Parents, avoid using these 8 phrases when helping your children with their schoolwork

It’s natural to want to help your child with their schoolwork. However, the way we communicate with our children during these sessions can greatly impact their learning experience.

There are certain phrases that can inadvertently discourage or confuse your child. These phrases could undermine their confidence, hinder their learning, and even strain your relationship with them.

I’ve identified 8 phrases that parents should avoid using when helping their children with their schoolwork. These common phrases might seem harmless, but they can have a negative impact on your child’s perspective towards schoolwork and learning in general.

So let’s start shedding light on these phrases and explore effective alternatives instead. This way, you can ensure that your words inspire rather than discourage your child when it comes to academics.

1. “You’re just not good at this”

Telling your child that they’re not good at something may seem like an honest assessment, but it’s a phrase that can significantly damage their confidence and motivation.

When a child hears this, they may begin to internalize the idea. They start believing that they’re innately incapable of mastering the subject or task, which can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of encouraging them to try harder, it might make them give up.

Communicate that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s perfectly okay to find some things more challenging than others. Encourage your child to persist, reminding them that it’s the effort and practice that help us improve.

An alternative phrase can be: “This seems challenging for you right now, but with more practice, you can get better.”

By doing this, you’re acknowledging their struggle while also assuring them that improvement is possible with perseverance. This positive reinforcement can boost their morale and motivate them to keep trying.

2. “You’re just being lazy”

Labeling your child as lazy can be detrimental to their self-esteem and motivation. It’s a blanket term that doesn’t address the root of the problem, whether it’s a lack of understanding, fear of failure, or lack of interest.

If your child is procrastinating or avoiding schoolwork, there might be underlying issues that need addressing.

Rather than resorting to name-calling, try to understand the reason behind their lack of action. Ask them about what they’re finding difficult and offer help where needed.

A more supportive approach could be saying: “I’ve noticed you’ve been avoiding this task. Is there something about it that’s bothering you? Let’s figure it out together.”

This kind of constructive dialogue helps your child open up about their struggles, paving the way for solutions and improvement. It also reinforces that you’re on their side, fostering a sense of trust and mutual understanding.

3. “This is so easy, why don’t you get it?”

This phrase can be incredibly harmful to your child’s self-confidence and learning experience. It invalidates their struggles and creates a sense of shame and inadequacy.

When you say, “this is easy,” you’re viewing the situation from your perspective, not your child’s. What may seem simple to you could be challenging for them. This can lead to feelings of frustration and self-doubt in your child, hindering their willingness to learn and grow.

Focus on guiding your child to find the answer instead of questioning their understanding of the material. Commend their efforts and encourage them to keep trying, even when the going gets tough.

Adopting this approach promotes a more positive learning environment, boosting your child’s confidence and fostering a love for learning. They’ll feel more comfortable asking for help and won’t be afraid to make mistakes, knowing they have your unwavering support.

4. “Don’t make mistakes”

While it’s natural for parents to want their children to excel, pushing them to avoid mistakes can create an unhealthy fear of failure. This could lead to anxiety and stress, inhibiting their ability to learn effectively.

Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. They provide valuable lessons and opportunities for growth. Instead of discouraging mistakes, encourage your child to learn from them.

A better approach would be to say: “It’s okay to make mistakes. They help us understand where we need to improve. Let’s see what we can learn from this one.”

By changing the way you respond to your child’s mistakes, you can help boost their confidence and foster a love for learning. Remember, it’s not about being perfect but about continuous growth and development.

5. “Your sibling/friend does this better”

Comparing your child to their siblings or peers can be incredibly harmful. It can breed resentment and foster a sense of inferiority. Each child is unique, with their own strengths and weaknesses, and should be treated as such.

This phrase sends a message to your child that they aren’t good enough the way they are. It can lead to decreased self-esteem and create unnecessary competition within the family.

Encourage your child to embrace their uniqueness and assist them in improving their weaknesses, avoiding comparisons to others. By emphasizing their personal journey, you empower them to strive for their best without the pressure of meeting external standards.

6. “I’ve already explained this to you”

Patience is a crucial virtue when helping children with their schoolwork. Repeating the phrase “I’ve already explained this to you” may express frustration and can make your child feel incapable or slow.

Children learn at their own pace, and sometimes, they need a concept explained to them multiple times before they fully understand it. Instead of expressing frustration, try re-explaining the concept differently, using simpler language or practical examples.

Maintaining a positive and encouraging learning environment is essential to ensure your child feels comfortable asking questions. When they sense they are burdensome or causing frustration, it could deter them from seeking clarification in the future.

7. “Just do it the way I’m telling you”

This phrase can stifle your child’s creativity and problem-solving skills. It sends a message that there’s only one “right” way to do things – your way. While it might be tempting to get your child to follow your methods, especially if they’re efficient or time-tested, it’s important to allow them the space to explore and find their own solutions.

Problem-solving is a crucial skill that children need to develop. They should be encouraged to think critically and explore different methods or techniques. This not only helps them understand the subject matter better but also fosters independence and creativity.

If your child wants to try a different method, let them. Even if it’s not the most efficient or conventional way, it’s a learning opportunity for them.

8. “I’ve done my part, the rest is up to you”

While it’s essential to encourage independence in your child, this phrase can make them feel alone in their academic journey. It may instill a sense of pressure and high expectations that they have to meet all by themselves.

As a parent, your role extends beyond just providing the resources for learning. Emotional support, guidance, and encouragement play a significant role in your child’s academic success.

A more supportive phrase could be: “I’m here to guide you. If you’re stuck or need help, don’t hesitate to ask.”

This reassures your child that they have your support and assistance when they need it, reducing stress and promoting a more positive attitude towards their studies.

Implementing positive communication

Having identified phrases to avoid, the next crucial step is to consciously implement the suggested alternatives into your daily conversations with your child.

It’s not just about words but the tone and body language as well. Be patient and understanding. Show empathy towards your child’s struggles and celebrate their victories, however small they may be.

Encourage open communication, where your child feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns. This fosters a stronger parent-child relationship and makes the learning process more enjoyable for your child.

Don’t expect changes to happen overnight. It’s a gradual process. You might find yourself slipping back into old patterns, but don’t get discouraged. Keep trying and over time, you’ll see a positive change not only in your child’s attitude towards schoolwork but also in your relationship with them.

Always remember, your support and understanding play a vital role in your child’s academic success and emotional wellbeing.

Yen Tran

Yen Tran

Yen is a freelance writer and a researcher specializing in mental health, self-awareness, and psychology. Her hobby is studying human behavior throughout their reaction upon situations. Be sure to check out her other posts on our blog.

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