What to do if your child resists tutoring

Apr 28, 2022 | Articles, Parenting Tips, Tutoring Tips

What do you do if your child resists the idea of tutoring?

You’ve been researching tutoring companies for months, talking to your child’s teacher, and double-checking your budget. Now it’s time to make the move—to officially hire a tutor for your child. Things are starting to look up and you can already feel the blanket of anxiety starting to lift. You decide to have the initial conversation with your child and BOOM! Things go south as they meet this idea with a boisterous “no!” They vehemently resist the idea of tutoring.

Resisting Tutoring is Normal

First of all: Resisting tutoring is normal. As humans, we don’t like doing things we don’t feel successful at. And there’s a big chance that you are seeking tutoring for your child because they are not meeting expectations at school. It’s not a preferred task, and let’s face it—we want to keep doing the things that make us feel good about ourselves.

Here’s the good news. Once your child starts tutoring, they will feel more successful with learning. Once they are feeling more successful, they will want to engage in the task more. And once they engage in the task more and more, they will begin to actually enjoy it and the confidence boosts keep on coming.

One Negative Learnining Experience Can Have a Big Impact

It only takes one comment from a grownup, one gut-punch bad grade, one negative experience to turn a child away from learning. When they are approached with another learning opportunity, that one negative experience can overshadow any hope that might be hiding under the surface. It’s called positive-negative asymmetry: we can give much more weight to negative experiences that the positive in our memories. One of our most important jobs as grownups is to ensure that our children have great memories associated with learning and find the joy that makes them a lifelong learner, through and through. That’s where tutoring comes in!

That’s all great, but my child still resists the idea of tutoring. What do I do? 

We hear you: How do we get to that first session so the domino chain leading to confidence boosts begins?

Here are some things to try if your child is resisting tutoring. We’ll preface as well that if you try these and your child still strongly resists (we’re talking about the “won’t even get in the car” refusal), your child is probably not ready.

Identify why your child resists tutoring.

Start a conversation with your child that is about exploring what’s causing that resistance. Let them lead the conversation and reassure them that you are trying to get a better idea about what is causing these big feelings. Is it the idea of working with a teacher? Is tutoring replacing a fun, preferred activity? Is it embarrassing? Are they afraid that peers will see them? If you know the root cause of the refusal, it may help address the underlying problem.

Work with your child to set a personal goal.

Think of it like training for a marathon: if you want to meet a goal, you need help! If your child has a particular, personal goal set, they will be more likely to put in the time to work on creating progress and change. Full disclosure: This should be their goal, not yours.

Develop a reward system.

We do what we have to do as parents and caregivers! No judgment. Sometimes we need to set a reward for our children (and even ourselves!) to work towards. Maybe it’s a new book at the end of their first month? An extra one-on-one parent date? A new video game? Talk to your child about a reward they can work towards earning. Sometimes we have to start with extrinsic motivation in order to build momentum towards intrinsic motivation.

Discuss the challenge with your tutoring provider.

Chat with your tutoring provider about why your child may be resisting tutoring. It could be that Junior is embarrassed by peers seeing them receiving additional support, in which case scheduling at a time when no other students are in the classroom can be a perfect solution. Creative solutions can be found as you work together as a team.

For further reading, please check out the following resources:

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash


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