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8 Behavioral Cues That May Indicate Your Child Needs Help.


As a boy growing up in Canada, all I ever wanted to do was play hockey. I never gave things like jobs and careers much thought, I never figured out what I wanted to be when I “grew up”, and I certainly did not purposefully set out to become a teacher.

I struggled in school, especially math, and never seemed to find my way. I rarely did my homework, and studying was like a foreign concept. That being said, there was one aspect of school I did love, and that was writing. I was even entered into a Young Writer’s Conference in Grade 5 with some influential Canadian authors, but unfortunately some rather poor experiences in high school English, with a rather unsupportive teacher, extinguished my desire to write. Needless to say, had you asked me at the end of high school if I would become a teacher, you probably would have been laughed at. Despite my own struggles with academics growing up, I have been an educator for the past eleven years or so, in four countries, and have loved every minute of it. 

if there is something that teaching in four countries, with four different curriculums has taught me; it is that they are all pretty much the same. Apart from subtle little differences, Math is Math, and English is English.

Some children excel in school and some children struggle. There is no one perfect curriculum that caters to the specific educational needs of each and every child, and inevitably, there will come a time when all parents, will be faced with the same questions: How do I know if my child is doing well, and how will I know if my child needs help?

While no two children have the same needs, if you recognize any of the following behavioral cues in your child it may be time to reach out for help. 

  • 1. Homework Blues:

    Homework is an important part of a child’s education. It is meant to consolidate learning that occurs in the classroom, encourages independent learning, time management, and a host of other factors. However, if homework struggles have become a nightly ritual, and if tantrums, a poor attitude, procrastination, screaming, and kicking all sound familiar, then this may be your child’s way of asking for help.

  • 2. Avoiding School:

    This one is classic.

    “Moooom. I don’t feel well. I don’t want to go to school today. Cough. Cough.” Let’s be honest – we all tried this at one point or another, usually with a very low success rate. Generally speaking, it is usually very obvious when a child is too ill to attend school, and while it is perfectly normal for most children to want the odd day off, if this type of behavior starts to happen on a regular basis, it could be a warning.

  • 3. Lacks Motivation or Carelessness:

    Everyone can relate to this one. There are times in life when you really don’t want to complete a task, you don’t put forth very much effort, and simply do the minimum to get by. However, children typically have a natural tendency to want to please the adults in their life, whether parent or teacher. If your child is regularly unmotivated by school and shows no interest whatsoever, it's time to find out why. 

    There is always a reason. Perhaps they are not being challenged enough, or perhaps the work is too challenging. Either scenario can manifest in disinterest and a child who is unmotivated by school. 

  • 4. Poor Grades/Test Results:

    Tests are no fun. Ever. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or when you take them. And while I usually caution about reading too much into test scores, like it or not, they are an important part of every child’s education, and when used in the right ways, they can also be an accurate indication of how well your child is progressing at school. If their test scores are consistently low, or do not seem to be in line with their normal school achievement, then it could be time to find out why.

  • 5. Suffers from Low Self-Esteem or Anxiety:

    Anxiety can be quite natural at times. However, the type of anxiety I am talking about here is extreme. Does your child seem stressed out, become physically ill, extremely fearful, or worry constantly about schoolwork?

    This type of behavior can be worrisome in children, and if left unchecked, can present as low self-esteem; severely limiting confidence and the ability to succeed academically.

  • 6. Dishonesty:

    If engaged and interested in school, most children will want to talk about the exciting things they have been learning. There is nothing quite like a child who has learned something new and had a “light bulb moment”. They want to share their newfound knowledge with anyone who will listen. Consider the alternative for a moment. How often have you heard these lines?

    Parent: “What did you learn at school today?”

    Child: “Nothing.”

    “Do you have any homework tonight?”


    “Do you have any studying to do?”


    This will resonate to anyone who has teenagers in the house. However, if you are consistently hearing these responses from your child it should be a red flag, especially for children in upper grades.

  • 7. Poor Time Management Skills or Independence:

    A very important skill, that a lot of schools and curriculums are trying to instill, is for children to be independent learners and take ownership of their education. Try telling this to a ten year old who just wants to play video games or watch television. But, if it seems that homework takes way too long to complete, there is non-stop nagging to get it completed, or always finding out about assignments at the last minute, then your child could benefit from receiving some extra help.

  • 8. Hopelessness:

    Have you or your child given up hope completely? Does it seem like you have tried every possible solution, but nothing seems to work?

    Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence in a lot of households.  Most parents are very supportive of their children. They try helping with homework, only to be met with tears, tantrums, and resistance. Parents try showing alternative methods for solving problems, only to be told, “My teacher won’t let us do it that way.”

    If it seems that all you are doing is pulling out your hair and nothing works, then it may be time to seek outside help to get your child (and your own sanity) back on track.

Before I wrap this up, let me tell you one last short story. I remember trying to learn my times tables as a child. I vividly recall my mother making flashcards and setting the timer on the microwave. Ten minutes practice after dinner, every night. What I remember next is not the actual practice, and not even the fact that I eventually managed to learn my times tables. No, I remember the floods of tears that accompanied that practice each and every night.

Why is this important you may ask? Well, as an adult who is getting closer and closer to his fourth decade, I can tell you that I still remember those struggles growing up. They are ingrained into my memory, and something I constantly assess as a teacher. My goal as a teacher has always been to make sure every student I come across has a better time in school than I did, and looks back at their time with fonder memories than I do.

I am not naïve enough to think that children under my tutelage have never struggled with any of the issues above, in fact quite the contrary, I’m sure many of them have. The simple point I am trying to make, is that if you wonder about any of the behavioral cues or signs above, then ask for help. You are not alone. Your child’s teacher can provide a wealth of knowledge and insight into the fascinating little creature that is your son or daughter. Alternatively, hiring the services of a professional in-home tutor can pay for itself over and over again, by addressing all these needs and more.

Nourishing Minds Tutoring has been the leader in private tutoring in the Capital Region for over 9 years.

We offer qualified, reliable, and knowledgeable tutors who are expert teachers. We take the time to develop a rapport with each student to enable them to reach their fullest academic potential. Simply put, we believe that it is our job to make learning happen.