How Social Emotional Issues Affect Academic Achievement

Achievement, or being able or motivated to achieve, is in most instances related to the child or teenager’s state of mind. Feeling certain, confident, secure, and safe to express oneself is critical to being able to focus on school-related tasks. Unfortunately, but realistically, having your child be in an emotional place where he or she is positive is no easy task in today’s lightning paced nonstop world. Children today are living in the fast lane. There is always one more class or activity to take, one more video game to learn, or one more cell phone to answer. If you live in the fast lane, what you are doing oftentimes feels like “not enough.” This never-enough state of mind undermines self-esteem and motivation to achieve.

For our children and teenagers, testing pressures, social pressures, athletic competition, consumerism, and materialism are rampant. These external pressures create serious roadblocks to self development. Internet exposure is truly a frightening stimulus that exposes children and teenagers to too much adult information without a context. Internet use that is not monitored is shocking and confusing to still developing minds. Older family members—grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins—who used to give advice and transmit values live too far away to provide optimal support. Or relatives are too busy themselves to be of help in giving direction to youngsters establishing their identities.

Without a doubt, centering, focus, and balance are hard for kids and teenagers to find inside of themselves. Confidence and self-esteem can easily fly out the window when your son or daughter is too intense about schoolwork, homework, and peer pressures. Life that is populated with overstimulating interactions, expectations, and adult information will create or stimulate emotional intensity that is counterproductive to academic success. Creating a predictable stability in your family life is critical to your son or daughter’s sense of self and ability to focus on school and learning. Teaching your child values that reflect what is “enough” and putting into perspective the “anything goes” pop culture is imperative. Being calm and attentive and dealing directly with your child’s state of mind is essential, but not an easy task.

Family time is crucial. Activities that you do with your child such as travel, sports, hiking, community events, concerts, home and art projects enrich your youngster’s life and connection with you. The more healthy the attachment between parent and child, the more easily the teenage years will be for the family. Start early helping your child stay on track when he or she is learning the basics. Use your positive attachment to figure out a way to motivate your child to enjoy basic schoolwork. While your child’s school may have problems doling out knowledge, blaming the school is not enough. Parents have to work hard to keep their child on track. Academic achievement becomes more stressful and impossible for teenagers who, if they are depressed or lost, want to rebel against any type of standards that are established by parents and schools.

What you can do:
1.  Know your child’s strengths and limitations and work on both aspects of their identity.
2.  Informally monitor what is going on with homework, schoolwork, and friends.
3.  Calmly help your child succeed.
4.  Develop strong cooperative interaction and collaboration with your child’s teachers and the school community.
5.  Set up clear and reasonable consequences for unacceptable behavior.
6.  Develop wholesome activities to do with your child that promote parent-child bonding.
7.  Be available to discuss your child or teenager’s concerns openly.
8.  Limit screen time while making family time meaningful to your son or daughter.