- Do you know a child who’s bright, yet avoids schoolwork like the plague? -
misbehaved child appologizing in the principal's office
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A couple approached me after one of my recent seminars:
We never have any peace. All we do is fight with her about her grades. She can do the work, but she just won’t try. The teachers keep calling and telling us that we need to make sure she does her homework. It’s starting to feel hopeless.
From the dark circles under their eyes and the frustration in their voices, I could tell they were quickly losing faith that anything could help their thirteen-year-old daughter get motivated to achieve. Have you been there as a parent or as an educator?
I replied:
Would you like to hear an experiment that might help?
It was clear that they did, so I shared the steps below:
   Say to your child, “I’ve been discovering that people tend to learn best when they mostly focus on what they are doing right, rather than always dwelling on what they do wrong.”
   Also say, “I think this might help you, too. When you bring your work home, we’ll be looking at what you feel the best about.”
   When your child brings home schoolwork or homework, pay no attention to the wrong answers or sloppy work. That’s right. Pay no attention to the errors.
   Ask your child to share one or two things they did well. If they can’t think of any, pick some. You might have to start small by noticing such things as how they formed a letter, lined numbers up correctly, etc.
   Without gushing praise say, “I noticed that you did this one correctly. How did you do that?”
   If your child wants help with incorrect or incomplete work, help as long as there is no anger, frustration, or arguing. If this starts, say, “This sounds like something you may want to ask your teacher about. I love you! Remember, kids do best when they focus on how they got things right…rather than how they did them wrong.”
   Experiment with this for two weeks and see if this makes things better or worse.
Two months later I received an email from the couple. Here’s an excerpt:
That experiment you shared with us hasn’t solved all of her problems with underachievement. Her grades aren’t better yet, but we are now enjoying each other instead of fighting World War III every evening. That part is really better!
There is hope for underachieving kids. For more pieces to the puzzle, applicable at home and in the classroom, view my new video, Success with Underachievers: Creating Self-Motivated Learners.
Charles Fay, Ph.D. - BiographyThanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.
Dr. Charles Fay
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