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The Homework Battle: How to Get Children to Do Homework

By debbie pincus, ms lmhc.

Teen girl with hands on head frustrated by homework

Parents often feel it’s their job to get their kids to do well in school. Naturally, you might get anxious about this responsibility as a parent. You might also get nervous about your kids succeeding in life—and homework often becomes the focus of that concern.

But when parents feel it’s their responsibility to get their kids to achieve, they now need something from their children—they need them to do their homework and be a success. I believe this need puts you in a powerless position as a parent because your child doesn’t have to give you what you want.

The battle about homework becomes a battle over control. Your child starts fighting to have more control over the choices in their life, while you feel that your job as a parent is to be in control of things. So you both fight harder, and it turns into a war in your home.

Over the years, I’ve talked to many parents who are in the trenches with their kids, and I’ve seen firsthand that there are many creative ways kids rebel when it comes to schoolwork. Your child might forget to do their homework, do their homework but not hand it in, do it sloppily or carelessly, or not study properly for their test. These are just a few ways that kids try to hold onto the little control they have.

When this starts happening, parents feel more and more out of control, so they punish, nag, threaten, and argue. Some parents stop trying altogether to get their children to do homework. Or, and this is common, parents will over-function for their kids by doing the work for them.

Now the battle is in full swing: reactivity is heightened as anxiety is elevated—and homework gets lost in the shuffle. The hard truth for parents is that you cannot make your children do anything, let alone homework. But what you can do is to set limits, respect their individual choices, and help motivate them to motivate themselves.

You might be thinking to yourself, “You don’t know my child. I can’t motivate him to do anything.” Many parents tell me that their children are not motivated to do their work. I believe that children are motivated—they just may not be motivated the way you’d like them to be. Keep reading for some concrete tips to help you guide them in their work without having to nag, threaten, or fight with them.

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Also, keep in mind that if you carry more of the worry, fear, disappointments, and concern than your child does about their work, ask yourself, “What’s wrong with this picture, and how did this happen?” Remember, as long as you carry their concerns, they don’t have to.

Stop the Nightly Fights

The way you can stop fighting with your kids over homework every night is to stop fighting with them tonight. Disengage from the dance. Choose some different steps or decide not to dance at all. Let homework stay where it belongs—between the teacher and the student. Stay focused on your job, which is to help your child do their job. Don’t do it for them.

If you feel frustrated, take a break from helping your child with homework. Your blood pressure on the rise is a no-win for everyone. Take five or ten minutes to calm down, and let your child do the same if you feel a storm brewing.

Create Structure Around Homework Time

Set limits around homework time. Here are a few possibilities that I’ve found to be effective with families:

  • Homework is done at the same time each night.
  • Homework is done in a public area of your house.
  • If grades are failing or falling, take away screen time so your child can focus and have more time to concentrate on their work.
  • Make it the rule that weekend activities don’t happen until work is completed. Homework comes first. As James Lehman says, “The weekend doesn’t begin until homework is done.”

Let Your Child Make Their Own Choices

I recommend that your child be free to make their own choices within the parameters you set around schoolwork. You need to back off a bit as a parent. Otherwise, you won’t be helping them with their responsibilities.

If you take too much control over the situation, it will backfire on you by turning into a power struggle. And believe me, you don’t want a power struggle over homework. I’ve seen many kids purposely do poorly just to show their parents who’s in charge. I’ve also seen children who complied to ease their parents’ anxiety, but these same kids never learned to think and make choices for themselves.

Let Your Child Own the Consequences of Their Choices

I’m a big believer in natural consequences when it comes to schoolwork. Within the structure you set up, your child has some choices. They can choose to do their homework or not. And they can choose to do it well and with effort or not. The natural consequences will come from their choices—if they don’t choose to do their work, their grades will drop.

When that happens, you can ask them some honest questions:

“Are you satisfied with how things are going?”

“What do you want to do about your grade situation?”

“How can I be helpful to you?”

Be careful not to be snarky or judgmental. Just ask the question honestly. Show honest concern and try not to show disappointment.

Intervene Without Taking Control

The expectation is that homework is done to the best of your child’s ability. When they stop making an effort, and you see their grades drop, that’s when you invite yourself in. You can say:

“It’s my job to help you do your job better. I’m going to help you set up a plan to help yourself, and I will check in to make sure you’re following it.”

