I am writing to you as I have discovered something that I want to share with your readers because you are always talking about the importance of understanding our kids and working on building better relationships as the foundation of eventually changing behaviors in ourselves and our children. I have a school experience around doing homework that I bet many of your readers can relate to. I want to share what eventually happened when I accepted that my 10 year old child was being triggered in some way and that she needed me to help her to express what was really going on instead of staying focused on her doing it my way.
Adoptive mom in Oxnard
I can honestly say that when it was time for my 10 year old daughter to do homework, I would have rather been at the dentist having a root canal. Ginny was defiant, resistant, and I felt helpless when trying to assist her. Our routine was that when Ginny became resistant, my body would tense and ultimately I would begin yelling which was NOT how I wanted to be and certainly not what I learned in regard to being a therapeutic parent to my child.
I decided that we needed to spend some time and take a walk together before doing homework. I let Ginny know that I missed her during the day and that I wanted to just be with her and share her day before beginning to do homework. This new activity seemed to help as we both decompressed from the day and discussed where we were emotionally. Although this helped somewhat with our initial struggles over homework, eventually Ginny still had outbursts and I still would end up reacting angrily to her; finally, one afternoon after our daily regimen of defiance, anger, and frustration, I am sitting with my daughter and out of the blue, she says, “I hate doing my homework because if I don’t turn it in every day, I will miss fun day on Friday and have to go to detention instead.” Ginny then proceeded to sob in my arms. I called her teacher the next day and explained to her teacher that Ginny’s fear of going to detention was impeding on her ability to complete her homework. The teacher agreed to take away the consequence of detention and would allow Ginny time to complete the homework over the weekend. Both the teacher and I agreed that the stress of rigidly being expected to turn in homework daily was putting too much pressure on my daughter and together we came up with a different plan to meet the needs of Ginny.
From that moment on, even as I write this a year later, Ginny completes her homework without a battle. Once I was able to get to the depth of the stress and anxiety that was being triggered for Ginny and find a solution that helped her to feel less anxious and calm inside, she no longer experienced homework as a threatening black cloud looming over her.