Feeling stuck trying to get your child to do their homework? Many parents face this nightly problem so don’t feel alone. Sometimes just thinking of those six words “it’s time to do your homework” often cause parents to shutter in anxiety of knowing the struggle of what’s to come.
Let’s face it, for most children, home work isn’t fun. It’s work. ……… “Home WORK”. It’s a chore for not only the child but the parent. Of course in a perfect world the only one doing the “work” will be the child. But let’s face it, we all know the parent has to be the one to set the time, answer questions, and be around to be sure the child does the work. It’s work for parents too. You have things you need to be doing such as fixing dinner, or just relaxing after your own stressful day, and of course your child would much rather be (hopefully) outside playing, hanging out with friends, and just doing anything else.
It can quickly become a power struggle between yourself and your child. Then it becomes a no win situation. You both become frustrated and then what should have taken 30 minutes becomes a 2 hour “hostage” situation.
One thing I know that children need is structure and consistency. Developing a routine is one of the sure fire ways of helping your child feel not only safe and secure, but also helps them develop a sense of mastery as well as helping them develop a positive self esteem. Learning to put time away for important tasks helps them with their own organization skills. A good article to read on the importance of routines can be found here at ahaparenting.
Here are some ways to help your week nights go a little smoother:
- Develop a schedule. Try to have the child do their homework at the same time every evening. Have meals and bedtimes at regular times and give the same consideration to homework. Of course this is easier said than done. If you know there is practice or a game for one of your child’s sports, or activities, be creative. Look for 30 minutes before you leave. The days that you are not headed to a practice of some sort is the days to be sure you have a set time and place to do the work. Let your child help develop this schedule. Allowing them some say can help encourage participation.
- Pick a quiet spot. A place without distractions such as TV, or other activities is a must. A place where younger brother or sister doesn’t interfere. It should be a technology free zone (unless homework involves some type of technology use). If you have more than one child trying to do homework at the same time and place, if they become distractions to each other you might want to find each of them their own place. For some children, having someone else with them to also do work helps, for others it creates a distraction.
- Make sure all material is handy and available before they start. This eliminates “I don’t have a pencil” and other manipulating techniques to get to get out of work.
- Establish clear expectations with rewards and consequences. And I can’t say (write) this enough……. STICK TO IT!!! Rules such as all homework must be turned in on time, and getting no less than a “C” on all homework are also important expectations to have. Rewards can be simple but also must be consistent. Something such as getting all homework done during the evening means an hour of technology at night, or getting “C’s” or above on all homework will get another hour over the weekend.
- A word of caution…… bribes don’t work. You might get them to do their work on an occasion or two with a bribe but in the end what are you teaching them? That you can be manipulated to give them something they want by doing something they were supposed to do in the first place. Rewards aren’t the same as bribes.