I recently had a mother ask me about how to help her son with homework. With deep concern in her voice she told me about how her 11 year old son showed her his homework. She went on to say that it was full of spelling errors and she asked him “did you even use a dictionary to look up any of these words?” She continued to describe how he just got mad and walked away.
My heart broke for both the mom and child. But I also could see how much this mom wanted to support her son. She is a good mom. For one thing, she was at a parenting class, that in itself tells me she really wants to be the best mom possible.
I told her for the rest of the school year; only comment of the good things in the homework. Had she read the paper just for the value of noticing the good stuff, it would have been a great academic moment.
There is a tool called Appreciative Inquiry that really put legs under this idea. Appreciative Inquiry is primarily an organizational development method, which focuses on increasing what an organization does well rather than on eliminating what it does badly. David Cooperrider is generally credited with coining the term “Appreciative Inquiry”.
Used within parenting, it is also a great tool. Simply give positive feedback to your child. Don’t even talk about the negatives. Just the positives and stand back and watch how the negatives go away.
I am excited to hear back from this mom. I hope to hear that not only did his academic performance improve but most importantly, the relationship between parent and child also improved. It is always better for a parent to focus on their relationship with their child then their child’s academics.