Helping your child succeed in school

Some simple rules allow parents to find their place to accompany the student without invading it.

Freud himself had warned: the profession of “educating” his children? “Impossible”. Since the beginning of the century, the situation has hardly improved for parents. There is even talk of “parental burn-out” about those who, wishing to do well, are literally exhausted – and in the evening, after completing their own day of work, multiply their efforts so that their child Succeed well in class.

Why so much interventionism? Threats of unemployment or decommissioning for future generations; Increased competitiveness from kindergarten; The perpetual questioning, for decades, of the school institution which is struggling to reform itself; The proletarianization of the teaching profession … One would have to be deaf and blind – or dangerously indifferent – not to feel the pressure inviting us to be more and more present with these students who are our children. But have not been trained for this, what can we – at our level – really do to help? To achieve this, parents now have to take on several roles.

• In “coaches”: create the context favorable to the study

Psychologists, now often asked by disoriented parents (almost 80% of the requests for consultation are linked to a problem in the school), all seem to agree on a first point: to the adults of the family he returns first To create the context conducive to learning and the balance of the child. “These are often filled lifestyle of common sense rules that we are led to remember, keep the child psychologist Alain Braconnier, who has just published The Child optimistic . Family and school (Ed. Odile Jacob). Before, we had to treat children with mental disorders, now we have to take care of those who are doing well, but we are afraid they can go wrong or multiply the failures. ”

In this quest for the “balanced” child, parents are to be regarded as “coaches”. Through their lifestyle, they can in fact set up certain habits whose benefits are known: a varied diet, a sporting activity, an artistic practice … The extracurricular fields allowing the child to develop potentials serving him indirectly in class. But now, new issues must also be taken into account.

Problems falling asleep and night wakings are found in 10% of 6-12 and15 to 20% of teens, and parents have to convey a real education for sleep, basic tips every day, “the bed will remain a Space of calm and repose where one must neither eat nor study, continues the practitioner; We will learn to locate the physiological signs of entering a new sleep cycle; To create a space for relaxation before nightfall. “It is now necessary to reduce the sleep debt suffered by many students in the classroom and which, of course, affects their ability to concentrate and memorize.


Directly implicated in the sleep deprivation, the use of screens and new technologies . We now know that there is no question of demonizing it, of preventing it, but that it is important to regulate it. Parents know how to recognize the great utility of the internet: when the child seeks, surfing from site to site, information for a homework or sharing revisions with other students … But to them also to give a framework to this use Which, otherwise, proves devouring: no screen lit one hour before going to bed; No SMS during the family meal … Each has to set the limits that suit the personality, the age of his child … and each member of the family. Another argument favorable to “technological” moderation: children need time for daydreaming, boredom, emptiness … to learn better then. “Even when he is not working, the brain is active,” recalls Prof. Francis Eustache, chairman of the scientific council of the Observatoire B2V des mémoires. But it needs to be at rest – what is called the “default mode”. The moments when our children can wander their thoughts, “memories” without being hyperstimulated are very important because they allow them to step back and integrate in a different way all sorts of information. “In the same spirit , Many researchers and psychologists now recommend to introduce young people to relaxation or meditation.

• In preceptors: strengthening the child’s desire to learn

Then there is the question of school learning itself. To what extent can parents, who do not have to play “teachers”, transform themselves into truly helping repeaters for their children? The support that can be given to young people must neither destroy their ability to be autonomous in their work nor diminish their desire to learn … A vast field that new methods (positive pedagogy, positive discipline, workshops ” Empathic education “…) aim at advancing at best, because working at home is too often the occasion of conflicts and tensions in families.

“Some adults then enter the balance of power with the child observes Béatrice Sabaté, a clinical psychologist and trainer in positive discipline . They want the young person to do what they want and become “controlling”. Others, on the contrary, do in his place or resign, abandoning him totally. Nothing works because neither of these attitudes helps to develop the feeling of being capable in the child. ”
The solutions? Give meaning to work and study, particularly separating them alone “results.” Charles Martin-Krumm and Ilona Boniwell, researchers in positive psychology, revealed in their book For motivated teens (Ed. Odile Jacob) many discoveries in positive psychology helping parents to adopt the right attitude to encourage motivation, curiosity and perseverance of young people.

In the foreground, drop the policy of the carrot (“if you have a good note, I buy you a new iPhone”). Research has shown that if an initially motivated student receives rewards to carry out the activity, it will gradually tend to dissociate these two indicators from the behavior and to consider the external reason as more pregnant than the internal reason. In other words, it will gradually perceive that it is no longer “at the origin” of its actions and that what causes or regulates its behavior is outside itself. Result: the child learns only to receive good points, not to satisfy his curiosity. This may then be depleted.

Another motivating factor is changing the child’s mistakes and failures. “In order to satisfy a student’s need for autonomy, he or she will be asked to find ways of correcting his or her failures,” explains Charles Martin-Krumm. And we will value the process of learning by trial / error. “By allowing the child to fail fails to feel bad about the failure and reinforces in him spirit of initiative and Progress.

• As parents accompany their child without invading …

Regarding homework, professionals like Béatrice Sabaté encourage – as well as for sleep, by the way – the establishment of a “ritual” working upstream with the child: how much time to devote to homework ? Before or after the snack? Based on reading / re-reading or writing cards? “Too many parents focus on outcomes and does not seem interested in the learning process and the steps it entails,” says the ambassador of ” pedagogy of encouragement .” The challenge is always to show his attention to what the child is experiencing, his own curiosity about where he is and how the knowledge he acquires will help him to live better in the world.

Attention … seems to be the key to the current parent-child relationship, and it is not only limited to school work. “Adults caught up in the guilt of not being available – because of their work, or a blended family life … – are struggling to maintain the guidelines, to set a clear framework for young people, observes Dr. Alain Braconnier . But they should never forget that the child needs an authority that protects it. “

Protecting the child means, among other things, anticipating: preventing drift before even having to punish. “It is at the very moment when we offer him the console in 3D that we specify the schedules to which he can play there on school days,” notes the child psychiatrist. It is also to identify ill-being before problems arise at school. Charles Martin-Krumm thus invites parents to hear some pessimistic generalizations of children as signals of low self-esteem (“anyway, I’m null!”). “The process can then be stopped by recalling that a note to a control is only an assessment made at a given time, or to refer to other, more positive, results obtained elsewhere,” the researcher writes. And, of course, we will not forget to celebrate success when they arrive … but without over-valuing them! “If you tell your child that you are proud of him only when he has good grades, you are questioning the simple pride you can draw from having a son (or a girl) like him ( Or she, “warns Charles MartinKrumm.

This form of attention is also not “overprotection” of certain parents baptized “helicopter parents” in the United States because they do not “let go” of their children from a sole and so … they do shade. Sometimes, the right attention is inspired by having recourse to a third party (boarding school, student for homework, shrink …) and to renounce being almighty to his child.

Finally, parents will remember that much of the education is done by impregnation and imitation. As far as transmission is concerned, they will therefore always have great advantages in bringing their attention to themselves and their own behavior.

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