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This Is the Help Your Child Really Needs to Overcome Stress in School
  • All parents want to see their children succeed in school. So we encourage them, praise their efforts, and assist them in their study (do not do their homework for them, okay?). But a recent study says there may be one simple thing parents can do to help children thrive in their academic life: just learn to listen!

    A study published in the journal Pediatrics on July 8, 2019, found that the simple act of listening can help children overcome different kinds of stress and trauma and perform well in school. As Romper notes, the study claimed that “a parent’s ability to be kind, caring, and a good listener is directly tied to a child’s likelihood to overcome problems and do well in school, even if there has been trouble at school or home in the past.”

    The researchers looked into data from a 2011-2012 survey of more than 65,000 children from the U.S. who were between the ages 6 and 17 years old at the time. They focused on how stressful events in a child’s life, such as violence inside the home or in the community, economic struggles, addiction or mental illness in the family, a divorce or separation, or the death or incarceration of a guardian, can affect him later in his life.

    As WebMD reports, the researchers found those kinds of traumatic events can cause a child to become disinterested in school and neglect his academic work completely, making the likelihood of repeating a grade significantly higher.


    This adverse effect increases with each additional traumatic event that occurs in the child’s life. In fact, children who experienced four or more adverse life events in their lives were found to be almost three times more likely to repeat a grade and four times more likely not to care about doing homework at all.

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    The researchers, however, also found that the presence of a sympathetic parent who knows how to care and listen to his or her child has an incredibly powerful impact on a child’s school performance. A caring parent actually significantly increased a child’s odds of accomplishing his homework, being involved in school, and not having to repeat a grade.

    According to Angelica Robles, M.D., a pediatrician at Novant Health Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics in North Carolina, U.S.A., who served as lead researcher of the study, “The parent really had the biggest influence. Kids were six times more likely to complete homework and six times more likely to care about school” if they had at least one parent who would take the time to listen and talk to them, Romper reports.

    “A child who had experienced trauma in their life was able to do so much better in school if they said their parent cared about them and that they could talk about things together,” Dr. Rebecca Dudovitz, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles who had written an editorial accompanying the study, also shared.

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    Even supportive neighbors can influence a child’s school performance positively. HealthDay reports that, according to the study, a supportive neighbor can make a child 85% more likely to accomplish his homework, 60% more likely to care about school, and 40% more likely to not have to repeat a grade.

    According to Dr. Dudovitz, this is not the first study to show that the presence of a caring adult can increase a child’s chances of succeeding in life. For example, there is one study which found that a child’s positive relationship with a coach or a teacher can actually reduce his likelihood of suffering from substance abuse.

    “There’s a lot of studies to suggest that even relationships with people who are not the parents make a huge difference,” Dr. Dudovitz said, as reported by WebMD. “Just being able to cite that you have a caring adult in your life is associated with a whole host of positive health outcomes.”

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