Homework battles often top parents’ list of struggles with their kids long before the COVID pandemic made many of us homeschool teachers. The academic pressures our kids are facing is extreme. Academics and learning are certainly important. However, your child’s mental health and your relationship with them is always more important. Remember to keep those a priority.
Focus on your child more than your child’s homework.
Here are some effective techniques for homework battles:
- Choices: Giving kids control in their lives is important. Sometimes pushback is because kids feel like they don’t have any control.
- “Would you like to do homework at the table or on the couch?” “Would you like to start with math or English?” “Would you like to do homework while eating dinner or before dinner?”
- Don’t give choices you wouldn’t want them to choose: “Are you doing your homework now or not doing it?”
- Don’t make threats within choices: “Are you doing your homework now or spending the evening alone in your room?”
- Use statements you can follow through on: “I am happy to take you to practice/the movies/your friend’s house, once your homework is done.” “I am happy to help you with homework, as long as you are working hard and being respectful.”
- Work From the Inside Out: When we develop and foster relationship, our kids feel better about themselves. Kids who feel good, tend to want to work harder. Although grades are important, they are not the most important. Foster their positive character traits.
- Look Behind the Problem: Do they not want to do homework because it is too hard and they’re missing a key point for it to make sense? Are they needing other needs met before their brain can focus on new knowledge?
- Point Out the Good: Do we tend to work hard for people who constantly criticize us? Or do we work harder for people who tell us what we’re doing well? When we constantly point out mistakes or criticize, we don’t make our kids want to try harder. Even what we may think of as “constructive criticism” isn’t really all that helpful to a struggling kid. When they do well on something, help them to identify why they did well.
- Empathy: Be sincerely sad when your kid gets a bad grade. This will be more effective than lecturing, yelling, or punishing. Most kids would rather not disappoint you. But they may not care if they make you mad.
- Foster a Growth Mindset and Resilience: How does your child view challenges? Do they instantly believe they aren’t capable? Do they believe challenges are an opportunity to grow and develop their brain? When your kids face a challenge, help them remember times they overcame something similar. Help them find ways to overcome the current challenge. Help them see why they were successful. Talk about times you overcame challenges.
- Redefine Success: Most of our talents and character traits can’t be measured by a standardized test. The things that make us successful in life aren’t found in textbooks.
Remember to keep your relationship with your kids as your top priority. When they are struggling, be sure to be empathetic and understanding.
By: Emily Scott, PhD
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