Set up a plan with your child’s input to get them back on their feet. For example, the new rules might be that homework must be done in a public place in your home until they get their grades back up. You and your child might meet with the teacher to discuss disciplinary actions should their grades continue to drop.

In other words, you will help your child get back on track by putting a concrete plan in place. And when you see this change, you can step back out of it. But before that, your child is going to sit in a public space and you’re going to monitor their work.

You’re also checking in more. Depending on your child’s age, you’re making sure that things are checked off before they go out. You’re adding a half-hour of review time for their subjects every day. And then, each day after school, they’re checking with their teacher or going for some extra help.

Remember, this plan is not a punishment—it’s a practical way of helping your child to do their best.

“I Don’t Care about Bad Grades!”

Many parents will say that their kids just don’t care about their grades. My guess is that somewhere inside, they do care. “I don’t care” also becomes part of a power struggle.

In other words, your child is saying, “I’m not going to care because you can’t make me. You don’t own my life.” And they’re right. The truth is, you can’t make them care. Instead, focus on what helps their behavior improve. And focus more on their actions and less on their attitude because it’s the actions that matter the most.

Motivation Comes From Ownership

It’s important to understand that caring and motivation come from ownership. You can help your child be motivated by allowing them to own their life more.

So let them own their disappointment over their grades. Don’t feel it more than they do. Let them choose what they will do or not do about their homework and face the consequences of those choices. Now they will begin to feel ownership, which may lead to caring.

Let them figure out what motivates them, not have them motivated by fear of you. Help guide them, but don’t prevent them from feeling the real-life consequences of bad choices. Think of it this way: it’s better for your child to learn from those consequences at age ten by failing their grade and having to go to summer school than for them to learn at age 25 by losing their job.

When Your Child Has a Learning Disability

I want to note that it’s very important that you check to see that there are no other learning issues around your child’s refusal to do homework. If they’re having difficulty doing the work or are performing below grade-level expectations, they should be tested to rule out any learning disabilities or other concerns.

If there is a learning disability, your child may need more help. For example, some kids need a little more guidance; you may need to sit near your child and help a little more. You can still put structures into place depending on who your child is.

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But be careful. Many times, kids with learning disabilities get way too much help and develop what psychologists call learned helplessness . Be sure you’re not over-functioning for your learning disabled child by doing their work for them or filling in answers when they’re capable of thinking through them themselves.

The Difference Between Guidance and Over-Functioning

Your child needs guidance from you, but understand that guidance does not mean doing their spelling homework for them. Rather, it’s helping them review their words. When you cross the line into over-functioning, you take on your child’s work and put their responsibilities on your shoulders. So you want to guide them by helping them edit their book report themselves or helping them take the time to review before a test. Those can be good ways of guiding your child, but anything more than that is taking too much ownership of their work.

If your child asks for help, you can coach them. Suggest that they speak with their teacher on how to be a good student and teach them those communication skills. In other words, show them how to help themselves. So you should not back off altogether—it’s that middle ground that you’re looking for. That’s why I think it’s essential to set up a structure. And within that structure, you expect your child to do what they have to do to be a good student.

Focus on Your Own Goals

When you start over-focusing on your child’s work, pause and think about your own goals and what do you need to get done to achieve those goals. Model your own persistence and perseverance to your child.

Believe In Your Child

I also tell parents to start believing in their children. Don’t keep looking at your child as a fragile creature who can’t do the work. I think we often come to the table with fear and doubt—we think if we don’t help our kids, they’re just not going to do it.

But as much as you say, “I’m just trying to help you,” what your child hears is, “You’re a failure; I don’t believe you can do it on your own.”

Instead, your message should be, “I know you can do it. And I believe in you enough to let you make your own choices and deal with the consequences.”

Related content: What Can I Do When My Child Refuses to Go to School? “My Child Refuses to Do Homework” — How to Stop the Nightly Struggle Over Schoolwork

For more information on the concept of learned helplessness in psychology and behavior, we recommend the following articles:

Psychology Today: Learned Helplessness

VeryWell Mind: What Is Learned Helplessness and Why Does it Happen?

About Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC

For more than 25 years, Debbie has offered compassionate and effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Debbie is the creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM™ program and is also the author of numerous books for young people on interpersonal relations.

