For the Kid Who Hates Homework: 10 Tips Worth Trying

Not surprisingly, there are many young people out there in the world who do not get excited about doing homework. This reaction is quite understandable since none of us adults like having to do homework either. For many this is truly a frustrating situation. Since the school can’t make kids do their homework it naturally falls onto the shoulders of the people at “home” — aka the parents. These are the same parents who have a hard time getting said child out the door to catch the bus and to help clean up after dinner. These are the same parents who often work full-time jobs and are tired at the end of the day. If you are one of those parents and have one of those students who resists homework here are a few strategies you can implement:

1. Some students lie about having homework to avoid doing it. If the following conversation sounds familiar, you may need to set-up a string operation.

Mom: “Jeremy do you have any homework?”
Jeremy: “No.”
Mom: “Really?”
Jeremy: “No we didn’t get any today..”
(note: Jeremy is lying)

This conversation goes on around millions of homes worldwide everyday. If you find out your child has been lying to you (which they will deny and blame the lack of information on the teacher) then it is time to set up a sting operation. You can often check teacher’s websites for homework due dates and information on upcoming tests and projects. Calling their teachers the day before also works to provide you with ample information. Every time say they don’t have homework and you know they do, you can take something away from them such as a dollar or their game controllers or phones. Go for whatever causes the most pain. Give them their items, which you likely paid for, back only when they can show you the completed assignment. Be sure to pick a strategy you can live with and be prepared to go head-to-head for a long time because some children are stubborn and will go all year without games to avoid doing homework.

2. Get on top of the work. Set up a standard time everyday to check in and review what is due before your child gets started on his/her tasks. Your child should be able to tell you what assignments are due each day. Kids can record their assignments in a planner or even take pictures of it each day on their phones. Set up a time in the evening to check your child’s homework and verify that it has been completed. You may also want to collect cell phones and iTouches at this time to ensure no late night conversations are happening.

3. Chunk the homework so it is manageable. Consider buying a timer so your child can take a break every 15 minutes. A typical homework plan could look similar to this 4:00-5:00 TV/snack…. 5:00-5:15 Chemistry …5 minute break …5:20-5:35 Spanish Vocab…. 5 minute break …etc…. Kids with ADD/ADHD often do better with frequent breaks. The key here is that the student has want this type of structure and be willing to follow through on it.

4. Keep up with Engrade or your school’s grading program nightly. While these grading systems are far from perfect they do help keep the zeros at bay. Zeros are grade killers and should be avoided at all costs. Do not get upset with teachers for not letting you know when your child is not turning in homework; most high school teachers are working with over 120 plus student per day.

5. Give your child space to do their homework anyway they see fit for a few weeks — for example, in front of the TV while texting friends. Be prepared because they will find ways to study that challenge even the most resolute parent. If they successfully get their work done then let them keep their unique study method. However if their grades suffer then you get to decide on the environment.

6. Be prepared to let your child suffer the consequences of their actions. For example if they fail a class then sitting through summer school one time may motivate them to pass their courses in the future. This is also a life lesson and better learned before they move back home with you in their 30’s because they can’t hold a job and blame everyone else for their circumstances.

7. Work with your child on establishing a plan for the future. Many of the most zealous students are motivated because they have a goal in mind and they know where they are headed whether it is a college or career path. Rarely are they motivated by their undying love for learning Chemistry equations. The ability to help kids plan long-term and delay gratification is a life skill worth investing both time and energy into cultivating.

8. Consider sending your student away to summer camp and/or having them get a job. For summer camp the “away” part is really important because it is in those moments when we don’t have anyone else to support us that we learn to support ourselves. Peers and bosses have a great way of cutting through procrastination and excuses because they won’t put up with either.

9. Do your best to avoid engaging emotionally so you don’t end up in a power struggle. Teenagers ALWAYS win power struggles with their parents because they have way more time and energy to devote to them. Most parents work and are preoccupied with other things. Keep in mind it is natural for any person to resist someone else having control over them. If your student feels like they are being controlled then they are going to do their best to fight back even if fighting means being passive or failing a class to show you they are in control.

10. Find things to compliment your child on. Most teenagers love their parents very much and really want to please them. Academics may not be easy for them, and our society places a whole lot of emphasis on grades. This culture of hyper academic emphasis can lead to low self-esteem for those who don’t excel at school. Find a few other avenues for them to succeed and earn recognition from you.

11. You can be a role model by doing things you don’t want to do like cleaning the kitchen and mowing the lawn. Always explain why doing these things is important. Help your child realize that life is going to require them to do things they don’t want to do like homework. Teach them that they can pick their attitude even when they can’t pick anything else.

Believe it or not, many teachers don’t love homework either. Grading assignments is one of their least favorite parts of the job. Teachers often have reasons for assigning the work other than to start a war in your home. For example, writing every night improves a child’s writing skills the same way doing math every night improves math skills. Ultimately teachers want your child to pass. Some will even give up their lunch periods to work with students.

12. If all else fails, hire professional help. Utilizing tutors is one way great students stay on top. Sometimes having the material explained a totally different way makes all the difference to understanding a concept.

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