to grow.
Here are some tips to help your child grow and feel successful:
Don’t get upset about mistakes, both for you and for them. Everyone makes mistakes, and the important thing is to learn from them, not dwell on them.
Praise the effort. It’s important to let your children know you’re proud of their efforts regardless of the outcome. It takes hard work to develop new skills, and results aren’t always immediate.
Set goals. Be specific by encouraging them to set goals for the day or week. It can be as simple as getting ready for bed at 8 P.M. or refraining from asking you for homework help before they try to do it themselves. Ask them how you can help them achieve their goal. If they accomplish it, praise them!
Share expectations. They might complain, but kids feel more connected and valued when they’re counted on to do age-appropriate jobs, from picking up toys, to doing dishes, to picking up younger siblings from a play date. When they are expected to pitch in, it’s beneficial for them!
Let your child know you love him no matter what. Win or lose, good grades or bad, even when you’re mad at him, it won’t change anything. Making sure your child knows that you think they’re great — and not just when they do great things — will bolster their self-worth even when they’re not feeling good about themselves.
And as always, daven. Don’t doubt the strength of your tefillos.
All these things will help your child on the road to success. Hatzlacha!