Is there a power struggle between you and your child when it comes to doing homework? Do you feel stressed and frustrated because you’re unsure on how to get your child to do their homework? To help learn common mistakes parents make when trying to get their child to do their homework and what a parent can do to successfully get their child to do their homework, I have interviewed clinical psychologist Dr. Colleen Hamilton.
Tell me a little bit about yourself?
“My name is Dr. Colleen Hamilton and I am a clinical psychologist at Lepage Associates Solution-Based Psychological & Psychiatric Services. We are a group practice providing evaluation/testing, therapy, and consultation to individuals of all ages, as well as to couples, groups, and families. One of the specialty areas of the practice and myself is children and families. We work with a wide range of presenting problems including school difficulties, anxiety, depression, behavior problems, low self-esteem, peer relationships, attention difficulties, mood disorders, trauma and abuse, self-care, and parent-child relational difficulties.”
What are common mistakes that parents make when getting their child to do their homework?
“One common mistake that parents make when getting their children to do their homework is engaging in a power struggle with them over completing their assignments. Negotiating with your child regarding homework creates tension in interactions and sends the child the message the expectation of completing homework is open to discussion.
Another common area of difficulty is when parents step beyond coaching and guiding their children with their homework, to essentially doing the assignments for them. This does not give their teachers an accurate representation of where the child is functioning academically and can impede further learning. It impedes the child’s learning process and sends the message they are not capable of completing work independently, thus potentially damaging self-confidence. Academic self-confidence largely impacts a child’s performance.”
What type of impact can those mistakes have on a parent child relationship?
“Engaging in power struggles with your child creates tension in overall interactions and has a negative impact on the relationship. It removes the parent’s authority in this domain and consequently in others as well. In addition, parents play a crucial role in building a child’s self-esteem. This is done through providing consistent encouragement and praise, which becomes less likely when engaged in power struggles.”
What can parents do to get their child to do their homework?
“Completing homework accurately is critical to a child’s overall academic achievement and success. Parents who emphasize homework send the message to their child that their schooling is important and create a successful academic environment. Setting expectations regarding homework is essential to develop positive work habits in children.”
“There are many things that parents can do to assist their child in successfully completing their homework. These include:
Providing a rationale for completing homework ‘” when children understand that the benefit for them includes reinforcing what has been learned in school to make future learning easier, they are more likely to complete their assignments.”
“Increasing involvement in their child’s academics ‘” asking about assignments, and following up to ensure that assignments have been completed.”
“Scheduling a time daily for homework to be completed ‘” you may provide a short break immediately after school, but start on homework soon after so that he child still has energy and there is ample time for homework to be completed.”
“Setting up a workspace in the home for your child to complete homework ‘” this space should have ample light, supplies, minimum noise and distractions, and be technology free to minimize outside distractions.”
“Providing your child with incentives for completing their work accurately ‘” learn what motivates your child, give your child praise, and hold your child accountable for completing their assignments.”
“Assisting your child in developing organizational skills ‘” teaches your child to accurately record assignments, bring home necessary materials, manage their time, and return assignments to school.”
“Helping the child experience success with assignments – express belief in their ability to be successful and asking guiding questions when your child is seeking assistance.”
“Creating expectations for completing homework on a consistent basis – develop a homework contract with your child establishing guidelines for completing assignments, express your confidence in your child’s ability to meet these guidelines, and include incentives.”
“If your child is struggling significantly with homework assignments or taking an excessive amount of time to complete their homework, parents should contact their child’s teacher to discuss possible difficulties and ways that they may assist their child in completing assignments. Some children who struggle with homework have an undiagnosed learning disability or AD/HD, so it is important to discover if it is behavioral or an underlying disorder that is interfering so teachers and parents can provide the correct intervention for the child to get them on track.”
What type of help is available for a parent who continues to express frustration over their child completing their homework?
“Again speaking with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or seeking the assistance of a therapist may be beneficial if homework continues to be a problem for your child. There may be underlying issues that need to be addressed, including learning disabilities, motivational issues, social difficulties, or emotional difficulties that are interfering with your child’s academic performance. An assessment by a psychologist can be a first step to accurately identifying the problem; accurate assessment is vital to finding a successful solution.”
What last advice would you like to leave for parents who have a difficult time in getting their child to do their homework?
“Helping your child plan for larger assignments is a critical skill that is not always emphasized in school, but can be very beneficial. Breaking down assignments into smaller segments teaches your child not to procrastinate and allows for seeking out additional guidance if needed.”
“Lastly, become your child’s ally in being successful in school. Help them problem solve when faced with academic obstacles. You always want to remind them that you are there to support them and look out for their best interests; you are not just the “homework police”.”
Thank you Dr. Hamilton for the interview on how to get your child to do their homework. If you would like to learn more about Lepage Associates or Dr. Colleen Hamilton visit www.lepageassociates.com.
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