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Enabling children to manage cultural differences

Priyanjali Paul

Priyanjali PAUL

My nine-year-old son is struggling academically, and I’m very concerned about his years in school. Please advise.
— Ritika Soma, Mumbai

Here are some suggestions to support your son’s learning and academic difficulties:

Understand his academic challenges. Invest time and effort to understand your son’s specific academic challenges and learning style. Talk to his teachers, review his schoolwork, and observe his study habits to identify areas of difficulty.

Create a supportive home environment. Establish a positive and supportive environment at home that encourages learning and growth. Provide a quiet and organised

space for study, free from distractions. Encourage open communication and be available to help with homework and school projects.

Set realistic expectations. Be realistic about your son’s academic capabilities and set achievable goals. Focus on progress rather than perfection, and celebrate effort and milestones along the way.

shutterstock_572288302 copyEncourage effective study habits. Teach him effective study techniques, such as time management, organisation, and active learning strategies. For instance, teach him to break down lessons into smaller, manageable portions and establish a consistent study routine.

Provide emotional support. Acknowledge that academic struggles are emotionally challenging for children. Offer your support, empathy, encouragement, and reassurance, and most important, teach him coping mechanisms to manage academic stress and frustration.

Maintain a healthy balance. Ensure your son maintains a healthy balance between academics, co-curricular activities, physical exercise and downtime. Encourage regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and adequate sleep to support overall well-being, which will boost cognitive functioning.

Seek additional support if needed. Consider private tutoring, doing a psychological assessment and/or other academic interventions.

My child is experiencing a major life transition. We are moving cities and she dreads attending a new school. She is not good at making friends. How can I help her navigate this change and cope with the associated stress?
— Joshini Mathew, Chennai

Navigating such transitions is challenging for children. Here are some ways you can enable her to adjust to change and cope with the stress:

Encourage age-appropriate conversations. Children are not always able to express their emotions verbally, and internalise their feelings of anxiety and stress. It’s important that you initiate age-appropriate conversations with your daughter about moving to a new city, explain the reasons and address her questions and fears.

Acknowledge her emotions. Validating your daughter’s emotions is essential during this time of change. Let her know that it’s normal to be apprehensive, sad, and excited about the imminent migration. Acknowledge her emotions without judgement and reassure her that you’re there to support her every step of the way.

Maintain routine and stability. Amidst the uncertainty of change, maintaining your daily routine provides children with a sense of security and stability. Try to maintain the daily family routine such as mealtimes, bedtime rituals, and family activities. Predictability will alleviate anxiety and create a sense of normalcy during the transition.

Encourage social connections. Encourage your daughter to maintain connections with friends, family members, and other supportive individuals during the transition. After moving, encourage her to make new friends, arrange playdates, do video chats, and participate in activities that foster social bonding and a sense of belonging.

(Priyanjali Paul is a Mumbai-based clinical psychologist)

Also read: Importance of cross-cultural education

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