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A Guide to Helping Kids Stay Motivated in School

With school back in full swing, it can be difficult for parents to keep their children motivated. If you are a parent who is in recovery or working through treatment, helping your child complete their schoolwork or stay motivated at school can be especially difficult. However, school is very important, and being able to motivate your young students is vital.

Build Up Their Strengths

Every child has strengths, regardless of their grades or attitudes. Determine what your child’s strengths are and continue to build them up. This positivity and praise from you help build self-esteem in your child and remind them that they are valuable people with potential. As they adapt to new skills and overcome obstacles, celebrate them. Acknowledge when you see your child making good choices and working hard. They will not forget those positive affirmations.

If their strength or interest is not school-related, it may be related to an extracurricular activity. Many extracurricular activities have grade requirements to be able to participate in them, which may be a great motivator for your child. Encourage your child to participate in these activities and be their biggest fan when they succeed.

Validate Their Feelings 

It is okay to validate how your child is feeling and say, “I know it’s hard.” School will always be harder for some kids, and that is nothing out of the ordinary. Think of an example in your child’s life when something was difficult and they figured out a way to overcome it. Then tell them they are strong enough to get through this obstacle, too. Remind them that it is okay to not know the answer and that you will love them through it.

Allow Them to Make Mistakes

Mistakes are normal, and it is okay to allow your child to make mistakes. School is one of the best places for kids to learn and make mistakes. For example, if your child is prone to procrastination and you know they did not get something done when they needed to, it is okay to let them fail once. If they know the expectations, they know they should not have procrastinated. Explain that it is their responsibility to complete their schoolwork and they can always ask you for help if they need extra support.

Shaming, blaming, and punishing may create distance rather than teach your child how to improve. If you are having trouble allowing them to make mistakes, ask for a meeting with their teacher or counselor with your child present so you can collectively make a plan for future improvement.

Communicate With Their Teacher

Teachers see and work with your child every day and may have further insight into why your child is struggling. Start by sending an email introducing yourself to your child’s teacher. Express your concerns about your child’s needs and ask what you can do to help. If you fear that the teacher is the issue, meet with them first so you can determine that for yourself. A teacher should be fair, professional, and always have your child’s best interests in mind. If you feel they are not acting professionally, you may want to escalate through the proper channels.

If there are parent-teacher conferences at any point, make sure you are present and that your child knows you are there. Even if your child says they do not care, they will remember that you took the time to talk to the other adults your child sees every day. If you have a good rapport with their teacher after a meeting, tell your child that you liked them. It is heartwarming for children to know all the adults in their life are working together and appreciate them.

Meet Their Emotional Needs

In order to be successful at school, a child’s needs must be met. This includes their basic needs, like food, shelter, and clothing, as well as their emotional needs. If you are having a hard time connecting emotionally with your child, consider attending family therapy with them. With busy schedules and the chaos of life, sometimes parents can feel alienated from their children, even if they live in the same house. This is okay – it just means you have some reconnecting to do. Talking with a family therapist can be a very eye-opening and healing experience for you and your child.

You may also want to consider meeting with your child’s school counselor. A school counselor can give you and your child techniques for success in school and beyond. Keep in mind that a school counselor is there to meet the needs of your child, not the needs of adults in the child’s life. If you feel that your situation is beyond the school counselor, family therapy is likely your best option.

Struggling with motivation in school isn’t a new concept. If you’re a parent and you aren’t sure how to help your child manage school, that’s okay. If you’re a parent who is struggling with addiction or emotional issues, ask for help. It’s always in the best interest of the child for their parent to be mentally and physically healthy. Having a healthy, functioning adult in their life helps a child feel safe enough to focus and succeed in school and other areas. At RECO Intensive, we understand that parents sometimes burn out and that co-occurring mental health and addiction issues are overwhelming to deal with. In order to meet the needs of your child, you need your own strategies for success. The professional staff and experienced alumni at RECO Intensive can offer in-house or outpatient treatment options that are specifically catered to you. Don’t wait, call RECO Intensive today at (561) 464-6533. Let’s get back to a brighter future.

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