3 Tips to Improve Your Son’s Confidence in School
by Dr. Edmond J. Dixon
As parents, we all want our sons to be confident, capable learners at home, in school – and in life. We are always looking for ways to help them reach the potential we see within them. As a mom, you have tremendous power to do this, but your efforts will be successful only if you focus not just on what he learns, but how he learns.
Without that understanding, you may do exactly the wrong thing when trying to help him. Have you ever had the experience of trying to help your son with his homework and one or both(!) of you ends up frustrated, angry and in tears? What goes wrong in a situation like that? It drains your own confidence and may cause you to think you really cannot help him.
But you can!
In my many years of helping parents and teachers, I’ve developed a three-step process that helps boys learn with confidence:
1. Understand How He Learns: Many parents do not realize that boys’ learning needs are often different than girls when it comes to motivation and confidence in school. I have discovered that there are guaranteed pathways to success in school for boys. These pathways are:
Now quickly think about your son. Which of these would be most important to him? There are probably more than one. Do you know how you could use them to give him greater success and confidence in learning?
2. Use that understanding to build on his strengths: Once you understand his learning style, you can use that to do the right things to help him be more successful at school. For example, game is a powerful motivator for boys because they release testosterone when they “win.” That’s why they love video games so much! Use it to build confidence at home by letting him “win” with his learning!
Let’s look at a simple example that any parent can use at homework time with a boy who has trouble getting down to work. You see his behavior as lazy and unfocused, but I have found that in many cases, he is avoiding work because deep down he is afraid of failing. It may be safer for him to avoid it or not to try. His game orientation can be turned into a strength here with a strategy called “Beat the Clock.” Simply take out a timer or cell phone and ask him how much he thinks he can get done in 5 minutes. He may say, “2 math questions.” Then tell him you’re there to help if he needs it, but his goal is to get it done before the timer goes of. Then start the timer! You’ll be amazed by the effort he puts in during those 5 minutes — often getting the work done easily before the time is up.
Celebrate his success and ask him if he could do better. Often, because of the testosterone-induced euphoria he’s experiencing, he will set himself an even greater challenge. That is an indication of confidence. And he will often take that confidence into school the next day…
3. Help him move towards independent learning – When you have a good understanding of his learning style and have started to build on his strengths so that he’s experiencing success, then you are ready to help him use those strengths independent of you. This will be crucial to his confidence and success in the long term. If you have a young boy at home now, you may think this is a long way off — high school or college. But in reality, if you don’t start to help him now, he will struggle when he gets to those higher levels of education. Believe it or not, 4 to 10 years of age is the decisive time to breed this confidence in his ability to learn independently.
So how can you get started on this process of helping him become the confident and successful learner in school? It all starts with your understanding. Find a free quiz to help you identify your son’s learning style at www.helpingboyslearn.com/it-mom
When you use the knowledge you gain from it to begin building on his strengths and fostering his independence in learning, you will see his confidence soar!
Dr. Edmond J. Dixon
Dr. Dixon has 30-plus years of experience as a teacher, administrator, researcher, author–and parent of boys! His strategies for better learning have been used with more than 50,000 children in North America. The author of Helping Boys Learn: 6 Secrets for Success in School he provides step-by-step programs for parents and teachers to help them motivate boys to be confident, successful learners at home and at school. A dynamic and popular presenter and workshop leader, he has spoken throughout North America on education. For more info, visit www.helpingboyslearn.com