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Frank My daughter Nina just turned 8 (Feb 11). She does not like to do homework one bit. Her teacher gives her homework every day except Friday. She loves Fridays because she doesn't like homework. She always hides her homework under her bed, refuses to do her homework, and in the More morning she tells her teacher "I lost it last night and can't find it!". She feels homework is a waste of time, yes, we all feel that way, but poor Nina needs to learn that homework is important to help you stay smart. She needs to start doing homework. How can I make her 2nd-grade brain know that homework is actually good? Is there a way to make her love, love, LOVE homework? Let me know.

Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. In addition to the tips in More the article above, it may be helpful to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing these particular issues with your cousins, such as their doctor or their teachers. We wish you the best going forward. Take care.

Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach I hear you. Homework can be a challenging, frustrating time in many families even under the best of circumstances, so you are not alone. When kids struggle with a subject, it can be even more difficult to get assignments completed. Although you didn’t indicate that your daughter More has ADHD, you might find some helpful tips in Why School is Hard for Kids with ADHD—and How You Can Help . Author Anna Stewart outlines techniques that can be useful to help make homework more interesting for kids with a variety of learning challenges in this article. You might also consider checking in with your daughter’s teacher, as s/he might have some additional ideas for engaging your daughter in her homework. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.

So, after reading this I get to say…GREAT…You really do not know my child.  We have done 100% of everything listed in this article.  In the end, my son has utterly declared “I DON’T CARE, AND I DON’T NEED SCHOOL”.  We have attempted a “reward” system as well, and that doesn’t work.  He cares about 3 or 4 things.  Nintendo DS, Lego, K’Nex, TV…all of those he has lost over the past year.  Now he reads, ALL the time.  Fine, but that doesn’t get his homework done.  It also doesn’t get anything else he needs to do done.  We’ve done “task boards”, we’ve done “Reward Systems”, we’ve done the “What is on your list to complete”.  EVERYTHING is met with either a full fledged meltdown (think 2 year old…on the floor, kicking and screaming and crying).  His IMMEDIATE response to ANYTHING that may interrupt him is “NO” or worse.  If something doesn’t go his way directly he throws a fit INSTANTLY, even if the response is “Give me a second” it’s NOW OR I’M DESTROYING SOMETHING.  He’s been suspended multiple times for his anger issues, and he’s only 10.  Unfortuantely we have no family history as he was adopted from Russia.  His “formal” diagnosis are ADHD and Anxiety.  I’m thinking there is something much more going on.  BTW: He did have an IQ test and that put him at 145 for Spacial and Geometric items, with a 136 for written and language.  His composite was 139, which puts him in the genius category, but he’s failing across the board…because he refuses to do the work.

Interesting article and comments. Our son (6th grade) was early diagnosed as ADHD and for the first 3 years of elementary school several of his teachers suggested he might require special education. But then the school counseling staff did a workup and determined that his IQ is 161 and from that point forward his classroom antics were largely tolerated as “eccentric”.  He has now moved to middle school (6th grade) and while his classroom participation seems to be satisfactory to all teachers, he has refused to do approximately 65% of his homework so far this school year. We have tried talking with him, reasoning with him, removing screen time, offering cash payments (which he lectures us as being unethical “bribes”), offering trips, offering hobbies and sporting events, and just about anything we can think of. Our other children have all been through the “talented and gifted” programs, but he simply refuses to participate in day-to-day school work. His fall report card was pretty much solid “F” or “O” grades. He may be bored out of his mind, or he may have some other issues. Unfortunately, home schooling is not an option, and neither is one of the $40,000 per year local private schools which may or may not be in a better position to deal with his approach to school.  Do “learning centers” work for kids like this? Paying somebody else to force him to do his homework seems like a coward’s solution but I am nearly at the end of my rope! Thanks..

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport 12yokosuka Many parents struggle with staying calm when their child is acting out and screaming, so you are not alone.  It tends to be effective to set up a structured time for kids to do their homework and study, and they can earn a privilege if they comply and meet More their responsibilities.  What this might look like for your daughter is that if she studies, she can earn her phone that day.  If she refuses, and chooses to argue or scream at you instead, then she doesn’t earn her phone that day and has another chance the next day.  You can read more about this in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/end-the-nightly-homework-struggle-5-homework-strategies-that-work-for-kids/.  If you are also looking for resources to help you stay calm, I encourage you to check out our articles, blogs, and other resources on https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/parenting-strategies-techniques/calm-parenting/.  Please let us know if you have any additional questions.  Take care.

