What could possibly be good about homework meltdowns, you ask?
I’ve heard a number of great tips for preventing homework meltdowns, or for handling them well when they do arise.
These tips usually include things like
• setting a homework routine
• methods for organizing homework
• taking regular breaks, or
• finding ways to make homework fun.
These are all great ideas. Depending on the reason for the meltdown in the first place, they may actually be helpful.
The reason for the meltdown, incidentally, is where the good news comes in.
If you, dear parent, can look past the exhaustion of homework battles, can look past the fact that your child often starts melting down even before the homework begins, I’d like to offer you a few silver linings.
Silver Lining #1
Your struggling learner is telling you something.
You remember being a kid, right? Did you always have exceptional communication skills? Did you always know exactly how to tell people what was going on with you?
Yeah, neither did I.
You may be thinking, “Well of course my child is telling me something. She’s telling me that she doesn’t want to do her homework. She tells me, in her own special way, that she doesn’t want to do her chores, either.”
True, but humor me for a moment. I’m going to ask you to go quite a bit deeper than that, which brings me to…
Silver Lining #2
Every meltdown contains hidden clues to your child’s unique challenges.
Now you get to play detective. Now you get to uncover what’s really going on.
Maybe your child is exhausted from attempting to appear like a “normal” learner all day at school.
Maybe your child doesn’t understand the assignment. The types of assignments that he resists might be your first clue to where the confusion lies. Likely, though, you’ll have to dig even deeper than that.
For instance, meltdowns around math aren’t necessarily solved by hiring a math tutor. They may actually point to spatial awareness challenges. Or, they may point to weak memory skills, or something else entirely.
Essentially, then, the assignment doesn’t match your child’s current capabilities. We are expecting too much. No wonder your child is melting down.
Have you ever been expected to do more than you were capable of? Maybe your boss expects you to work excessive overtime when you have a family to care for. You have an ailing parent, 3 young children, two dogs, and diabetic cat at home. How do you get it all done? You don’t, and you feel inadequate both at home and at work.
Or, maybe you place high expectations on yourself, trying to be everything to everyone, all while wearing a loving smile. What happens, then, when you get sick? Everyone is counting on you but you don’t have a choice. You have to disappoint them.
As adults, our meltdowns likely don’t look quite as dramatic as the ones our children give us.
Sometimes we polish off entire bags of Oreo cookies.
Sometimes we find someone, anyone, to complain about or blame.
Sometimes, if you’re anything like me, you find yourself aiming a few choice words at your exasperating computer. (I’m still bracing for the day that it starts yelling back at me.)
Eventually we come to our senses. We realize we’ve piled on more than we can handle, and we adjust. Life is good.
Life is not good for overwhelmed children with learning difficulties, though. They not only feel inadequate. They not only lack the words to express the anguish of constant failure. They are powerless to adjust their parents’ expectations, expectations that may be impossible to measure up to.
Only parents can do that, which brings me to…
Silver Lining #3
Parents have all of the power.
When I say that parents can adjust expectations, I don’t mean to lower expectations. I mean let your expectations match your child’s true capabilities.
When I say that children’s homework meltdowns are in their parents’ hands, that’s good news for you. That means, instead of the usual power struggle, instead of wondering how your child is going to react the next time you say, “It’s homework time,” you can choose different steps, and a different perspective.
You can choose to discover what’s underneath all of that overwhelm, and address it. You can recognize that your child’s resistance to do homework may actually be a resistance to, let’s say, climb Mount Everest… in flip flops… alone.
Of course, I wouldn’t suggest that you play detective or attempt to uncover hidden meanings without also offering a way to learn how.
• How do you recognize what the meltdowns are really telling you?
• How do you uncover what’s at the root of your child’s difficulties?
• How do you know what those math, and spelling, and reading challenges are all about, if they’re not actually about trouble with math, and spelling, and reading?
If you’re ready to try something new, or even if you’re only curious, stay tuned for an upcoming free training. Be sure to add yourself to my course waiting list here. Sure, you’ll learn about the new course, but you’ll also learn when that free training becomes available, too.
What’s that? You don’t believe homework without meltdowns is even possible? Perfect! I look forward to changing your mind.