Parents and children can have mixed emotions about returning to school. For children or teenagers, it’s a chance to see their friends and break some of the monotony of summer, but it also means facing homework and schoolwork. For parents, there can be a sense of relief but also possibly a dread of homework battles and schedules.

Tip #1:

This is a good time to discuss any struggles with morning or evening routines you may have had in the past. If your child does not get ready on time, have a discussion with them now to find out their expectations and thoughts on the matter. Without correction or judgement, let your child explain their expectations. If they say, “It’s too early, I want to sleep longer”, find out what their proposal would be to get to school on time. When you focus on your child or teenager solving their own discomfort, they feel a sense of control and it will be difficult for them to defend unreasonable expectations.

Tip #2:

Remember that when children go to school, they are going to their workplace. And as with most adults, we need time to transition when we come home. Maybe to get outside, relax, play; it’s important that children and teenagers be given the space to take a break. They have been sitting in a classroom all day. If you expect or pressure them to do their homework or chores right away, they may resent it and become resistant.

If they refuse to do homework or “forget”, work with your child to discuss your self-discipline techniques to do something you don’t enjoy. Most do not find homework or chores enjoyable, so take time to empathize with their feelings yet coach them towards building skills to push through the feelings. This may be teaching them how to break up their assignments into smaller chunks with breaks, playing music with chores, or having them setup their schedule. If you fall into the role of “making sure” they do their work, they will not take ownership and it will become a battle. No one wants a battle!

Tip #3:

On weekends, plan outings with your children or teenagers. Spending time together helps reinforce your relationship. It’s important that you and your child remember it’s not all about the grades or chores, that you care about them and care about how they feel and what’s going on in their life.

For instance, your elementary child or middle schooler may be experiencing bullying and/or feel lonely and need help. In middle school, preteens are highly focused on building social connections and friendships which they need. Sharing your experience of making good friendships can be helpful and show that you recognize what is important to them. In high school, teenagers should be carrying most of their responsibilities and it is a great time to enjoy time together.

Remember, children are people too. They have reactions to events in life just as adults and they are much more like you than you may realize. Be with your child in support as you would wish if it were you.

JFS Orlando offers individual, couples, and family counseling on issues including parenting, family conflict, and divorce. Please call (407) 644-7593 ext. 247 or email Ashlyn.Douglass-Barnes@JFSorlando.org to learn more about our services.


Author: Brenda Chappell

Brenda Chappell is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. She specializes in working with adolescents, children, and their parents with a variety of issues such as depression, anxiety, poor school performance, divorce, and grief. She has worked with children at home and schools, at domestic violence shelters, and with adults in office outpatient therapy. Brenda holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a specialty in Play Therapy.