Archive for February, 2011

There is a powerful similarity for many people in the habit patterns they developed in school and how they react and respond in a work and business setting. Is it ever too soon to develop these good operating habits?

If your child struggles in school with time management and organizational skills, chances are those battles will carry over into adult life. While many people are said to have matured or”grown out of it,” it may have just been a successful adaptation to the adult workplace challenges. That doesn’t mean it came easy. Many adult continue to struggle needlessly with these challenges because if good work habits had been developed in school it could have been much easier to succeed in the adult workplace.

It will have a tremendous positive impact on your child’s life if you are willing to help them develop these success skills and habits during the school years.

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The most important reason 2nd semester success is important is that your child or teen will carry that feeling of victory or defeat through the summer and into the next school year. It may be just a general feeling of confidence or insecurity. Or there may be vivid memories of specific successes or failures.

This factor is particularly important as the student completes the transition grades leading into middle school or high school. Those transitions usually provide enough of a jolt that the student needs as much advantage going into those new school environments as he can possibly get.

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The question of whether your child should watch TV while doing homework was pretty simple and straightforward. That was a definite “NO” under any and all conditions. Music, however, is quite another matter.

First and foremost the type of music makes all the difference. Students will have widely different levels of success with the many different types of music. Some students can manage to listen to some of the music they hear for fun and still get SOME types of assignments done. A student who can handle certain assignments with music may be completely unable to focus on other types of work.

In some cases the only type of music that will work is very limited classical music. There are actually superlearning methods that are based on the use of limited selections of classical pieces and that particular music has been proven by research to stimulate learning.

With music you just need to try it out but be careful to keep focused in conversations with your child or teen that the homework is first. He will need to be performing at his best with the music. Remind him that some types of homework and studying might work with music while other assignments will not. If his performance on the schoolwork is good the music can stay but if not it goes. Point out that it is in his interest to choose carefully both with regard to the music itself and avoid songs that are distracting. He will also want to use very good judgement on which assignments can be done with music and which ones cannot.

You will have to watch very carefully and use your own judgement. When in doubt leave the music out. Success on the homework comes first. Recreation comes at a different time.

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Don’t say,  “Well because of the ADHD he can’t … ”  A diagnosis is useful to let you know some of what he might be struggling with but it is very important not to let that create false limitations.

When you know your child finds certain things to be a struggle that is worthwhile information.  It will help you guide him to his areas of strength and help him learn to steer around his areas of weakness.  It is important not to expect a lower level of achievement but instead to observe with curiosity and interest some things that will be both different and wonderful.  Don’t miss out on that.  You really want to see his whole show.

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If your child seems to drag or be slow to start homework and stay with it until it is done, you need to help her find some energy.  There actually is something concrete you can do to make this happen.

An often overlooked opportunity is to simply make sure the child is looking at the homework in digestible pieces and not just one big mountain of unmanageable stuff.  You may need to give some attention to helping your student break down the work because there is often lack the skill or ability to back away and see the pieces as small individual tasks.  It all just looks like one huge list of stuff to be done.

One way you can help her break it down is to suggest putting each assignment on a separate 3×5 cards.  The next step is to choose one task which will be done first and then turn all the other cards face down.  There are numerous other ways you can help her isolate and then complete one task at a time. 

The completion will create more energy if it is recognized and acknowledged.  This can be done by the student or with added encouragement and appreciation from you.

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In a word NO!  In Hollywood the highest value is “grab their attention.”  The writers, directors and producers of the shows your child is watching are brilliant at getting and holding your child’s attention.  how do you know they are incredibly good at what they are doing?  They are on the air!  That means they are the best of the best at capturing and holding your child’s attention.  You probably prefer that some of those attention units be directed at the homework.

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It is important to look at the cause of your child’s procrastination on starting homework because each of the 2 primary causes has a very different type of solution.

First you have the student who procrastinates due to distractions.  These can be after school activities, phone calls, texting, video games, TV or a host of other things they can do that are perceived as more fun than doing homework.  This delay in starting homework is based on pleasure.  “I’m having fun and I don’t want to stop what I’m doing!”

The solution for the distraction delay is in getting agreement with your student on which things will happen when.  Then those agreements are written down.  After that it gets easier to point to the clear fact that your student has run out of time in the fun time block and the homework time block is about to begin.

