Keys for Happy Children and Hassle-Free Homework

During the school year, I often hear complaints from parents about their constant struggle with their children and teens to do their homework. The most frequent parental complaints are: children and teens procrastinate their school work and wait until the last minute for long-term projects. Or they do their work quickly just to get it over with and do a poor job. And occasionally, teens outright refuse to do their work or the opposite—they lean too heavily on their parents for assistance asking incessant questions.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

School work and homework go hand in hand

Challenges with Keys to Empower Children with Homework

Disciplined study habits, academic fortitude and the ability to focus do not develop quickly. However, there are a few small keys that open big doors and set the foundation for success, especially when it comes to homework. No matter what the challenge or whether it's at home or at school, you can use these keys to help your child or teen dramatically improve their work habits and avoid power struggles.

Elementary girl burdened with a heavy school backpack.CHALLENGE #1:
Parents expect their children or teens to do homework right after school.

KEY #1: 
Allow your child or teen
to choose when they do homework,
as long as it doesn't require them to stay up too late and they maintain acceptable grades and they feel good about. Many times parents have the misconception that positive discipline means getting their children to do homework right after school. However, the child or teen has been in school all day; they usually need a break, some exercise, or time to decompress.

School is their work, and they have a need and a right to relax a little afterward. Sometimes when you give them a say in when they do homework, they not only do it cheerfully but they may even opt to complete it right after school. However, if you insist (or nag) they at their homework completed at a certain time with no discussion or consideration of their needs, you are likely to create a major power struggle.

 child or teen is overwhelmed by the amount of work or an assignment.

KEY #2:
Teach your child or teen how to break down large projects into manageable parts.

Sometimes your child puts off or resists homework because they feel overwhelmed or inadequate in the work. Perhaps, they have a fixed mindset, and they tell themselves they're lousy at a particular subject. Discouraging self-talk can be enough to block accomplishing their homework.

If they have difficulty focusing, encourage them to take breaks. Together, do a quick brainstorming session or write a short outline of what needs to be accomplished. These things will help homework seem less daunting.

Talk to them regularly about what homework they bring home. A brief discussion about the work with a caring parent can alleviate a child's stress and sense of being overwhelmed.

If you'd like to get customized support and learn practical tools to motivate your children, reach out to Heartmanity!

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Older brother assisting his younger brother with homework.

CHALLENGE #3:       
Parents are more invested in grades than their children or teens.

Understandably, parents want their children to learn and achieve academic excellence. However, children—and especially teens—must be invested in their own learning and academic achievement. If you are too attached to excellent grades, they will use your attachment to create power struggles to maintain autonomy.

KEY #3:                                
Involve your child or teen in their academic success...
the younger you start, the better!

  • Get the older kids to help and tutor the younger ones.
  • Ask open-ended questions that reveal your sincere interest. The more meaningful dialogue you can initiate, the more likely you'll help your child connect the dots to true motivation.
  • Explore what subjects they like and dislike, which ones are easy and which are hard for them. It's helpful to encourage new ways of looking at topics they find difficult or uninteresting. When we make relevant connections, we assist our children in succeeding.
  • Talk to them and find out what their goals are or what grades they would like to earn.
If they are struggling in a particular class, ask what support they need or want. Perhaps have them find a friend who is adept in that subject, set aside time in the evening to assist them, or get them a tutor.

Discuss with your child or teenager the benefits of good study habits and grades. For example, academic excellence increases children's self-confidence and gives teens better opportunities for scholarships and acceptance into colleges of their choice.

No one can make a child or a teen learn and study, so homework is one area in which children tend to assert their power. Halfway through the school year or leading up to the holidays, homework can become grueling, and it might require some adjustment to stay the course of daily study. 

Re-engineer how your child approaches their work by introducing a new schedule, a different perspective, or a fun activity. 
Give them power appropriately and watch them cooperate and take pride in their work.

The more invested children and teenagers are in their own success, the more they will love learning—and homework will be without hassles!

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Jennifer A. Williams / Parent CoachJennifer A. Williams / Parent Coach
Jennifer is the Heartmanity Founder and a parent coach and behavioral consultant with two decades of experience. She is a Parent Instructor and Instructor Trainer for the International Network of Children and Families and author of several parenting courses, including How to Bully-Proof Your Child and Hacking the Teen Brain. Jennifer is happily married and a mother to 3 fantastic grown children.

Posted in Perfectly Imperfect Parenting

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