Algonquin

Homework Battles

Jul 15, 2020

I have seen a plethora of parents walk in at Best Brains or call and text me that they are at their wit’s end because their child just will not do their homework. Such situations are stressful for the parents and the child alike and at that point, there is no learning happening.

The same child walks in at Best Brains and I would have no inkling that they are having trouble with focusing on their work because they breeze through it.

Same child, same work, what’s the difference?

At first I used to think it was the environment, Best Brains has a quiet study-mode vibe to it as opposed to the hustle bustle and distractions at home. Yes, maybe that’s 10% of it.

Mostly it’s about the mindset.

When a child says they don’t want to do their work. We need to believe them. They are in fact struggling with it, not because the problems are too challenging but because of precisely what they said; “They don’t WANT to do their work.”

There are three kinds of responses to this:

  • You have to do it.
  • Just forget about it.
  • It is hard for you to do it because you’d rather do something else. You can do a great job, we both know it!

Which one sounds the most respectful? Which one is striking a balance between your child’s needs and wants? The third response, right? Yes, that really is the happy medium.

Validating a child’s feelings would be the very first step for pretty much anything they experience. As a parent, validation is focusing on the process instead of the outcome and giving your child the emotional space to express themselves.

Here is what happened when I tried it. My son vented and huffed and puffed in his room for 30 minutes the first day. The second day he told me I never want him to have any fun. The third day he was mildly annoyed that he couldn’t get any screen or playtime until he is done with work. On the fourth day I started off by reminding him it’s not about me wanting him not to have fun, he wasn’t happy but he did his work in 20 minutes! On the fifth day, after breakfast he pulled his books out without being asked, he sat down and knocked those math problems out.

Now if we expect Day 5 results on Day 1, we are fooling ourselves. As parents, we know these things take time so prepare yourself; set out time for the kids to process their emotions around homework. Being firm in their routine helps them learn resolve too. These healthy boundaries combined with a non-judgmental space are what add up to a well-rounded upbringing. Prepare yourself for the initial turbulence and then see them breeze through it!

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