As the school year progresses, you may notice your child's assignments getting larger or more complex. Exams and projects can add to your student's workload and make life more stressful in ways that affect the whole family. All children experience challenges with certain assignments, but if you notice a pattern of frustration or stress related to homework on a regular basis, it might be time to check in with your child.

CARES encourages parents to communicate often with kids when it comes to stressful or challenging aspects of everyday life. Check in. Ask questions. If you notice your child getting frustrated or emotional during homework time or if they are avoiding homework altogether, a conversation about their workload and assignments might be beneficial.

A few questions that might be helpful to ask include:

  • Are you feeling pressure to get "perfect" grades? Is it coming from me or from yourself?
  • What do you think good grades will get you?
  • What do you worry will happen if your grades aren't "good enough"? And what does "good enough" mean to you?

If your child feels the pressure is coming from you:

  • Check in with yourself. School is very similar to a job for your child and they have to practice a healthy school/life balance. If your work/life balance is off, your child may be holding up a mirror. However hard it is to model a healthy work/life balance; your child sees everything. They may be following your lead in prioritizing their time.
  • Ask yourself, are you actually okay with your child not getting straight A's? If not, ask yourself why not?
  • Are your expectations causing stress for your child? If your child isn't a straight A student, don't worry. It does not mean they won't get a great job or have success.
  • What concerns do you have that may be translating as disapproval to your child? Try to communicate your hopes for them without imposing your fears.

If your child feels the pressure is coming from themselves:

  • Different kids struggle in different ways some common challenges might be the type of assignments, the amount of work, the time it takes to complete assignments, organizing and prioritizing their work, etc. Sometimes, getting clarity around the type of difficulty can help find a solution to it. For example, if your child is struggling with time management and spending too much time on a single subject, a goal of completing all assignments in all subjects before going back to check work might help.
  • If a certain subject is giving your student trouble, it might be helpful to look at other options to fulfill the requirement. Students may be resistant to dropping or switching a class out of fear it will ruin their transcript. Remind them colleges are smarter than that. One change will not ruin your chances at getting into a good school.
  • It's important to emphasize their time at school is about much more than grades. While getting good grades is important, students also need to develop a relationship with learning and with themselves that will serve them in the long run.

If you can identify that you or your child's life feels out of balance, as a family you may want to explore making some changes like checking in more often, creating new routines, simplifying commitments, or setting aside family self-care time where everyone can do something they enjoy. Coming from a place of care will help your child affect changes that will make them happier.