Teaching your own child can be an emotional rollercoaster, filled with a mix of pride, love, and frustration. When our children struggle to comprehend certain concepts or learn new skills, it’s essential for us as parents to maintain patience and composure. Keeping frustration in check isn’t always easy; however, with the right approach, you can support your child’s learning and foster their academic success. Here are seven key tips to help you navigate tutoring your own child while effectively managing frustration.
Why does frustration build up when a parent tutors his or her own child?
Parents teaching their own children is often a challenging and, at times, frustrating experience. I have encountered numerous highly educated and mathematically skilled parents who sought our tutoring services for their children. They have the knowledge to help their own child. However, as they attempt to teach their child, the frustration builds on both sides, leading to arguments instead of productive learning sessions. The difficulty in tutoring one’s own child stems from multiple factors.
- The parent’s heightened expectations for their child’s understanding and academic performance. This sense of expectation can lead to disappointment when a child struggles to grasp a concept or topic.
- The higher the parent’s educational level, the more likely they are to expect their child to easily comprehend new ideas and materials. These ambitious expectations can put immense pressure on both parent and child during a tutoring session. Have you ever said to your child, “How do you not get this?”
- Children, especially teenagers, may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable being taught by their own parents. This unease can exacerbate any existing tension and create a less-than-ideal environment for learning.
- The lack of clear boundaries between the roles of parent and teacher can contribute to the challenges faced in these situations. Because the parent and the child are a family, both of them are more inclined to voice their frustration aloud, leading to yelling matches. In contrast, a dedicated teacher or tutor may have clearer boundaries with the student, leading to increased respect and cooperation during a lesson.
What you can do to avoid being frustrated when you help your child
1. Set realistic expectations
It’s essential to have realistic expectations when tutoring your child. According to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), it’s important to recognize each child’s individual strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning. Avoid expecting rapid progress or that all lessons will be readily absorbed. Instead, adjust your expectations according to your child’s distinct abilities and stage of development. This understanding will make it easier for you to remain patient and provide more targeted support.
2. Establish a defined routine
A sense of predictability can reduce anxiety and frustration for both parents and children. Establish a clear routine for study time by specifying the start and end times along with the subject matter discussed on each day. Allow for some flexibility, but avoid drastic shifts in the schedule. Consistent, structured homework sessions can alleviate the pressure that may arise when the learning process isn’t progressing smoothly.
3. Know that your child needs positive guidance to thrive
As I wrote in the article about why some children become fearful of challenges, scolding or too many criticism may lead to your child not wanting to the very activity you want your child to become good at. Focus on growth mindset when you are helping your child. Discover what your child is doing right instead of what your child is doing wrong. Know that your child is still learning, and learning is a process that doesn’t happen instantly.
4. Create a conducive learning environment
Crafting a space specifically for tutoring can help both you and your child focus on the task at hand. Creating a productive learning atmosphere requires a quiet, dedicated space with minimal distractions. Consider setting up a designated study area equipped with essential supplies such as books, writing materials, and electronic devices for research. This physical separation between your child’s learning and leisure time environments can make it easier for you to manage frustration during tutoring sessions.
5. Encourage open communication
Open discussion may alleviate the feeling of anger and frustration. Encourage your child to share their thoughts and feelings about their academic progress regularly. This two-way communication provides an opportunity for you to address any doubts or concerns they might have while also allowing you to express your expectations clearly.
6. Tap into your child’s interests
Your child may be more engaged and less frustrated if you can tap into your child’s interests and talents. Integrating topics that your child enjoys could inspire greater engagement in schoolwork and reduce frustration levels for both of you. For example, if your child loves Transformers, make up a word question that features Transformers.
7. Break tasks into smaller steps
Bite-sized learning is an approach where complex concepts are broken down into smaller, more manageable steps. Instead of overwhelming your child with vast amounts of information, focus on simplifying concepts and providing them with tools to understand independently. What is one concept that you want your child to learn today? Focus on that concept and compliment your child when he or she masters it. This method eases the learning process for your child and may also alleviate frustration for both parent and child.
8. Practice self-compassion, ask for help if needed
Tutoring your child can be a challenging endeavor; hence it’s crucial to practice self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding when you encounter feelings of frustration during teaching sessions. Recognize that this is a common experience shared by many parents. If you feel like frustration is building up, don’t be afraid to ask your child’s teacher for guidance or ask your significant other or relatives for help.
While tutoring your own child can be fraught with frustration, utilizing these seven tips can help you maintain patience and composure on this educational journey. Be open to new teaching methods and embrace the opportunity to grow together as a family. Remember, your dedication to your child’s academic success speaks volumes about your care and love for them.
Richard Zhang, M.Ed., is an educator and a software developer with a Masters degree in education from University of Toronto and an immense passion for education and learning. Until the pandemic, Richard owned an award-winning learning centre in Toronto. For 15 years, he has taught and mentored hundreds of elementary, middle school, and high school students succeed in academics. He is also an app developer specializing in web and mobile application in educational and business sectors.