“Do you have homework today?”
“Go do your homework.”
“Are you done with your homework?”
“Let’s do your homework.”
“We need to go out in 15 minutes, please finish your homework.”
“It’s getting late, please do your homework, ok?”
“It’s almost bedtime! Go do your homework!!”
During the afternoons, most of the struggles and arguments with school-aged kids are around homework. These arguments affect the relationships between parents and their kids.
So, what can we do?
General Tips for approaching homework
Where? Make sure that they have a quiet place to sit. Put all the supplies they need within reach. This way they don’t need to start looking for a pencil or an eraser every time (which will waste time and while they are searching they will probably find much more interesting things to do instead of homework….)
When? Keeping a steady schedule helps kids know what’s expected of them and when. Try to set a timeframe for doing homework. For example – after the kids return from school, they eat a snack, relax a little bit and then sit to do their homework.
Give them a choice – let them choose when and where they want to do their homework. They can choose between two options that work for you (before or after the snack, in the kitchen or in the living room etc.) They will feel responsible for doing their homework if they get to choose.
Should I sit with them? Kids in the lower grades often need guidance when doing their homework. They don’t always know how to read well enough to understand the instructions. Parents can guide them and answer questions they have, but we need to keep in mind that we want to develop their independence so that in the future they won’t depend on us while doing their homework. So, try to be around them while they do their homework, but encourage them to think and find the answers by themselves. If you feel they need you closer to them, sit with them and gradually try to stay away. Be nearby doing other things, but let them cope by themselves.
Why is he still arguing about homework?!
Many times, parents tell me they let their child choose when and where to do his homework, all the supplies are ready and yet… he just won’t sit and do them! He keeps postponing, finding better things to do, arguing with them about the homework and most afternoons look like a crazy battle around homework.
In these cases, most of the time it is not even about homework. It’s about the attention he gets from his parents. The child just found a subject to argue with his parents about. He found a way to get their attention. According to the Adlerian approach, the main purpose of every human being is to belong. Belonging to his family, to a group of friends, etc. One way to feel that we belong is by getting attention and being seen. It doesn’t matter if it’s positive attention or negative. If we argue and talk and talk and talk about the homework, we give our child attention. We need to focus on giving our child positive attention. Encourage him. We need to stop giving him attention when he misbehaves. Once we stop, the bad behavior will stop.
So back to his homework…
Think about all the attention we give our child during the afternoons when we argue with him about his homework. Now let’s stop that. Trust your kid. Don’t ask him repeatedly if he did his homework. Let him be in charge. If he will fail once, he will learn that in the future he should try harder.
And when we stop giving attention in one place, we need to give it in another place. Encourage your child on every little thing he does. At first, it might sound fake to you, but you will see how the attention helps.
It is always hard to let go but we need to remember that If we will continue to remind them, they will never learn to trust themselves and be responsible.