I AM a working mother-of-four. I am stressed out by my 8-year-old third child who likes to do things his way. I get lots of complaints from his teachers and tutors. They say he is uncooperative, procrastinates in completing his homework, seeks attention, daydreams and has untidy handwriting. They even blamed him for being a bad influence on the other students.
All his teachers think he is smart but what they cannot tolerate is his behaviour. I found a very strict tuition teacher for my son three months ago. Of late, I noticed an improvement in my son’s handwriting and attitude towards his studies.
Now he completes his homework without being nagged. But my son’s tutor is thinking of quitting because he says my boy is only responsive to his shouting and needs constant reminding.
What should I do? – Concerned mother
It is exasperating when your eight-year-old is constantly drawing negative feedback from his teachers and tutors. Your son needs some positive feedback after having so many negative remarks made against him.
Many children in primary school have problems focusing on their studies and finishing their homework. What they really need is careful planning and support in coping with the difficulties they face in school.
The teachers’ complaints have a negative effect on your son’s behaviour. The more they focus on his weaknesses, the more frustrated he feels. It appears that there is no way for your son to show his better side.
It is common for adults to use punishment and threats to force children to cooperate and conform. But this does not work well for many children. Sometimes children may respond accordingly for the short-term. But in the long run, they develop poor self-esteem and become resistant. They will refuse to do what is expected of them. They find no pleasure in working at the tasks assigned to them.
Without nurturing and support, children can only feel they are a letdown and can do no better. Your son has been receiving remarks such as “Pay attention to your work,” “Listen up!” and “You are lazy.” This approach looks at what children are doing badly in and seeks to reprimand them.
He has received very little of nurturing statements such as “You are showing improvement in your handwriting.” “You are a generous and kind person.” He needs to hear what he is doing right. Parents who are looking for a quick-fix in getting their children to focus on their schoolwork or behave in class will be easily disappointed.
Be sensitive to your child’s feelings. It is crucial that your son knows what he is doing wrong and takes responsibility for it, but you need to be mindful of the timing. Let your child tell you how he feels and what he thinks about his problems.
When you allow him to talk about a problem while you listen and express what you understand, it opens up an opportunity for him to reveal what he is having difficulty with, and finding possible solutions.
When children solve their own problems, they feel they have some control over their difficulty. Parents must be prepared to wait it out until their children are able to come up with a course of action. For some, this may take some time. Children may need some time getting used to being trusted to find their own solutions. If you really feel like offering your suggestions, put it in a way that does not pressure your child to accept them.
To help your son feel he can be trusted to do good, you must first acknowledge him positively. If the present tutor has no faith in your child’s capabilities, it is better that he does not continue.
Your son needs people who believe in him. Help your child set up his own agenda and to know where he is heading. Let him plan out what he can do on his own and what he needs help in. You can help him succeed by being available to him when he needs you.