Is “homework time” at your house a time for stress? Frustration?
Psychotherapist Dr. Erin Leonard shares a few things parents can do to help a child with homework and test stress and regulate anxiety and negative emotions.
- Help the child identify what they are feeling
Is it frustration because he or she doesn’t “get it?” Is there anxiety about doing the assignment incorrectly and getting in trouble? Perhaps the child is fearful he or she will feel “dumb” when confronted with material he or she does not understand when the rest of his/her classmates seem to easily master it.
After narrowing down the feeling, honor it by saying something like, “You have a lot of work. It is overwhelming. You are not sure where to start.”
“You are frustrated. I can tell. You are not sure how to do this work and everyone else “gets it.” That is frustrating and I bet you feel pretty alone.”
- Reassure, encourage, and partner with the child. Sit with the kiddo for a few minutes until he or she gets started. Occasionally, an empathic presence in close proximity can help transform a child’s negative energy into positive energy.
- Break up the homework into small and manageable parts. Ask the child what the easiest subject is and have him or her take that assignment out. Put the rest of the work out of sight and say, “Let’s just start with this.” After the child completes one subject, he or she may feel less overwhelmed and ready to start another assignment.
- If the child has a melt down in the middle of homework, invite the child to take a 5 minute break and participate in an activity that may soothe and ground him or her.
a. Five minutes of fresh air
b. Cuddling with a pet for 5 minutes
c. Relaxation exercises such as, deep breathing and tensing & relaxing
Helping with Test Anxiety
- Four deep breathes
- Tensing and relaxing
To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/DrErinLeonard/.