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scottby Scott Lutostanski
Director of Academic Consulting

Sundays are often a day of rest and relaxation. A lot of Americans sit on the couch and watch football, do something outside, or have a big family dinner. So often though, I hear that Sunday evenings are nightmarish for students and their parents.

So how does it all go down? It’s quite common, actually. The student has weekly assignments: a paper, a project, or something out of the ordinary. Naturally, the student waits until Sunday night to start working on said assignment and it turns into a pretty awful event for the family.  A few possibilities: the student has a meltdown or tantrum, the parents come down on the student, tension is at an all-time high, or the student is staying up all night and in bad shape the next day. These are just a few of the outcomes that are possible.

What do we need to know about these situations? For starters, the student is not putting himself in this situation on purpose. He or she dislikes it just as much as the parents do. It is the result a skill deficiency. The student lacks the necessary skill development and they have landed in a stressful situation. These skills could be time management, planning, organization, initiation or self-monitoring. These skill struggles will often be accompanied by an emotional reaction as well, such as anger, frustration or embarrassment.

The parents have to play multiple roles in this scenario. They have to be part cheerleader, part teacher, part parent, and part coach. It’s a very difficult and sensitive role to fill. The hardest part is not getting wrapped up in the intense emotion. If dragged into it, this will only contribute to the stress, anxiety and dreadfulness that goes with working on Sunday nights. As hard as it may sound, the parent’s frequent “check-ins” with the student will not help. Odds are, they will only make things worse.

The way to find success in this is to put the pieces in place so that the situation does not exist in the first place. When it comes to long-term projects, papers, or weekend homework in general, the assignments and time are much more abstract. Extremely careful thought has to go into the awareness, the planning, and the organization of these tasks. Along with skill-building will come emotional stability, decrease in intense situations, and hopefully, some more peaceful Sunday nights.

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