Difficult Topics, Elementary School, Great for All Ages, High School, Middle School, Motivating the Unmotivated, School Advice, The Happy Student Podcast

#51: Turning Around a Tough Year (Updated!)

Sometimes the start of the school year just doesn’t go your way. You missed some things the teacher said; you weren’t organized; you misbehaved; whatever. There are lots of reasons the school year might have started out poorly. The good news is that it doesn’t have to stay that way. The New Year is a great opportunity to turn around a challenging school year! To ease us back into the year, Fireborn’s got a quick four tips to make the rest of the year brighter at school.

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Four tips to make the rest of the year brighter at school:

Find that motivation

The first step is to make sure they are motivated to turn the school year around.

There are three components of motivation:

  • Autonomy: We want to be in control.
  • Mastery: We want to be good and get better at something.
  • Purpose: We want to do things that matter.

To help your kids find that internal motivation, help them set goals that matter to them academically. Let them choose what their goal is (autonomy). Set up a plan for success so that they get some small wins quickly (mastery). Ask your child why they chose this goal and talk about its importance (purpose).

Finding that motivation can be really tough, especially when it may seem like everything at school is just going terribly – at least, that’s how your kid feels. Trying to find a goal may be tough because they may simply just be too beat down by the system right now. If you are worried this is happening to your kid, well – the first thing to do is to think if they are truly depressed or need some professional help.

Another thing to think about is getting them excited about something at school. There are lots of potential goals that can help motivate your kids. Maybe an academic goal shouldn’t be the first priority because if your kid is having trouble socially and doesn’t want to go to school in the first place, going from a C to a B in English probably won’t help that. Maybe it should be finding an extracurricular activity that excites your kid. Having something to look forward to at the end of the day can help them get through school more happily (and maybe help them focus in class).

Get your child’s friends and family (maybe even his teacher!) on board.

Change is hard. Having a strong support system will help. Therefore, encourage your children to talk to their friends about their new goal and maybe even their teacher. Saying the goal aloud increases accountability because friends will ask how it’s going, plus they are there to help if they fall off track.

Find a tutor.

No matter what is causing the difficult year, find someone who can dedicate their time to helping your kids succeed in that area.

Work on developing your child’s grit and growth mindset!

Adjusting their mindset to think this way will help them feel comfortable asking for help and trying harder. Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman wrote an excellent workbook for teens, The Grit Guide for Teens, to help them adjust their mindset, build their grit, and achieve their goals. Working through the activities in this book will also help develop that motivation (tip #1) to turn the year around!

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

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Difficult Topics, Easy Action Items, Elementary School, Parent Tips, Parent-Child Communication, School Advice, Social Life, The Happy Student Podcast

The Happy Student Podcast #91: Story Time: Using Stories to Decrease Fears

Getting kids to tell you stories about their day has numerous benefits! Better conversations, better relationships, and kids who feel comfortable coming to you when they need help. If you focus on positive questions, then you also get practice looking for the goods. And if you ask questions that are in line with your family motto, like “How were you kind today?” you show your kid that you value kindness and encourage them to act kind every day. Stories can also help kids develop better memory and it helps them make sense of their experiences, which can help reduce anxiety. But getting kids to open up to you about their day can be tough. Fireborn’s got some tips!

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Ways to get your child to open up about their day:

Change the question you are asking so that it naturally primes your kid to answer with more than one or two words. Instead of “How was your day?”, some options include:

  • What was the best part of your day?
  • What was the hardest or most challenging part of your day?
  • How were you kind today?
  • What did someone else do today that was nice?
  • In what way were you brave today?
  • What did you do today that was inclusive?
  • You can ask questions like what was the worst part of the day today or what was your least favorite class, I just prefer to focus on the positive stuff because our brains naturally focus on the negative stuff, so I like to give my brain more practice looking for those positives.
  • Try playing two truths and a lie, where your kid tells you two things that did happen that day and one thing that didn’t and you have to guess which one didn’t.
    • Gamifying the conversation like this may make your child more excited to participate.
  • You can get your kids to tell you more stories by telling them more stories yourself. This teaches your kid what kind of answer you are looking for when you ask how their day was.

Asking these types of questions encourages kids to specifically remember events that happened during the day and to tell you about those events.

Asking better questions leads to better conversations, better relationships, and kids who feel comfortable coming to you when they need help. If you focus on positive questions, then you also get practice looking for the goods. And if you ask questions that are in line with your family motto, like “How were you kind today?” you show your kid that you value kindness and encourage them to act kind every day.

You can get your kids to tell you more stories by telling them more stories yourself. This teaches your kid what kind of answer you are looking for when you ask how their day was.

What’s really great about asking these good questions or teaching kids how to respond with stories is that it gets kids to think about specific events that happened and to tell you about them, which helps your kid develop their memory muscles.

When we tell our story, it gives us time to reflect on what happened and make sense of it in a way that we may not have if we didn’t take the time to think about it again. So telling stories of our experiences helps us understand our past experiences, which then informs our present experiences as well. As your kids get older, the stories they tell and the meaning may get more complex.

Sometimes kids have bad experiences and don’t like to think about them, which makes talking about them very difficult. But the way we make sense of those experiences is through talking about them. Kids need to be able to tell their story about what happened so they can make sense of it and move on. You can help them tell that story too if they aren’t able to. The more your child can integrate and understand their scary experiences, the more experience they will have overcoming challenges in the future and the happier, less anxious they will be.

Resources:

Siegel, D. & T. Bryson. (2011). The Whole-Brain Child.New York: Random House.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!