Expert Parent Advice

5 Tips to Avoid Homework Battles

With the school year underway, homework is a ripe battleground for power struggles between parents and kids.  Learn the underlying causes of homework hassles and the top five ways to avoid them.

I’m Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, and I’m proud to partner with Kids ‘R’ Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice series.  Today, we’re talking about homework battles. 

The very mention of this word “homework” makes almost as many parents groan as kids.  How do you motivate them to get it done and do it well?

The following five tips will help you avoid homework battles in your house:

  1. Dig deeper.  Sometimes homework battles are ordinary power struggles, but sometimes there is something more going on.  Your child may have a learning difference that hasn’t yet been diagnosed.  Or he may be falling behind in school.  Very often kids will put on a face of “false bravado” because it’s easier to act like they don’t care rather than face the shame of not being able to keep up.  Talk to your child’s teacher or guidance counselor to find out if there have been any changes at school.  Is your child struggling academically or socially?  Getting to the root of the struggle will help you address the problem more effectively.
  2. Use when-then routines.  In a when-then routine, the yucky stuff must be done before the enjoyable activities of the day.  For example, you can tell your kids, “When your homework is completely finished, then you can go outside and play (or, enjoy TV time, texting, the computer, etc.).”  If your child plays sports, your when-then routine may be, “When your homework is done, then we’ll leave for soccer practice.”  If he dilly-dallies through the homework, he may be late for soccer—but you can bet that the logical consequence of having to explain to his coach why he’s late (and run a few extra laps) will ensure he works through his homework more efficiently next time.
  3. Remove the distractions.Make sure nothing, and especially the TV, Internet, phone, or iPod, gets in the way of your child’s homework success. That way, she’ll spend more quality time with her studies but be able to get done in less time – so she can get on with the business of having fun!
  4. Avoid “red pencil” mentality. If you review your child’s homework, focus on the progress she’s making and not just the wrong answers.  Celebrate mistakes as great learning opportunities!
  5. Ignore the whining! While these suggestions will improve the homework situation in your home, we can’t guarantee they’ll make your kids love doing worksheets or studying for the history test. That’s okay—but there’s no need for you to respond to their moaning and complaints, and doing so will only make the whining continue. You’re better off tuning it out entirely.

Paying for Grades – Good or Bad Idea?

Does paying for grades boost or squelch motivation? Be sure to check out the Bonus Material in the interactive that goes along with this segment to discover the important answer to that question.

And… visit us often for more helpful solutions from the Kids ‘R’ Kids Expert Parenting Advice series.