Schoolwork is a kid issue, but how does that look during lockdown?
We care about our kids and want to support them, but this is an opportunity to stand back lovingly. While you may not have the square footage to pull back too far, you can practice interior withdrawal. This is the art of minding your own business.
In the past, a lack of time with children has been a significant concern and for a good reason. Our kids need our focused time and attention. Children develop self-esteem from the loving gaze of their parents. The message that they matter and that they are accepted and appreciated mirrors their self-worth.
Too much closeness happens when we mistakenly believe that we have to take over our child’s responsibility. When we do that, we create resistance in them. They argue with us instead of face the task. So how do we find balance?
Announce your desire to support without nagging. Get curious about your children’s goals and what matters to them right now. Ask them, don’t tell them. If you have been taking over your child’s responsibilities, they might think that this is a trick. And actually, if you want your child to give the answer that you want to hear, it is a trick. This is where interior withdrawal comes in.
Let go of your agenda. Show a little faith. And if your child doesn’t meet his goals, instead of taking the task over and reprimanding, get curious again. What got in the way? How do you feel about this? What would be doable? What could work? What else? When kids can come up with their own plans, ideas and strategies, they are accountable to themselves. When we set up their agenda for them they are only doing as they are told.
If you think that your child will just want to goof off, there could be some truth to that. You might see this at first, especially if they are sure you will swoop in and take over. Keep some structure but give some space and be patient.
• Coach your child to come up with a plan by asking questions rather than telling.
• Suggest short term so they don’t get overwhelmed.
• Use short “what” questions to pull out ideas.
• Write down your child’s ideas and post them. This allows your child to face his or her own authority.
• If they don’t meet their plans, get curious and—instead of taking over—remain supportive.