How to Help Your Child Thrive at School, Even if They Haven’t Before

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How to Help Your Child Thrive at School, Even if They Haven’t Before.

How’s the new semester going? 

Recently, I asked this of one of our students. He commented that he was happy for the fresh start because he didn’t have to worry anymore about making up for poor test scores or missed assignments. He was ready to do better than he had been doing.

Ahh…I can relate. I love a fresh start too. Don’t you? It is a chance to do better. Be better. Have a new energy.  

Fresh starts usher in a renewed sense of resolve and optimism. The problem is, while optimism is a great start, it alone will not get us where we want to go. We have to change something to get better results. 

How to help our kids thrive and create success. 

First, our kids need to find their own motivation. Without a strong sense of purpose, we all lack direction. So, if our kids never truly think about the reasons that school is important to them, it will always feel like something imposed upon them by adults. Purpose is the driver of action.  

So what can a parent do? 

They can ask questions and listen. They can help their children define their “why.” 

Our kids have to determine their own purpose but we can help. 

Describe your intention to your kids. It might sound something like this. 

“Hey, I know you want to make changes in school. I know it can be difficult sometimes but I also know you can do hard things. When things are hard, it can help if you decide for yourself why it is important, so I am going to help you by asking you some questions. No lectures. I promise. How does that sound?”

Then you ask, “Why is it important to you do well in school?” After your child’s response, the rest of your questions will be a variation of, “Why is that important?”

When they reply, “I dunno.” It is okay to give a little prompting using more direct questions. Continue asking, “Why is that important?” until you arrive at the core of what is meaningful to them. I have heard this strategy called “Seven levels deep.” So, keep asking seven times or until you think you’ve reached their driving force or until they are about to say something rude and storm out the door. 

What works for your kid?

Once a deep connection to a “why” is established, have your student take inventory of their habits. What has worked? What hasn’t? Like many parents, I think you will be surprised by how self-aware your kids are. 

Brainstorm together what specific steps your student will need to take to reach their goals. Based on this inventory, recreate the habits that have brought success and minimize the habits that have hindered it. Together determine a few small changes your child can initiate right away. Maybe they will study for a test over two nights vs. one or they will create a folder just for completed homework so it does not get lost. 

Small habits changes = big impact

To make changes stick, try habit stacking. Habit is always more powerful than willpower. Habit stacking is pairing an established habit with a new one. For instance, if your child’s new action step is to use an assignment agenda, and they have a snack every day after school, then follow snack time each day by reviewing the agenda and making a study plan. 

Because consistency is important, repeat this new habit every day. No homework today? Then use the time to: annotate notes, review yesterday’s math problems, read for 10 minutes, etc. This time is not simply about studying, it is about creating a new and productive habit. Automate the actions that will help achieve goals. 

Celebrate the effort, not just the result.

Build ways for your child to celebrate their own efforts, big and small. Our brains respond well to positive feedback. 

Remember to review the goals.

Like all things, when goals are out of sight, they are out of mind. Place their written goals where your student will see them every day to remind them what they promised themself and to stay motivated.

Free printable to help

We want to do more than simply wish you success. We want you to succeed. We want you to thrive. So, we created a free printable to help you and your child design the goals and action steps that will lead to success at school. Simply follow this link and you’re all set to start goal setting and thrive!

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