Scott carcione 

I’m sorry to hear about the challenges you are experiencing with your

son.I also hear the different

approaches you and your ex are taking toward parenting your son.While it would be ideal if you were able to

find common ground, and present a consistent, united response to your son’s

choices, in the end, you can only https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-after-divorce-9-ways-to-parent-on-your-own-terms/.At

this point, it might be useful to meet with the school to discuss how you can

work together to hold your son accountable for his actions, such as receiving a

poor grade if he refuses to do his work.Janet Lehman discusses this more in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/when-your-child-has-problems-at-school-6-tips-for-parents/.Take care.

It can be so challenging when your child is acting out at school, yet does

not act that way at home.One strategy I

recommend is talking with your son at home about his behavior at school.During this conversation, I encourage you to

address his choices, and come up with a specific plan for what he can do differently

to follow the rules.I also recommend

working with his teachers, and discussing how you can assist them in helping

your son to follow the rules.You might

find additional useful tips in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/acting-out-in-school-when-your-child-is-the-class-troublemaker/.Please be sure to write back and let us know

how things are going for you and your son.Take care.

I hear you.It can be so challenging

when your young child is having outbursts like this.A lot of young children tend to act out and

have tantrums when they are experiencing a big transition, such as starting a

new school or adjusting to having a younger sibling, so you are not alone.Something that can be helpful is to set up

clear structure and expectations around homework, as Janet Lehman points out in

https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-refuses-to-do-homework-heres-how-to-stop-the-struggle/.I also encourage you to set aside some time

for you to have https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/attention-seeking-behavior-in-young-children-dos-and-donts-for-parents/ with your daughter as well.Please be sure to write back and let us know

how things are going for you and your family.Take care.

JoJoSuma I am having the exact same problem with my 9 year old son. His grades are quickly falling and I have no idea why or where to begin with helping him turn things around. When he applies himself he receives score of 80% or higher, and when he doesn't it clearly shows and he receives failing scores. He, too, says that he doesn't do or want to do the work because it is boring, or that he "Forgot" or "lost it". He has started to become a disruption to the class and at this rate I am afraid that he will have to repeat 5th grade. I am also a single parent so my frustration is at an all time high. You are not alone and I wish you and your family the best.

Thank you so much for these tips RebeccaW_ParentalSupport because I SERIOUSLY had nowhere to turn and no clue where to begin. I have cried many nights feeling like I was losing control. I will try your tips and see where things go from here.

It’s not uncommon

for kids to avoid doing homework, chores or other similar tasks.  After

all, homework can be boring or difficult, and most people (both kids and adults

alike) tend to prefer activities which are enjoyable or fun.  This does

not mean that you cannot address this with your daughter, though. 

Something which can be helpful for many families is to set up a structured

homework time, and to require that your daughter complete her homework in order

to earn a privilege later on that evening.  You can read about this, and

other tips, in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/end-the-nightly-homework-struggle-5-homework-strategies-that-work-for-kids/. 

Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and

your daughter.  Take care.

Thestruggleisreal I'm just now signing up for these articles, I'm struggling with my 12 year and school work, she just doesn't want to do it, she has no care I'm world to do, she is driving me crazy over not doing, I hate to see her More fail, but I don't know what to do


I can hear how much your

daughter’s education means to you, and the additional difficulties you are

facing as a result of her learning disabilities.  You make a great point

that you cannot force her to do her work, or get additional help, and I also

understand your concern that getting her teachers to “make” her do these things

at school might create more conflict there as well.  As James Lehman

points out in his article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/stop-the-blame-game-how-to-teach-your-child-to-stop-making-excuses-and-start-taking-responsibility/, lowering your expectations for your daughter due to her

diagnosis is probably not going to be effective either.  Instead, what you

might try is involving her in the https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/, and asking her what she thinks she needs, and what she will do

differently, to meet classroom expectations.  Please be sure to write back

and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

tvllpit Very effective to  kids age of 5, 7, and 11 years old. Thank you for sharing your idea.

