Why So Many Children Struggle at School and Home

There have been hundred or thousands of research studies conducted over the past 20 to 30 years in the fields of neuroscience, neuropsychology and education that help us better understand the brain, learning and child development.  But, despite all of this knowledge, we have more children struggling in school than ever before.  How do we make sense of this?

One factor is that with teachers under such heavy pressure to cover so much academic ground, there is little time to consider their relationships with the children in their classroom. The quality of this relationship between child and teacher influences the child’s emotional experience and can make the difference between a child who is open to learning and one who is shut down and unwilling to take risks.

Another factor is the tremendous stress on adults and children given the uncertainty of our times.  The world economy is changing daily and completing a college degree does not assure one of a solid career as it once did.  Parents have to work long hours to keep pace with the needs of their families, placing significant strain on the quality of relationships within that family.  Stress is one of the greatest threats to the health of any relationship.

Some things you as a parent can do to manage stress, change the climate in your own home and help your children:

1. Manage difficult emotions: Your ability to identify and reflect on your feelings without acting on them in the moment is critical to healthy relationships.  When you react impulsively to your negative emotions, you increase the likelihood of saying something to your child that you might later regret.  You are also more likely to be punitive, which also ruptures your connection to your child.  I am not suggesting that you not hold your child accountable for certain responsibilities; however, I am suggesting that this be done in a thoughtful way.

Look for more parenting tips for managing stress tomorrow.  Peter Murphy, Ph.D.

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