Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD
“My parents are my backbone. Still are. They are the only group that will support you if you score 0 or you score 40”. – Kobe Bryant
“A good father is a source of inspiration and self-restraint. A good mother is the root of kindness and humbleness. ” – Dr. T. P. Chia.
“A parent’s love is whole no matter how many times divided.” – Robert Brault
As teachers and parents, we need to be very attentive to how our children and students are behaving both in class and at home. Sometimes when something is happening our children are not very willing to speak to us and share their concerns. In fact, most children and especially teenagers are not forthcoming at all about their struggles. Many of them simply feel embarrassed to talk about their school or personal problems.
But sometimes it is easy to see that something is happening. Maybe you see that your child is not enthusiastic about school as he or she used to be. Or maybe your child is complaining that they feel sad on Sunday. And you may start wondering whether it is a sign that they are struggling at school or is it something else.
In this short article, we are going to conduct an overview of the most common types of behaviour that may signal that something is upsetting your child. Or maybe that they are struggling with something.
Your Child Refuses to Talk About School
Usually, when children come home, they are very willing to talk about the highlights of their day. However, when your child just refuses to speak about school or the expression on their face suddenly changes when you try to talk to them about their classes, then something indeed may not be right at school.
It is important that you don’t force your child to talk about things that they are not yet ready to share with you. But it is also important not to leave your child facing their problems alone. Instead of sitting them down and interrogating them about what could have happened to them, try to become involved in their everyday school activity in a non-obtrusive way. Thus, you will be able to identify your child’s school problems without forcing them to ask questions.
For example, you could to your child’s school or have a casual chat with their teacher. During your visit to school, you will be able to see what your child is studying. It is also a good idea to get to know your child’s teacher – the strong the relationship between you and your child’s teacher, the more likely it is that you will be able to resolve any potential problems and nip the new ones in the bud. If there is indeed something happening in your child’s life that is affecting them negatively, the teacher must have also seen something.
Your Child’s Attitude Toward School Has Become More Negative
If your child used to be very ecstatic talking about school and positive overall, but recently become more negative talking about school, then clearly there is something wrong with them. That is a clear change in their attitude towards school, which should not be overlooked.
Another change in their attitude may be as follows – your child used to be very excited about school, but now says that he or she is bored. This is a serious sign especially if your child is constantly complaining about boredom. When children say that they are bored, there may be something deeper going on in their lives and the word “boredom” is just something that helps them articulate their feelings of being lost.
Your Child Spends a Lot of Time on Homework
If you see that your child is overwhelmed by the amount of work they must do or spends too much time on it, then again it may be a sign that something is wrong. Of course, it is important to remember that homework requirements vary from teacher to teacher. That is why it is always a good idea to be familiar with what your child’s teacher is like and what amount of homework they usually give out. Being familiar with your child’s teacher’s homework policies may help your child in the future.
Your Child Misbehaves at School
Sometimes when our children are misbehaving in school it is a sign that they are trying to communicate something to us. Perhaps, communicate that they are struggling with their school life. Indeed, it is true that many children simply lack the skills to effectively communicate and explain what kinds of problems they are dealing with. So instead of expecting them to be able to be articulate about their feelings, we should look out for the signs that can tell us much more about what is happening in their lives.
So what signs are we talking about? Well, you need to be careful if you have a child who used to be well-behaved and suddenly started getting into fights, using substances, missing school altogether and getting suspended because of their poor academic performance.
Your Child Receives Poor Feedback at School and From Teachers
We all tend to believe that our children have exceptional talents and do well with everything. And because of that, we may be sceptical about any negative feedback which comes from teachers and even dismisses it altogether. But instead of idealizing your child, try to pay attention to what they say. When teachers are communicating to you that your child has problems at school, they are basically giving you an opportunity to nip the problem in the bud. And after all that is what you want – you don’t want the problem to snowball into a major one.
If you have noticed any signs like that, do not leave your child alone with their problems. At the same time, try not to be very intrusive. If you are intrusive your child will simply not share anything with you and intervention will have more disadvantages than advantages. So, it is always good to be cautious.
Try to listen to your child. Even though sometimes it is difficult to listen, try to learn to be a good listener. Make your child feel safe. Make them feel that they can rely on you. It is difficult to establish that kind of relationship with a teenager but if you manage to do that, you will be able to prevent many other potential problems in the future. Having learnt that you are not going to judge them, your child will reach out to you next time if they have a problem.
If you think that you are not able to help your child or not sure what to do (which is completely fine and acceptable, you don’t have to know everything) you can go to a professional for help. Sometimes there are things that we simply cannot resolve without professional help. Some of them are psychological disorders and ailments that only a professional can help you with. So, if you suspect that your child may be suffering from some sort of ailment or disorder – it is better to turn to a professional.
Regardless of the nature of the problem your child is facing, let them know that you are going to love them unconditionally no matter what. This will give them a feeling of insecurity and inclines them to open to you.
Also, remember that your child’s teacher is one of the best people to turn for help to. They are spending days with your child, and they certainly have their own thoughts and observations. They can certainly give you an important and valuable insight into what may be happening to your child. So, make sure you are doing everything to nurture this productive relationship between you and the teacher. If your teacher is reaching out to you, do not try to find excuses to avoid meeting them. Often there is something important that they probably want to communicate to you and this information can be helpful for preventing future problems from arising. So, make sure you are doing all the necessary work to make the relationship between you and your child’s teacher even stronger.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.