Call me old fashioned. In my opinion, many schools nowadays are wrongly pressuring parents to take responsibility for getting their kids to do homework.  Great. Just what you need – another thing to nag your children about.

Problem is, it doesn’t work. It just generates tension, conflict, and resistance. It undermines the quality of your relationship with your child, which, in the long run is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT to your child’s development and success in life than homework.

And if you continue long term as homework cop, you are actually undermining the development of personal responsibility in your child. How can your child learn to take charge of him or herself and learn to do homework consistently and well if he/she never gets a chance to do this (because you take over)?

So here are three good reasons to stop policing and leave homework to your child:

  1. Your child will get better at managing. When taking care of homework is the child’s responsibility, he/she has many opportunities to learn and improve. When you manage homework for him or her, your child loses these opportunities to develop his or her own skills and abilities. (Give a man a fish, teach a man to fish…)
  2. Your child will feel more competent and independent.
  3. Your relationship with your child will improve. Offer to help when he/she needs help and stay available for help, but leave the job to him/her. You foster independence and cooperation, instead of compliance. Communication will improve and you will get to enjoy your child more.

Remember that there are big individual differences among kids in how naturally skilled they are at  managing this responsibility well. If your child has difficulties with attention and executive function, then he or she will probably need more help and support from you to learn and build these skills. But your family life will be much more harmonious if your role is helping your child build these skills over time, rather than making him do his homework now.

Of course you still have many ways to influence your child.

  1. Show him or her good management skills and let him learn by observing. Its often helpful to talk out loud to yourself as you manage yourself. Your child can overhear and in this way observe what is usually an internal process.  “OK, I think I’ll take some time now to start getting tax information organized. Its due in a month so I want to get a head start. It’s really boring but I don’t want to have to rush at the last minute.” Or  “I’m really tired now and don’t want to do the dishes, but they need to get done. So I’ll just do it . Then I get to sit down with my book as soon as I’m done”.
  2. Try to build structure and consistency collaboratively with your child. Talk with him/her about when and where it will be best to get homework done.  Ideally over time, you and your child will build a routine that works.
  3. Use logical consequences rather than imposing your will. You pay the electric, internet, and phone bills, so this is your business. Homework is your child’s business. By paying for your child to spend his time playing on screens rather than doing homework, you are actually actually fostering an unhealthy habit. So don’t. It’s simple: “We all have to get work done before we play. Homework is your work. As soon as it’s done, you can access your electronics. But not until.”   Then its up to them.    

We know that this is not as easy as it sounds. We can help…Contact us.