Thank you for

your question.  You are correct that we recommend setting up a structured

time for kids to do homework, yet not getting into a power struggle with them

if they refuse to do their work during that time.  It could be useful to

talk with your 11 year old about what makes it difficult to follow through with

doing homework at that time, and perhaps experimenting with doing homework at

another time to see if that works more effectively.  In the end, though,

if your child is simply refusing to do the work, then we recommend giving a

consequence and avoiding a power struggle.  Megan Devine details this

process more in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/end-the-nightly-homework-struggle-5-homework-strategies-that-work-for-kids/. 

Please let us know if you have any additional questions.  Take care.

jovi916 I'm a mother to a 10 year old 5th grader. Since 3rd grade I've been struggling with homework. That first year, I thought it was just lack of consistency since my children go between mine and dad's house. I tried setting some sort of system up with More the teacher to get back on track, but the teacher said it was the child's responsibility to get the hw done. This year has been esp. Difficult. He stopped doing hw, got an F, so I got on him. He stared turning half done work, but same grades so I still got on him. Grades went up, I loosened up, then he stopped with in school work. Now it's back to not turning anything in, even big projects and presentations. He had never really been allowed to watch tv, but now it's a definite no, I took his Legos away, took him out of sports. Nothing is working. He's basically sitting at the table every night, and all weekend long in order to get caught up with missing assignments. I'm worried, and next year he'll be in middle school. I try setting an example by studying in front of him. My daughter just does her homework and gets good grades. Idk what to do.

I can hear your concern. Academic achievement is important

to most parents and when your children seem to be struggling to complete their

work and get good grades, it can be distressing. Ultimately, your childrens’

school work and grades are their responsibility. You shouldn’t have to quit

your own studies in order to help them improve theirs. The above article gives

some great tips for helping motivate your children to complete their homework.

We do have a couple other articles you may also find useful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/10-ways-to-motivate-your-child-to-do-better-in-school/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/sinking-fast-at-school-how-to-help-your-child-stay-afloat/. We appreciate you

writing in and hope you find the information useful. Take care.

RNM I have the exact same issues with my 8 year old. It makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong. He's a smart kid, he just doesn't seem to care to do his homework let alone if he gets a bad grade as a result. He hates reading, but does More very well in spelling and science. Homework is an issue nightly and the teacher pulled me aside today to tell me again how much he talks in class and that now he isn't writing down his assignments and is missing 3 assignments this week. SMH, I don't know what to do anymore other than to coach him (some more) and take away basketball if he doesn't do his homework.

What?  "Let homework stay where it belongs—between the teacher and the student. Refuse to get pulled in by the school.."  I do not see the logic or benefit of this advice.  Homework, by definition, is the responsibility of the student and parent (NOT the teacher).  The teacher does not live at the student's home or run the house.  

In my opinion, the lack of parental involvement with academics often causes the low student performance evident across the U.S.  I do not agree with advocating for even LESS parental involvement.

I completely agree with you. Parental, or adult, engagement at home can be a deal-maker/breaker when it comes to student performance. I subscribe to theories that differ from the author's.

First, if an adult is involved with the child and his activities, then the child will commonly react with "hey, somebody cares about me" leading to an increased sense of self-worth. A sense of caring about one's-self leads to caring about grades and other socially acceptable behaviors (Maslow).

Secondly, I am a FIRM believer in the techniques of behavior modification through positive reinforcement (Karen Pryor). It's up to an invested adult to determine what motivates the student and use those motivators to shape and reinforce desirable behavior such as daily homework completion. A classroom teacher has too many students and too little time to apply this theory.

Letting a child sink or swim by himself is a bad idea. Children have only one childhood; there are no do-overs.

And yes, children are work.

Many experience similar feelings of being at fault when

their child fails, so, you’re not alone. Truth of the matter is, allowing your

child to experience natural consequences of their actions by allowing them to

fail gives them the opportunity to look at themselves and change their

behavior.  We have a couple articles I think you may find helpful: When You Should Let Your Child Fail: The Benefits of Natural Consequences & 5 Natural Consequences You Should Let Your Child Face . Good luck to you and

your family moving forward. Take care.

hao hao It is so true, we can't control our children's home. It is their responsibility. But they don't care it. What can we do it?


