Doing well in school is critical to a child’s self esteem and can have a big influence on how the child does later in life. Rather than thinking of themselves as smart, successful, and accomplished, they may identify themselves with the rebellious children and end up involved in drugs, alcohol, or premature sexual activity. Following is a list of some of the things that can help your child do their best:

  • Identify and encourage your child’s strengths, talents, and passions.
  • Create a positive, loving, and playful atmosphere in the home. Your child will reflect your mood and attitude. If you are struggling to be positive, loving, and playful yourself, get some professional help and support.
  • Catch your child doing good things and praise them for that. Parents often fall into a pattern where their only interactions with their child is telling them what they are doing wrong or what they are not doing.
  • If your child misbehaves or neglects their chores, try to figure out why before correcting them and remember to always correct from a place of love. That will cause them to want to please you rather than rebel against you.
  • Remember your teen is transitioning from a dependent child to an independent adult and therefore will find fault with you. Own and accept the feedback gracefully.
  • When you teen is upset, or extra critical of you, use your intuition and say something like, “You seem upset today. I wonder if you are upset about XYZ,” and offer some loving advice or another way to look at the situation. Teens find it hard to talk about their feelings and a parent speaking to the issue helps to break the ice.
  • Take the time to truly connect with your child daily. Reading a bedtime story and tucking them in bed is a magical time, a time when they will often talk about what’s bothering them. Variations of this special time should continue until they go off to college.
  • Parents, and teachers, are often confused because a child seems to attend fine to things they are interested in. Inattention and learning problems is therefore too often seen as bad or lazy behavior. If your child is not performing in school, make sure you get a good evaluation, which rules out learning disabilities and atypical forms of ADHD. Children are often misdiagnosed by a cursory exam in the general physician’s office, and put on medication that is not right for them. A good evaluation, which includes psychological testing and a Quantitative EEG, can usually always identify the true cause of poor performance.
  • Remember that Neurofeedback is more effective than medication because it treats the whole brain and, unlike medication, can treat learning disabilities.
  • Make sure your child is getting 5-6 varied servings of fruits and vegetables daily and that they are getting adequate sleep and daily exercise.
  • Make sure the family eats meals together. Children cannot be allowed to take their food to their room.
  • Make sure your child has chores to do and you should not be paying for that. They need to learn that they are part of a family and that the family members pitch in to support the family.
  • Find things you can do with your child one on one and things the family can do together and involve them in the planning when possible. All work and no play make all of us dull, and encourages children to escape into their devices.


John M Tatum, MD

Holistic Health & Counseling Center


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