Too much help for children to do their homework is detrimental to their development. A study of the habits of parents and children at the Universities of Eastern Finland and Jyväskylä showed that autonomy increases tenacity. The research has taken into account children who attend primary school from the second to fourth year. The result showed that mothers who gave their children the opportunity to make it through on their own had children who were more tenacious and able to achieve good results. We talk about this topic with Dr. Marco Nuara, pediatrician at San Pio X Humanitas. “In a competitive society, school is competitive as well. That’s when it becomes difficult for the parent to let his child go wrong, to accept that he isn’t the first in the class or that he doesn’t even try.
A lesson of tenacity
One possible explanation is that when the mother gives the child the opportunity to do the homework, she also sends a message that she believes in her child’s abilities. On the contrary, concrete assistance with homework (especially if it is not requested by the child) can send the opposite message, which is that the mother does not believe in the child’s ability to do homework. Whether it’s third grade or middle school, going out of your way to help the young who are studying is not the right choice. On the contrary, making them independent, even at the cost of some mistake, makes them more tenacious.
The parent snow plough
The model that many parents represent is that of the “snow plough” mother or father. Instead of standing by their child’s side, the adults put themselves in front of the child to deal with any problems and, driven by the anxiety of supporting their children’s growth, almost took their place. Schools, on the other hand, should be seen as training for children, where the priority is not always to achieve the goal.
The value of autonomy and learning from mistakes
Rather than getting used to managing tasks themselves and gaining new space, children begin to expect their parents to provide them with their skills, including developing performance anxiety. Errors and imperfections, on the other hand, typical of the age of development, must be tolerated and accepted in order to teach children to do this themselves. We learn from mistakes: they are a stimulus to grow.
The pediatrician urges you to repeat this to your child: “Don’t worry if you make mistakes, you’ll learn from them! Even dad and mum made many mistakes and then they learned not to do them anymore.
Help: only on request and with limits
Parents must step aside a little. Except when your child is asking for help. Only then is there a good reason to become a part of your child’s school life, and if he or she really needs help, he or she should learn to ask for help. But how can we be sure that young people don’t finish their homework quickly instead of doing it well and carefully? Adults can implement strategies to regulate the time they spend studying so that they are not distracted. In this way the parents are coaches who stay on the edge of the track. It is forbidden, in the end, to correct their tasks: we must strive to leave them as the children did, even if there are mistakes. In this way, the children learn to take responsibility for what they do by facing school alone.
“Obviously, an approach that rewards autonomy and tolerates mistakes must also be shared by teachers, otherwise the child may be confused or frustrated – says Nuara. I personally share the results of the study, but my experience as a pediatrician and as a parent of two children in primary school is unfortunately different. The introduction of the Invalsi exams was then accepted as a further examination for students and teachers with a consequent higher performance stress for both. This translates into increasing child insecurity and an increase in the number of anxious events such as psychosomatic disorders, stuttering and ticking in recent years.