How great it is that you want to help your brother be more

productive with his homework. He’s lucky to have a sibling who cares about him

and wants him to be successful. Because we are a website aimed at helping

parents develop better ways of managing acting out behavior, we are limited in

the advice we can offer you as his sibling. There is a website that may be able

to offer you some suggestions. http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/

is a website aimed at helping teens and young adults figure out ways of dealing

with challenges they may be facing in their lives. They offer several ways of

getting support, such as by e-mail or text, through an online forum and chat,

and also a call in helpline. You can check out what they have to offer at http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/. Good luck

to you and your family moving forward. Take care.

Kathleenann indusreepradeep

Thank you so much for your humble support....

It sounds like you have done a lot

of work to try to help your daughter achieve her educational goals, and it’s

normal to feel frustrated when she does not seem to be putting in the same

amount of effort.  It can be useful to keep your focus on whether your

daughter is doing her work, and to keep that separate from whether she “cares”

about doing her work.  Ultimately, it is up to your daughter to do her

work, regardless of how she appears to feel about it.  To that end, we

recommend working with the various local supports you have in place, such as

her therapists and others on her IEP team, to talk about what could be useful

to motivate your daughter to do her school work.  Because individuals with

autism can vary greatly with their abilities, it’s going to be more effective

to work closely with the professionals who are familiar with your daughter’s

strengths and level of functioning in order to develop a plan to address this

issue.  Thank you so much for writing in; we wish you and your daughter

all the best as you continue to address her difficulties with school. 

is there a blog for parents that went to Therapeutic boarding schooling for their adolescent?

Responses to questions posted on EmpoweringParents.com are not intended to replace qualified medical or mental health assessments. We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline.

We value your opinions and encourage you to add your comments to this discussion. We ask that you refrain from discussing topics of a political or religious nature. Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to respond to every question posted on our website.

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How to Get Your Child to Do What You Ask the First Time

Stephanie Rausser / Getty Images

Much to the universal dismay of moms and dads, children often ignore requests and directions from their parents. Sometimes kids don't hear what's being communicated and other times they forget your instructions. Additionally, they might purposefully ignore what they hear the first time. They do this because they don't want to oblige, are too distracted to focus on your request, are waging a form of protest, or are are attempting to continue a desired behavior.

While this listening issue may sort itself out as a child matures, there are steps you can take to set expectations for responsiveness and begin to curb this behavior. This starts with making some adjustments in how you ask your child to do what you say.

Repeating requests over and over— get up and brush your teeth, start your homework, clean up your room —is an energy burner and source of great frustration for many parents. In many cases, parents fall into a pattern of always making several requests of a child.

You might tell your child to do something, then tell them again 10 minutes later, and again 30 minutes later, only realizing at that point that they still haven't done what you asked. When you have to ask your child to do something for what seems like the umpteenth time, frustration builds up and your reaction is often not a calm one. This is how a simple request becomes a source of tension and conflict.

How to Get Your Child to Comply

Before you get too angry, it's important to note that your child may not be ignoring you on purpose. They really might not have heard you or have forgotten, as kid's working memory is not as efficient as you might expect. Also, they may fully intend to do what you're asking but just play to do it later. But there are a variety of strategies you can use to get your child to do what you ask the first time.

Get Their Attention

Science has proven that when children become immersed in what they are doing, they don't pay attention to what is going on around them. In fact, the research points out that kids under the age of 14 lack "peripheral awareness," which means that if your child is focused on a toy, book, game, or TV show when you ask them to do something, their brain is tuned into that activity and not much more.

That means that, at the very least, you must make eye contact when you request that your child do something. It works best if you can go up to them, touch their arm or rest a hand on their shoulder, and get down to eye level. Encourage them to make eye contact with you in return and repeat what you have just asked them to do. That way you both know that the request was made and heard.

If you are busy in another room, ask your child to come to you before you make your request.

Change Your Approach

If you have approached your child as above and it still takes repeated nagging or begging on your part to get them to do as you say, then you may need a new game plan. Many children have developed several strategies to put things off as long as possible. Kids don’t quite understand the consequences of not doing undesirable tasks and are more motivated by what brings them joy, rather than what has to get done.

The fact of the matter is that most adults wouldn't categorize these activities as fun either. So, children learn to distract parents by whining, bringing up something else to do at that moment, starting an argument, or just downright ignoring the request. To curb your child from stalling or ignoring you, you will need to put a little bit more time and attention in the way you approach the situation.

