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Stress and students:What Every Parent Should Know

One third of students in a long term research study were found to have moderate to severe symptoms of stress.  Signs of stress included feeling worthless, being nervous, thinking things were hopeless, and being so depressed that nothing could cheer them up.  Older students were also worried about student debt and the job market.

One third! And the number is rising!  This is a big problem.

Stress has long term consequences on a student’s ability to learn and may even effect his or her health and well being. Stressed out and unhappy students can withdraw and this causes difficulty with family relationships.

It is too easy to say kids are stressed because the list of things he or she is expected to do and to learn keeps on growing.  The real reason is not about what others expect but that students not  not have the skills to solve the problems that are causing the stress. We need to prepare children by giving them the skills they need to cope with the challenges they are facing.

Who can do this? Schools try but they have limits to what they can achieve. Parents must help.  Parents are the ones who can ensure children develop the self confidence and self esteem to know they can handle challenges, to see failures as learning opportunities, and to maintain a good attitude about the future and ward off depression. These are some of the basic skills that all children need.

The problem is no one is helping parents help children develop these skills. Parents are left on their own, trying to do the best they can.  I know, I have work with many parents who are desperate to know what they can do to support their child’s situation.

Before we start to condemn students for spending too much time on social media, teachers for expecting students to do too much, and parents from neglecting to provide children with the support they need we should provide parents with the ways and means of stress proofing children.

Only then will students have the skills they need to handle the challenges that face them on a daily basis.


What you can do when your child doesn’t want to go to school.

Most children are reluctant to go to school at some time or other, but if your child is constantly unhappy about going to school you need to do something to change the situation.

First, let’s look at some of the reasons children do not want to go to school –

  • Is your child being bullied? How would you know?
  • Has there been changes in the family that are causing your child to be concerned?
  • Is your child depressed?
  • Has there been a falling out amongst friends?
  • Is the work too hard?
  • Does she hate her new teacher?
  • Is she genuinely ill?

These are some of the most obvious reasons why a child is reluctant to go to school, but there are probably many others.

Chances are that you have tried cajoling and reasoning and maybe even threatening to get your child to school. But this situation is making you and your child very unhappy and frustrated. You need to discover the cause of the problem and then work out the solution.

I suggest this three step plan –

 How to discover the cause of the problem.

It may be no good asking your child why she doesn’t want to go to school, she may not even be aware of the issues.

Start by thinking of all the reasons she might be unhappy about school. The list above should help. Then gently go through the list and ask her to comment on which of the reasons apply to her. You may get some reaction that helps you understand when you are on the right path. If this doesn’t help you discover the cause go to the next step.

Talk about your feelings about your schooling

Talk about a time when you were reluctant to go to school, make it up if you have to but try to keep it honest. If your child understands that she is not alone in her feelings she might be more ready to open up at talk about her concerns.

 If all else fails – talk to the teacher.

The teacher may be surprised when you explain what is happening with your child, she may not have noticed anything to be concerned about. But you could ask the teacher to keep an eye out for any instances that could be causing the problem, or you could ask the teacher to ask your child about her feelings. A word of warning here – only do this if you know the teacher well and trust her to support your child through this situation.

This process might take some time but it is worth it to discover exactly why your child is unhappy in school.

I worked with parents whose son was often ill in the morning and cried when he had to go to school. He was a bright boy, doing well in class, and his parents were at their wits end to know how to help him. I learned that he hated math, he felt that he couldn’t do the work he was given even though he was getting good grades.

His parents and I were not sure where this fear came from but we knew we had to do something about it.

I directed the parents to a tutor I knew who was very good at giving praise, and after having discussed the situation with her, the parents paid for a few math tutoring sessions for their son. It didn’t take long before he felt better about his math skills and the headaches and crying stopped. He became happy to go to school and, if the situation ever occurred again, his parents knew what to do about it.

Children should be happy to go to school. If your child is reluctant to go to school each morning you need to find out why. You need to treat the cause of the problem, not just try to treat the symptoms.






How to chose the best tutoring program for your child.

Parents often ask me which educational tutoring program they should choose to send their child to. They have heard good and bad things about most of the educational programs out there and want to know which one will work best for their child.

I always reply, “It depends!”

I know that this is not a very helpful answer but it is the best I can do. You see any of the educational programs that parents choose have the ability to help children learn, the problem is they might not help your child learn.

