My daughter hates doing her schoolwork.
Tonight she completely freaked out about it and had one of her big tantrums. At first I got really mad at her and took some toys away from her. This is kind-of the only move I've got at the moment punishment-wise, but it made things worse, maybe much worse.
So she stomped and screamed and glared and generally made everyone miserable for a while.
I finally cornered her and got her to talk, or at least listen. I told her that I knew she was having some really big feelings, and that maybe she's scared or mad or upset or worried, and that the best thing to do about feelings like that was to talk to someone. I told her that she could talk to me, or mommy, or other people in her life and that everyone would listen and help. She yelled at me for a little while, but eventually she calmed down enough to talk a little bit.
When she finally opened up a little it was not what I expected. She said she wasn't mad at me, she was mad at her iPad because it always tried to help her when she got the answer wrong. So I told her a story, I told her that I need to ask for help all the time. I explained to her that one of the things about being a good programmer is that you need to know that you don't know all the answers and that you probably can't get it right on the first try. That part of being really good at my job is being willing to admit that there are things a lot of things that I am not good at or that I don't know how to do or that I need help with.
I am not sure how much of that really sunk in, but she stopped freaking out enough that I could talk to her a little bit more about how important it is to talk about feelings instead of just letting them swell up inside herself. She didn't open up any more, but she did listen, or at least I think she did. I told her that I have big feelings too, and that it helps me to talk about them too. She's a smart and stubborn kid, and I don't think she would have listened at all if it wasn't getting through at least a little bit.
But of course, just as I'm finishing writing this, an hour past bedtime, down the stairs she stomps...