One of the toughest challenges about parenting is ushering your child through their academic year without losing your sanity. Homework arguments end up being one of the bloodiest battlegrounds, and with the rising availability of a dizzying amount of technological mechanisms being a firm but kind parent is difficult. It can feel like you are trying to have ground rules with a technological addict at times. Here are 10 ways you can preplan the academic year with your child so you both have an agreed-upon sense of the weekly and yearly flow. Remember, the more you frontload and plan ahead of time the more you can prevent arguments, tantrums, meltdowns, and sleepless nights.
1–Minimize extraneous (non-academic) technology usage during the week. Letting your child have unrestrained access to technology is a recipe for disaster. I have found things like the Ipad to be about as addictive as crack Cocaine. You MUST have firm guidelines, and one of them should be that during the school week, technology access will be very limited if present at all. This may require having all technology mechanisms stored away from your child, including their phone which they can play video games on. Really go over with them the actual time they have to do sports, eat, chores, and homework before even addressing what time they have to do technology. It is often best to have a visual calendar of one week that goes from six or 7 AM to 10 PM or 11 PM at night, where you show them how limited their time is to get their homework done, participate in sports, eat dinner, etc.
I have attached an Excel sheet that you can edit and use to get your week organized for this year. Yes, we are awesome and giving out useful freebies!!!!
Click here for the Free Weekly Schedule-Blank
Link to more information on technological ground rules: https://www.doctorbrunner.com/parenting-ground-rules-with-technology-use-to-minimize-fighting-and-maximize-character-development/
2– Have a chore chart that is placed on the refrigerator and on your child’s bathroom mirror. Have a family meeting where everyone discusses what everybody’s going to be doing in the morning and in the evening so that you maximize the chances there is an appreciable amount of Family Harmony. You can go to the following link if you want some guidance on how to set up a chore system for the family: https://www.doctorbrunner.com/tired-of-reminding-your-kids-to-do-chores-10-steps-to-a-chore-system-that-runs-itself-and-teaches-your-kids-inner-discipline/
3–Talk with your child about things that that did not go so well the previous school year and plans you will make together for this upcoming school year to prevent the same problems from occurring again.
4–Confirm with your child the times when they feel it will be best for them to do their homework, and then actually schedule that time in on the weekly calendar. This will help prevent homework warfare. Be crystal clear about what they need to have done both in terms of homework and chores before they have any access to technology.
5–Get clear with the other involved parent or parents about what responsibilities each parent will take ownership of, to minimize interparental conflict on those weeks when there is a staggering amount of homework. For example, sometimes one parent is better with doing math homework and the other parent is better with English. If parents are divorced, you need to make sure you have something very clear hammered out so the child does not exploit any daylight existing between the parental approaches to homework.
More about divorced parents and being unified: https://www.doctorbrunner.com/if-divorcing-means-divided-parenting-and-split-households-a-disaster-will-be-forthcoming/
6–Get clear with the same parents about where there may need to be flexibility and the lowering of expectations on particularly mentalhealthdrugs.com difficult weeks during midterms or final exams. For example: parents agreeing that when weeks are really intense, lowering expectations regarding how clean or organized the house needs to be. This can also help parents keep their sanity.
7–Schedule some fun getaway trips or weekend adventures before the academic year begins so your child has things to look forward to even before they begin the first day of academic warfare. Having something to look forward to can help your child sustain their energy when they feel like they are running on empty.
8– Discuss with them what your exact expectations are regarding their performance in school. It is okay to be a family that expects higher performance, but it is important for you and other involved parents to clarify exactly what ultimately matters the most. I often notice that parents get way too over focused on grades, and under focused on the more meaningful and futuristically predictive set of transportable skills that will truly help them be successful more than grades, such as: internalizing a strong work ethic and moral code, constant and vigorous attention to detail, high frustration tolerance even when feeling significantly challenged, humility toward those who know more, and a sense of hunger to learn. If your child is imbuing all of those qualities but can only earn a C (like I did) in high school calculus, even after they work with a tutor, then that is the time where, as parents, you need to have a reasonable perspective. This is not to say you should be a softy, but it is to say that breaking your child’s Spirit is not good parenting.
9– Remember that one of the most important ways that you can be Truly Present to your child is at night when they are going to bed, when all of their anxieties tend to come to the surface, when their mind cannot be filled with the busyness of the day. So many parents do not regularly utilize that Magical Time to really lay on the bed or sit with their child and talk with them in a way that makes the child feel that no matter what happened that day, they are loved and they are the most important person to that parent in the whole world. This is a time when absolutely no interruptions, no emails, no texting, no TV shows, no distractions should come into play. You know you’re doing this well when your child would be able to say to others who are interviewing them about you the parent, the following: “I’m the most important thing to my parents in their whole lives.”
When they can say that, you have given them something that grades won’t – a core sense of self-esteem with which they will weather even the most grueling storms that life will throw at them. And the storms will come.
10– Make a list with your child of the really fun things they want to do on the weekends so you create a weekend bucket list that will help both of you get through the year. You can set benchmarks for them also, and depending on how they perform on certain things, suggest to them that they might earn particular kinds of things, that are beyond activities if they reach certain extraordinary benchmarks.
For over 10 years Dr. Brunner has helped make parents laugh even as they’re working hard to keep their sanity in a world where parenting is an increasingly crazy business.