It’s not at all uncommon for parents to share with me that they feel alone, like they are the only ones going through this, and like they are not good parents. Well, you are not alone. You are about to see many of the same themes repeated over and over.
A bit of background: Last weekend I gave a workshop to a big group of parents. It was called Upgrade your Grades, How to turn a rough start into a successful semester. It focused on the topics of executive function and emotional regulation. I chose these topics because I feel they are the most important topics for parents and teachers to truly understand. When we understand them, we understand the legitimacy of the struggles our kids are going through and can thus move towards much better solutions.
Prior to the event, I asked many of them what their biggest concerns were. As you might imagine, many shared similar sentiments. I posted the comments on the wall so people could read them before the talk. Attendees seemed to get so much out of these that I thought I’d post them here. So here you go, a collection of snippets that reflect parents biggest concerns. I hope you enjoy this and find that relating is helpful. You are not alone!
Note: In order to respect privacy, I have removed names and such.
Here we go
“Our biggest challenge is working with our 2E son (TAG & in attentive ADD). Things have been great including grades until whamo! 8th grade and adolescence…. Procrastination, bad attitude, crazier than normal disorganization, no more being able to coast on our background knowledge and now we actually have to do homework but refuse because it’s “boring” overwhelming, “pointless”.
We’ve been to every other local talk on organization. We chunk, color code, use the planner etc but this is our roadblock year. Teachers at conferences say he’s a great kid and it’s obvious he knows or can do the material but he’s not showing it. He says, “I don’t care about my grades.””
“Let’s start with this: 9th grade boy, bright and out of the box thinker. Taking 5 advanced courses, finding most easy to slightly challenging. BUT – has horrible time management and often times difficult focusing (spends all weekend doing what he could do in a few hours). Tends to work better under deadline. Very resistant to planning ahead, scheduling. Not as organized as he could be and won’t take suggestions (he’s got it!) – e.g. keeping track of homework assignments, papers and deadlines. Think he would be a good candidate for the AVID program, but he doesn’t think he needs it. Vague about setting concrete goals. On one hand, doesn’t care about grades, but knows they are important and is then disappointed when he wastes time and either doesn’t finish and assignment, does it late or doesn’t do a good job. Never really learned how to take notes or study for texts – still not sure how he is working through this. Loves school, hates homework and starting to get stressed out and anxious about the load he takes on (which I did not encourage).”
“My son is awesome. Super smart, funny, and a great person. He does struggle with mapping out and planning for his work effectively so that he gets it done in school and at home. Spends a great deal of time on homework, but seems that’s where hes not completing ~he also has a hard time staying focused at school…”
“Our biggest challenge, today, is getting him to care. And it can be a difficult question for the parents as well, i.e.: Why is it important that I write an essay about this book I enjoyed reading? Why should I take notes in math if I know how to do the problem? If they’re not motivated by grades, there’s often not a good answer!”
“My biggest challenge right now is knowing how much to push my high school age son to do things such as turn in work, study for tests, not lose his backpack, etc. He wants me to “back off”, and I really try to let him handle things, but if I talk to him about missing assignments, bad grades, anything, he loses it and tells me to let him handle it and it is a very negative force in our relationship. However, he is not “handling” it on his own. We’ve tried in the past tying things to rewards or consequences and nothing seems to make a difference.”
“Our biggest challenge has been 4th grade. There is a ton more homework (workheets) and they expect them to be more responsible. It started with Math. Her favorite subject. She didn’t do well on the pre-test and could not ask any questions on the test and now she isn’t in the highest Math group. She doesn’t like the way they expect her to do it. She doesn’t love math anymore. Could care less about the homework. She told me she wants to go to a camp that does fun math. (She did however make it into the Math League which she had to test into for 4th and 5th graders after school). Then the teacher said that she doesn’t do well with transitions between subjects. It takes her longer to adjust to be where everyone else is. We have known this about her but just thought is was an asset, this is the first teacher to complain about it.
Now at this point in school, she says she isn’t learning anything new. She is bored at school. They have 4 tests in the spring and the teachers say they will take 8 weeks to prepare for and give. She says, “they are just teaching for the tests” She must of heard another parent say this. She has lost her love of learning.”
“Both of my boys are 2e and have struggled through school. We actually moved to Boulder from VA three years ago to “save” my oldest – he had already reached the why bother stage. Now that he’s entering high school, he’s very quickly coming back to that same stage. He’s bored, he isn’t learning and he can’t justify spending time on work that has no perceived value. He is also organizationally challenged.”
“Thanks for the opportunity to give you a challenging situation. We have a very bright son who puts in no effort, in my opinion. He is disorganized, messy, and does not seem to be bothered by this. He leaves a trail where ever he goes and as many times as we remind him over and over we still get the same results. He is in 6th grade, his locker and desk space is so messy that in one class his teacher has him check in with him before he leaves the class to make sure his area is clean. Because of this situation his papers & planner are a mess….I think you get the picture. He really needs help with executive functioning skills, that’s why you peeked our interest. He is so smart that he manipulates us all and some how rarely gets anything accomplished (without our help) here is the key, unless it is something that he wants to do like play hockey or video games then it is important to him.
I hope that is considered a big challenge, I am at a loss.”
“Biggest challenge… It’s exactly what we are facing, where we need to step in seems to be at a level that makes him miserable and then creates lots of tension and unhealthy dynamics..”
“Glad to share. Our biggest challenge is having an extremely bright child who has very little interest in learning. He is denying everything that defined him for the first 13 years of his life. He longs to be “normal” and goes out of his way to hide both his strengths and his challenges. He is very perceptive and can produce whatever image is cool to his friends. From his perspective: he isn’t learning/he’s already had the material/it’s boring/I’m not going to spend 4-5 hours doing homework every night just to prove that I can do it/I know the content.Organization and keeping track of assignments is next biggest challenge. Assignments are always changing/due dates shift/details are overlooked…”
“My son’s biggest challenge is executive function related organizational issues. He is advanced in school, but fell apart after missing a week of school when he was sick. Papers are crumpled in the backpack, etc..etc..”
“My daughter has ADD and some learning challenges as well—poor handwriting, lack of interest in school, poor self-esteem…anything could help!”
“My son seems to be able to do his homework regularly and with ease. What seems to be the great divide for us is getting him to “do his best work.” Presently he doesn’t study for tests, take notes, proofread his work, etc, but still manages to pull decent grades.
“Awesome. Our biggest challenge with our ninth grader is if he forgets to turn in an assignment, he has no way to remind himself to get it turned in on his own. We have tried many different planners and ways for him to be independent with reminders, but we have yet to find a system that works for him. Therefore we spend a lot of time monitoring grades when we feel like he is old enough to self monitor. But he consistently shows that he needs a moderate amount of our intervention to succeed. I would like to decrease that parental support to a minimal level.”
This week’s challenge is to write out your child’s biggest challenges in a journal. Then identify and reach out to someone who is going through something similar. You can find someone in person or there are many places online that may feel safer. Consider searching Facebook groups, web forums, Meetup.com groups or even Pinterest.
Join the conversation
What do YOU think? How do you describe your child’s biggest challenges? Add your voice below.