At some point in life, we all face a challenge. For children, their first real challenge may come at school when faced with a difficult topic or even a learning challenge. These challenges can be immediately discouraging and frustrating to your child, to you as a parent, and even to a teacher. When facing these challenges there are three things you must avoid.

Don't focus on the negative

Never tell a child that they can't. A child can sense frustration from others. If they hear you say "He can't do that", he's going to believe it. Negatives grow quicker than a wildfire left unattended. Over and over he'll repeat the line, "I can't," to himself, until it is the only thing that he believes. The worst thing you can do for any child that is struggling at school is to focus on those things he can't do. Instead, it is important to find positives (even if they are small) and focus the majority of your attention on those.

Don't create a negative atmosphere

Almost as important as the words you say, is the atmosphere or the attitude they sense from you. It is damaging to show them repeated frustration when working with them on homework or school assignments. Your child is already struggling with the task at hand. If they sense that you are becoming frustrated, they begin to feel inadequate and wonder why they should bother continuing to try. Instead, it is your job, as a parent, to create a "no fail" environment. Create an environment where they are free to ask questions, get help, and gain a sense of accomplishment as they complete tasks and assignments. This "no fail" zone will help to build their confidence as they continue to have success.

Don't give up

Finally, under no circumstances should you ever give up. Your child needs you. You cannot write them off and decide that they will not learn. If you have this attitude when working with your child, you should seek a professional tutor or someone who has the patience and skill to stay focused and help your child. Yes, it can be a challenge, but your child needs you to believe in them and their ability to overcome this challenge. As a parent, you can't give up. You must create a plan and find a way to help them succeed.

By avoiding the negative and focusing on the positive you see in your child, you can influence their future success. You will be able to help them find a path, learn new techniques, and learn to deal with any challenge that is presented to them. You must learn to avoid the pitfalls of negativity when dealing with challenges. Instead of continuing to struggle year after year, with a positive approach, you will see your child begin to thrive and even excel.

A. Lynn Scoresby is the founder and president of,, and He has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years and published more than 20 books.

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