When the school year begins, children can experience excitement for their new grade, fears of peers and fitting in, or the dread of homework and tests. This is not too dissimilar to an adult starting a new job or moving to a new city. This is an opportunity for parents to find ways to relate to their children’s emotions and challenges by correlating it to their own similar experiences as an adult.

We all share the human experience, no matter the age. When we can link our own feelings and challenges of today to our children’s, we find a wonderful opportunity to parent intuitively in a way your children will greatly appreciate; through understanding and vulnerability.

It’s not about the homework.

Children work hard all day, sit still, and try not to talk in class. When they get home, the struggle becomes when to do the homework and how to muster the desire. Some parent’s strategy is to have it tackled right away in order to be able to relax the remainder of their day. Some have children wait until after dinner. There is no right or wrong answer, but the solution is stronger when it involves the individual child’s personality and when it gives them a sense of control by selecting the solution.

If adults attend an all-day conference, where do they go at 5pm when it is done? You will likely find them in a place where they can relax and take a break. If they have work to do before the next conference day, they will have to find the self-discipline and self-negotiating skills to do it. They may do it before dinner, during dinner or later before bed. They may change this by day depending on how they feel.

This ability to negotiate with self to do what is needed, and sometimes not fun, is a very important life skill.

Focusing on homework as an opportunity for your child to develop this skill and support them with empathy creates a different paradigm from ‘Get your homework done!’. Putting yourself in a situation that is comparable, like the all-day conference, will give you a mindset of support that is much different than frustrations and power struggles. This also may mean that sometimes your child won’t do their homework and will have to deal with the consequences. After all, adults don’t do everything perfectly either and we weigh the cost of the consequence with the short-term desire. Learning which consequences are too painful is a part of learning this life skill. If we take away this opportunity out of fear of their failure, we take the lesson away also.

There are many news articles stating that parent’s fears are getting in the way of children developing life skills and we need to refocus towards their internal world versus their external performance. When a child learns the self-discipline and self-negotiation needed for homework, it can apply to chores and future tasks. It is a lifelong muscle to value and exercise and, if applied, will yield rewards.

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.

Interested in more parenting or family wellness advice? Call 407-644-7671 or email Sonja.Pollard@JFSorlando.org to schedule an appointment with a JFS counselor today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.


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Author: Brenda Chappell, LMHC

Brenda Chappell, LMHC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Brenda holds a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a specialty in Play Therapy.

Brenda Chappell specializes working with adolescents, children, and their parents with a variety of issues such as child defiance, depression, anxiety, poor school performance, divorce, domestic violence, substance abuse, and grief. Brenda utilizes Adlerian Child Guidance Principals to enable parents to be more effective and to build stronger relationships with their children. Brenda’s strengths lie in her ability to connect parents and children or adolescents through building a shared understanding and partnership.