Tutoring services are based on specific educational philosophies. One famous program is set up on the belief that children learn through practice and that given enough practice and small enough steps all children can master certain skills. Others are based on beliefs about the size of learning groups or formal, structured approaches to learning. And they all work. Rather, they all work for some children: none of them work for all children.

Why do they work for some children and not others? It depends (there I go again!) on how children like to learn. Some children learn best in a structured, formal setting while others prefer a more liberal free-ranging approach. Some children like to absorb information step-by-step and some prefer to create learning out of a mess of information and ideas. Some children like to learn by themselves, others learn best in groups where they can chat and share their thoughts.

Children learn in many ways and unless the tutoring service you are paying for uses a way of helping children learn that matches your child’s you are wasting your money. That is why I say, “It depends!”

So, in order to choose the tutoring program that will fit your child’s learning needs first work out how your child likes to learn, then find a program that teaches that way. You will be glad that you did. Your child will be a happy learner and you will see immediate results!

Want to know how your child learns? The quickest way is to ask them. Ask your child what he likes and dislikes about lessons in school and find out if he likes to learn alone, in a group, by looking, by listening or by any of the many other ways children prefer to learn.  You could also take my free diagnostic learning assessment at – you will get the results within minutes.

Then check out how the educational tutoring services teach their students. If there is no match don’t waste your money no matter how good a reputation the company has. Believe me, I have worked with many parents who have spent a lot of money sending their children to tutoring services with little result. Not because the tutoring service was not good, most are excellent at what they do, but because the way the child was taught did not match the way he or she liked to learn.





Top five reasons your child hates homework and what you can do about it

We have all been there. A child has homework to do and really does not want to do it. But I never realized how serious this situation could become until I saw results of an online survey about parents and homework.

The survey indicated that:

  • 10% had no problem getting their child to do their homework
  • 18% had to remind their child to do their homework
  • 48% said that homework was a daily family battle
  • 16% reported that homework often caused a meltdown
  • 8% said that their child hated school because of homework!

These numbers are astonishing. What is going on here? Homework is supposed to be helping not making things worse! Homework should never, NEVER, cause issues with your relationship with your child. Your relationship with your child is far too precious to be threatened by you trying to get your child to do homework.

Now I know it can be difficult. I have worked with families where mothers (it is usually mothers) have been at their wits end trying to find ways to get their children to do homework. The anger and frustration caused by this situation spills out into all aspects of family life and causes all kinds of problems. I have seen parents threaten children with loss of privileges in an effort to get their child to do their homework. I have had mothers in tears on the phone because they don’t know what to do, and even know of mothers who do their child’s work for them rather than having to face the frustration and anger of getting their child to do the work!

What are you to do if your child hates homework? Unfortunately, that answer is not straightforward. It depends on the reasons WHY your child does not want to do homework. Here are five reasons children hate homework and what you can do about them.

1. Doing homework takes time, time that your child would rather spend doing fun things.
Solution – Set a limit to the time your child spends doing homework and stick to it. If your child knows he can stop working at a certain time he will be more motivated to do the work.

2. The homework is too hard and your child does not know how to do it.
Solution. Tell your child’s teacher that your child couldn’t do it so that the teacher can review the work.

3. Homework is ‘boring’.
Solution. This is a difficult because homework often is boring. Again, setting time limits AND talking to your child’s teacher about the issue may help. Children use the word ‘boring’ to cover a variety of situations, you might need to check out why your child thinks homework is boring.

4. Homework is left to the last minute.
Solution. Help your child keep a homework agenda complete with dates for when work has to be handed in. Mark dates on a calendar and work backwards to decide when your child should to start work. Then let your child be responsible for getting the work done on time. Don’t let your child let his problem (no time) become your problem.

5. Books needed for homework are left at school.
Solution. If this happens often it is a sure sign that your child is struggling to learn and feels that the homework is too hard. Talk to your child’s teacher and try to set up a system to remind your child what books are needed but also tell the teacher if your child is struggling with homework.

So, my advice about homework is this-
The amount of benefit your child gets from finishing a homework assignment NEVER outweighs the importance of your relationship with your child. The amount of time you spend cajoling and coercing your child to do their work is counterproductive. There is no way that homework should create tension in a family, and definitely not the kind of meltdowns the survey suggests.
Stop letting your child’s homework cause family problems, it is just not worth it.