How to Help With Academics: Letting Your Child Hear Your Perspective

Parents tell me how they attempt to guide their child with their academics, only to be frustrated by their child’s perceived lack of effort and the conflict that arises. 

One of the major difficulties I have observed is parents not being involved enough or giving specific information to their children.  All too often, I hear parents say, “You need to do this to be successful in your future.”  Those are words that typically lead to conflicted communication because giving orders does not develop a positive parent-child relationship. 

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Instead, it would be helpful for parents to choose a different way of speaking in order to encourage their children to exert more effort in their schoolwork. s The key is to be honest about your own feelings of disappointment or frustration about the situation.

Instead of “you need to…” I would rather the parent say “I notice that you have not been handing in your homework and I am upset about that.”  Once the parents own their own feelings and reactions to the situation, they can talk about why education is important to them. 

Rather than yelling or punishing or rewarding, I would like parents to be more honest in their communication. For example, the parent above might follow up with a discussion about why turning in homework is important to them – they can relate it to the bigger issues of responsibility and meeting one’s obligations. A child has no idea of what the future holds for him or her.  Rather than painting a negative picture about how their future life will be implicated by their lack of study time, parents would be more effective if they join in working with their children on brainstorming ways that the child can improve their organizational and time management skills. 


Let us know how your efforts to help your children with their school work are?


Written by: Dr. Adam Berman, clinical psychologist and a certified school psychologist.  He works with children and their families with regard to concerns about academic effort.  Dr. Berman can be reached at 267.971.1537 or e-mail at

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