One of the hardest things about parenting is knowing when to let go. When kids are struggling in school, it is hard to let kids make it on their own. How do you know when you have helped enough? How can you be sure you have given kids all of the tools they need to succeed?
How Much Guidance?
As a rule, younger kids need more guidance than older kids do. However, some older kids need more guidance due to academic struggles, behavioral problems or other issues. Your child’s age, personality traits, the level of support from teachers and many other factors will determine how much you need to intervene.
Use the following checklist to learn how to best help kids help themselves in school.
Questions to Ask Yourself about Your Child’s Level of Independence
- Does your child struggle with academic work in general, fall behind in basic requirements and fail to keep up with schoolwork or projects without being told?
- Does your child have problems getting along with other children during recess or other times that affect their happiness and success in school?
- Do teachers call you to tell you that your child fails to turn in assignments on time?
- Does your child get in trouble with the teacher, get sent to the office or struggle with behavioral issues on a regular basis?
- Does your child get into fights, have failing grades or need more help than should be required for their age level?
Answering these questions is a good starting point to determine the level of intervention and help you will need to give to get your child back on track. Eventually, your goal should be to help your child to solve his or her own problems by teaching her to use their resources that are available to them when they need them.
How to Help
When your child is ready to become more independent, you can empower him to help himself succeed and survive in school.
- Teach kids to ask for help when they need it. Part of being independent is to know who is responsible for what and how these people can help them. Teachers can help children struggling with schoolwork, for example, but only if they know the child needs help. Teach them who to go to when they need something.
- Teach children how to be assertive. If they are being bullied, for example, you should tell kids that it is ok to tell the bully to back off in a firm voice and warn them that they will report them if they continue to bother them.
- Teach kids to take pride in themselves and their schoolwork. Staying organized, being on time and turning in assignments on time are three of the tasks kids should always try to do in order to be self-sufficient.
- Remind your children that you are there for them, no matter what. Kids who feel secure in this knowledge are more confident and independent. Communicate that you believe in them and have confidence that they will succeed.
- Ask for help from administrators, counselors or other school support staff when needed. Kids are not the only ones who need help sometimes. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance when you feel overwhelmed or if there is a problem that you need to help your child with.
Finally, remember that you never stop being a parent. No matter how old, how independent or how self-assured your children become, they will always need the love and guidance of their parents. The ultimate goal is to have well-rounded, confident kids who need you less later than they do now.
It is a goal that is sometimes far into the future. Encourage, praise and support your kids so that someday they can fly without you.