The first thing any of us as parents, teachers and other adults working with children can do is to improve the quality of our relationship with them. This idea is more than a philosophical shift in approach to childrearing. It is a scientifically supported concept that needs to be put into practice on a daily basis to foster the social, emotional and academic development of our children.
The focus on a healthy, connected relationship takes priority over considering specific strategies for managing behavioral problems or addressing specific learning issues that show up in the classroom or at home. The quality of our connection to our children directly influences their openness to our direction and support. It is the difference between turning a child’s brain “on” or “off” to learning.
Learning involves emotions and cognition. The two cannot be separated. If a child is feeling anxious about completing a difficult academic task, it will interfere with his ability to think clearly, as well as to store and retrieve information for long-term memory. He will need help with effectively managing anxiety before much learning can take place.
Look for specific strategies to help your child manage anxiety in future posts.
Peter Murphy, Ph.D.