EPIC Blog: How to Approach Academics - 4KIDS
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EPIC Blog: How to Approach Academics

April 17th, 2020 l Author: Mariana Caro, LCSW

We all want our kids to be successful. Academics are part of that, but they are not everything. Often times I sit with families who are struggling to choose between good grades and good relationship, because the stress of school and homework is causing such a strain in their home.

I’m here to say that while challenging our kids to do their best, to push forward, to be successful is so important for their well-being, it cannot come at the cost of relationship, especially in times of stress and uncertainty. When you find that the pressure to have them do well in school is causing distance between you and your children, I invite you to pause. Take a breath, put the homework away, and lean into relationship. Academic success cannot be the only measure of success. And truthfully, a child who is distressed and anxious is not able to learn new concepts anyway. So take a moment to connect, play a game, take a walk, go outside, do something creative. You’ll find that your children are more able to do the very thing you want them to do when they’ve found peace in their relationship and connection with you.

“Academics don’t protect your children from trauma; your relationship does” – Dr. Stephanie Grant

So especially when parenting children from hard places, the primary measure of success is relationship that brings about healing. Remember – we can’t expect typical behavior from atypical development (Dr. Purvis). Many of our kids from hard places can’t be expected to do the same as children who have not experienced trauma. It’s important to consider where your bar of expectations is, in every situation, but especially in the realm of academics. If that bar is consistently met with anxiety, shame, and defeat, then maybe it’s time to adjust the bar. It’s okay to lower it for a season for the sake of relationship. Lower the bar, let them experience success and safety with you. You’ll be surprised how often they’ll choose to raise the bar themselves once they realize that they are capable of succeeding. So when choosing between academics and relationship, choose relationship. Choose to lower the bar in order to raise them up. They may not remember the ins and outs of what they learned in school, but they’ll remember how they felt in their relationship with you.