When my daughters were in kindergarten, I used to study with them. First of all, they asked me to do so. Besides, I wanted to know what they took to make sure they pronounced correctly and understood the material – not just finished their homework.
I used to integrate what they take in school each week into our conversations and play. So, for instance, when I am in the kitchen cooking, I send
A Declarative I-message; declaring that I need “four red tomatoes” and “two green cucumbers”, and
A Positive I-message to show my appreciation of their behavior, “I am proud of you for helping me around.”
That served as a double tool to help them learn and revise what they took at school, while also encouraging them to help around with chores and act in a responsible way.
When travelling together, I would also talk with them about things like means of transportation, or about concepts such as floating versus sinking objects, all while enjoying the sea sight and sand castle building activities.
My point here is to share the experience of learning and be with them to get ideas across in a way that can last with them forever not just for exams.
It never crossed my mind that I would do my child’s homework, until one day …
when I was running late from work I asked my daughter’s friend to take her home with her and that I will come pick her up. To my disappointment, when we returned home I found out that the elder sister of her friend did the homework for her (same as she does with her sister!).
Of course, I had a problem as there was a value that I wanted to teach my child – “Responsibility”.
I calmly asked what happened and why, and started to Active Listen; feeding back my understanding of what she is saying (verbal & non-verbal) with empathy. She told me that it was the older sister who took the books and did the homework while she and her friend played. She had a need to play and I have a need to teach her responsibility for her duties (in that case the homework), which put us in a situation of Conflict.
As this was both a Conflict of Needs and Values, I decided to confront and listen then if needed to use Method 3 (some of the strategies we teach parents in PET). So I acknowledged her need to play with her friend and thus not doing the homework herself. Then I shared how her behavior (leaving the other person do the homework for her) made me feel (upset) because this would impact her negatively (she will not practice improving her handwriting and know the material properly). Also, I explained that by not doing the homework, there is a great chance that she will not remember the material she took and that I will need to sit with her later explain it rather than spend time together.
She suggested I would erase it and she would do it on her own!
She came up with her own responsible decision which satisfied both our needs. Isn’t that awesome 😉
Studying for our kids and making their homework does not help them, instead it will lower their skill level and create a sense of dependency and irresponsibility. Studying for them is not a sign a care; instead we can study with them (if they ask for it) and offer our support and encouragement. What we really need to do is to work on building our relationship with them in an effective way so that they become responsible and capable of taking decisions.
If you like the results of this story, then we would love to coach you learn the skills to handle such situations. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.