The second type of homework procrastination is based on distaste, fear or dread.  The child has had negative experiences with his ability to get the work done in a reasonable amount of time with an acceptable level of effort (from his perspective.)  This is an avoidance based delay and must be dealt with in a very different way.

If your child is procrastinating on homework in an effort to avoid feelings of “I’m not good enough” or “this is SO hard,” then you need a completely different approach to get the homework started on time.

This needs student support, encouragement and good tools and strategies to make the work easier and more manageable.  These solutions will not be centered around time and scheduling.

If your student seems to have both reasons for procrastinating, look to see how much avoidance is present and work on solutions in that area first.  You can also do quick simple scheduling too but be sure to find out as much as you can about what is making the homework unpleasant and feeling like frustration or failure.  You will want to get tools and strategies right away to help him have an easier time with doing the homework.

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If you have a child who struggles with giving appropriate response when he feels challenged, consider  this tool.  We’re all very familiar with multiple choice questions.  But let’s look at a simple tool you can teach your child quickly and easily.  It’s called “Multiple Choice Answers” and can be used in advance of a drama or on the spot.  Let’s see how it works.

Situation:

Your 12 year old son is about to sit down to watch American Idol.  (This is important.  After all he has to be “in the know” tomorrow about what happened.)  Problem: The two large trash cans have to be rolled down to the street tonight and he has to collect trash from every wastebasket and trash can in the house before taking the big garbage cans down to the curb.  That will take him 15-20 minutes if he moves quickly.  If he does the whole thing after American Idol that puts him past his bed time.  Perhaps you see the potential drama unfolding here.  You are feeling frustrated and annoyed.  (Of course same or similar events have happened before.)  Your son typically blurts out a semi-hostile or downright rude answer.  Then you have to deal with that too!

A simple solution can be to work out with your son a set of “Multiple Choice Answers.”  When you state that the trash has to go first and then he can watch his show, here are some possible answers he could give you:

1.  Not on your life old lady!

2.  Do it yourself.

3.  Would you help me tonight, by gathering the downstairs trash and I’ll grab the upstairs wastebaskets and the roll the cans down to the street?  Pleeeeease, Mom.

4.  What if I pull together some of the wastebaskets now, some on the commercials, and then roll the cans down after the show.  Then I would only be 5 minutes late getting to bed and I promise to do it earlier next week.

If you don’t have this in place before this event takes place, try making up multiple choice answers on the spot and let him pick.  (Remember to have some humor now.)  This simple “Multiple Choice Answers” tool can difuse many a battle before it gets started.  Developing this skill and habit also gives you and your child some powerful confidence builders to help him deal with situations at school and in after school activities.

If you remember to crack a smile now and then and let your child help create the list of answers you can eliminate a lot of stress for both of you. 

 

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As we rush from place to place and thing to thing it is easy to forget that the little things add up to a big result.  It is so easy to let small tasks fall between the cracks because they don’t seem urgent or even important.

If you can take that extra moment before speaking to your child to look at the situation through his eyes that can make all the difference.  You may just be making a simple comment or request but taking that split second to step into your child’s shoes can be a powerful message of love and support.  You never know what kind of day she has had.  That unspoken message of love may come at a very important time.

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Perhaps your child has had a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD.  Maybe you are just noticing some struggles your child is having and you are beginning to wonder.  First let’s get clear on the difference in ADD and ADHD.  ADHD is “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” which means unusually high physical activity levels at least most of the time.  ADD refers to people with many of the same distractibility traits as the person with ADHD but notice the missing “H” or the lack of hyperactivity.  To make matters really confusing the official designation of “ADHD Inattentive” refers to people with the distractibility but not having the hyperactivity.

The reason it is important to be clear about the distracted child’s activity level is that both the learning and daily activity strategies and medications if used will be quite different for the two different types of child. 

The best strategies for helping a child with high levels of activity will center around helping him structure or limit the direction of his activities.  If your child has low activity levels you are looking at much more of a motivation, encouragement and support based approach for helping her get organized for academic success.  Often, but certainly not always, boys tend toward hyperactivity and girls are frequently underactive or have normal activity levels.

Both types of activity levels will be helped by some common strategies such as advance planning followed by step by step monitored follow through.

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