Parent as mentor, not disciplinarian
As parents, it’s difficult to know what approach we should use in motivating our children to learn. Before they begin school, they behave like little sponges, soaking up everything around them. Encouraging them is easy. Then…something happens. Without rhyme or reason, our children enter Kindergarten happy and healthy sponges, and sometime between first and fourth grades, we have to poke and prod, cajole and beg our children to work hard in school. The fun of learning has worn off, and some children actually seem resistant to learning.
The question for us as parents is what we can do about it. When we’ve done all we think we can do to encourage our children, we sometimes devolve to using discipline in an attempt to motivate. “If you don’t do your studies, you won’t be able to play video games.” We hang a threat over our child’s favorite activity in hopes that they will become more passionate about their own academic success. Unfortunately, discipline and threats are rarely an effective way to motivate children, especially our youngest learners.
It’s important to understand the source of your child’s frustration in school. Talk to your child’s teacher to get a better understanding of what is going on in the classroom and what they are seeing in your child’s work. Teachers can give keen insights and possible solutions to try. Second, talk to your child to find out how they feel about school and the different subjects they are tackling in class. Many times, the problem is a lack of confidence in a particular subject matter.
Being a parent-mentor is to be a teacher: to correct your child’s mistakes in a gentle and loving way, to teach him behaviors that encourage good learning habits and to transmit your personal knowledge and lend a hand with schoolwork. Even more, being a mentor is about building your child’s confidence. You can do this in many ways:
1. Act as an advisor, which means listening to your child and answering his or her questions;
2. Provide tips and advice about how to face problems;
3. Praising your child whenever they get an answer right or work through a problem on their own;
4. Guiding your child on how to think through a problem as opposed to giving them the right answer; and
5. Getting outside help for your child when the problem is too big for you to solve on your own.
Boosting confidence is a mentor’s job. You will be amazed at the results you can achieve simply by praising your child for their efforts. Children look to their parents as a critical source of approval. If you give them what they need at home, that confidence will spill over into their school lives and have a positive effect on their academic success.