With the clocks turned back and the sun setting earlier and earlier each day, both parents and children can find themselves feeling more tired and less motivated than they did during the warmer, lighter months. Many students report having a harder time getting their homework done during the late fall and early winter and may struggle to consistently complete and turn in their work. Additionally, around this time of year students begin to feel tired and find it more difficult to continue working at the same pace that they had at the beginning of the year.
It's important to remember that it's normal to get a range of feelings throughout the day, week, month, and even year. Even though apathy, exhaustion, frustration, etc. are emotions that don't feel good, they are 100% normal emotions that people experience from time to time. When children have these emotions it actually provides an opportunity for parents to help their child understand and navigate these emotions. By simply validating your child's feelings and experiences, it helps them to know that this is something that they can share with you and get support for, as they will most likely experience feelings of sadness, frustration, melancholy again in their life. It might sound something like, "You've been working really hard this year, and it's normal to sometimes feel tired or to feel less motivated. Thank you for sharing this with me, I always want to hear how you are doing and we are always here to support you."
Children may start to struggle to keep their grades up or complete their assignments when they are feeling more tired and less motivated this time of year. Taking some pressure off of children and offering them support will help them to feel better. Parents can let their children know that it is important to continue to put in a good effort, but be sure to avoid power struggles. Be aware that your child's effort right now might look different than it did at the beginning of the year and offering support by sitting with them, helping them to plan out their week, or talking through their assignments can help them to persevere.
If children are starting to feel badly about themselves, the best way for parents to help them to feel better lies within the context of their relationship with their child. When parents are able to spend quality time with their child and do activities that their children enjoy, they help to preserve and boost their child's self-esteem. For young children, this could look like playing dress-up or building with Legos; for school-aged children this could look like playing their favorite video game, baking cookies, or going to the park to shoot basketballs; for adolescents this could be going shopping together, going to the movies, or going out to dinner. Your strong, positive connection with your child strengthens their feelings of self-worth and helps your child to know that they are loved even when they are feeling badly about themselves or having trouble getting their school work done.
Remember that while your child's behavior may be unpleasant, they are normal reactions to the emotions they are experiencing and they should not be made to feel bad for feeling the way they do. Because they are children and immature they will need help and guidance for when emotions become too much. Encouraging an open and supportive relationship will help to ensure that they feel comfortable going to you for help. But if after some time your child doesn't begin to feel better, they become more withdrawn, or they aren't participating in activities that they normally enjoy, it might be appropriate to talk to a professional.