MADISON, Wis. – As the school year arrives, parents should know that for some kids, even the most basic homework assignments can be a crippling source of stress and anxiety.
That’s what Dr. Marcia Slattery, a child psychiatrist at the University of Wisconsin, has found. Each year, she and her colleagues treat and counsel hundreds of children who are anxious about school-related issues, including homework.
Homework stress can affect any child, but it’s especially difficult for children who suffer from an anxiety disorder, the most common psychiatric problem that afflicts children, says Slattery. And homework issues can indicate problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or an undiagnosed learning disorder.
Slattery suggests parents follow a few guidelines:
- Begin with consistency–find a specific time each day to sit down and study.
- Designate a specific place for study—comfortable, but not too comfortable.
- Get involved—parents should show an interest in their child’s homework.
“Parents can also be important models by engaging in things like reading or writing during their child’s homework time,” she says. “It sends a message that ‘homework time’ isn’t just for kids.”
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