Homework can be a common trigger that causes worry and anxiety amongst our children
They may feel overwhelmed, frustrated or express their big emotions which can result in tears, tantrums and meltdowns!
However, we know that reliance is key, not just for our children but for adults too. Mistakes, challenges and setbacks are a part of life, so how can we support our children to embrace their setbacks so that they are taking steps towards improving? By viewing their mistakes as opportunities for growth, rather than a reflection of their self-worth.
Here are some practical tools and strategies to help support your children to help them have fewer of those emotional outbursts.
Explore where in our body we feel anxious or stressed (butterflies in my tummy, heart beating faster, clammy hands etc) and explain that this is a normal response in our body. When we feel like this, instead of giving in to our emotions, we can instead tune into our breathing to help us stay calm and in control.
We breathe in through our nose for seven counts, filling up our belly with air as if its a big balloon, and then breathe out for 11 counts, through our mouth, as if we are blowing out a huge bubble. Repeating this three times helps to lower the feeling of stress and anxiety. It also helps us to stay in charge, rather than get carried away by our stressful thoughts and feelings.
Children are often afraid of making mistakes and may shy away from trying something new or persisting through a challenge. Reframe challenges instead as the perfect opportunity to learn something new.
Instead of saying, “Why me? What’s wrong with me, why can’t I get it right?” encourage children to ask empowering questions instead, such as, “What can I learn from this? How is this mistake able to help me move forward? What am I missing?”
Asking these questions encourages the brain to search for solutions and new opportunities, empowering the children to take action.
As children learn to view their mistakes as learning opportunities you can turn this into a game. At the end of each week encourage your children to share one mistake they’ve made what they’ve learned from it. This is a fantastic activity for the whole family too! It allows your children to see that we all make mistakes and we are always learning from them!
Children often allow their mistakes to become a reflection of their self-worth, eg: “I’m struggling with my fractions homework, it’s too tricky and I keep making mistakes, therefore I must be rubbish at maths.”
However, once children understand that their brain actually gets ‘stronger’ when they are tackling challenging tasks, they are able to view the challenges as an opportunity to grow. Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak is a brilliant story to share with your children, to help them understand how their brain changes and grows when faced with challenges.
When faced with obstacles or failure, children often forget about their strengths and what they are good at. This is a perfect opportunity to help remind children to look at the ‘bigger picture’.
Brainstorm their strengths. What are they good at? When have they succeeded? What do they naturally enjoy doing and find easy to do? A brief explanation of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory also helps children understand that there are many more areas to their lives, and many more opportunities to excel in.
Remind the children that a test score is not a reflection of them and their self-worth. This is just one way in which they are showing the knowledge that they have learnt. The result does not reflect them as a person - they are already more than 'good enough’.
Above all else, encourage the children to have fun, laugh and celebrate the small wins throughout the day. The bumps along the way are not there to slow us down, but rather to help us to learn and grow. By learning to embrace the challenges with a sense of curiosity encourages children to be more open and receptive to new learning and it also help them bounce back quicker when setbacks occur.