Breaking a child's tendency to ignore you or resist cooperating when you say something the first time will take time and some practice on your part. However, the results will be less frustration, anger, and stress for you, and hopefully more respect, compliance, and self-discipline from your child.

It's best to start practicing these steps with a request that does not require you to leave the house soon afterward. At the beginning of the exercise, there may be tantrums and lengthy explanations, which all take some considerable time.

Set a Time Frame

Decide in your own mind what you want the child to do and the time frame you will accept for their compliance (immediately, within 15 minutes, etc.) Check in with yourself about the reason behind your choices and whether that actually matches your request.

Be Specific

Don't phrase your request as a question. Tell them specifically what you want them to do in a direct way. For example, rather than asking, "Can you please go brush your teeth now?" say, "Please go brush your teeth right now so you can get to bed on time."

Watch for Compliance

It's easy to give an instruction and pivot back to what you were doing beforehand. At the beginning of this practice, avoid doing so. Check immediately to see if what you requested was done. That way, your child has accountability and knows you are serious about them complying with the request.

Check for Understanding

If they don't begin doing what you asked or don't complete the task, calmly ask them "What did I ask you to do?" Make sure the child is clear about what is expected. If they can correctly tell you, say, "That's good, now please get to it."

Praise Success

If your child does what you asked, tell them what a good job they did and how much you appreciate them taking action. It's easy to forget to do this, but remembering to reinforce the compliance with praise can go a long way in reinforcing this behavior.

Give Fair Warning

If they don't do what you asked after the first or second request, then it's time to explain why you are asking them to do that specific task and what the consequences are if they don't comply. Just repeating “because I said so” is not effective and may lead to other issues with compliance.

If possible, show your child the actual impact of their behavior so that they know that your requests are not arbitrary. An example of this is to let your child know that if they don't do something you have requested, it affects others.

For example: “Please go brush your teeth right now. Bedtime is in 15 minutes. If you don't brush your teeth right now, there won't be any time left to read a story tonight. Daddy really looks forward to reading with you before bed and I know you enjoy reading with him, too."

Be Consistent and Follow Through

If your reasonable request is followed up by more defiance and temper tantrums, then it is time to follow through with the consequence you have set. Be firm and keep at it. Consistency with this step is key to letting your child know that you are serious when you make a request the first time.

These steps may seem ineffective the first several times you employ them but stick with it. Eventually, both of you will get used to the method. You will get better at phrasing your requests firmly and purposefully the first time, and your child will come to understand that you do not ask arbitrary or unreasonable requests of them.

Waterman AH, Atkinson AL, Aslam SS, Holmes J, Jaroslawska A, Allen RJ. Do actions speak louder than words? Examining children's ability to follow instructions .  Mem Cognit . 2017;45(6):877-890. doi:10.3758/s13421-017-0702-7

Remington A, Cartwright-Finch U, Lavie N. I can see clearly now: the effects of age and perceptual load on inattentional blindness .  Front Hum Neurosci . 2014;8. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00229

American Academy of Pediatrics. What's the best way to discipline my child? Reviewed November 5, 2018.

Remington A, Cartwright-Finch U, Lavie N. I can see clearly now: the effects of age and perceptual load on inattentional blindness .  Frontiers in Human Neuroscience . 2014;8.

By Kimberly L. Keith, M.Ed, LPC Kimberly L. Keith, M.Ed., LPC, is a counselor, parent educator, and advocate for children and families in the court and community.  

Jeffrey Bernstein Ph.D.

Ten Homework Motivation Strategies for Children and Teens

Use these 10 strategies to end the homework wars..

Posted September 6, 2015 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

When it comes to homework, parents get burnt out hearing these hollow and suspicious words: "I did it at school," "They didn't give homework today," "It hardly counts for my grade," "My teacher never looks at my homework anyway," "That assignment was optional." As parents, hearing these words is enough to drive you crazy.

As I write in my book, 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child , parents must not let their emotions get the best of them when their kids are not getting homework done. The strategies below are for helping your child or teen get unstuck:

  • Nix the nagging! Pestering creates an adversarial, shaming dynamic that backfires. Instead, try my Calm, Firm, and Non-Controlling approach. Gently empower your child or teen by supportively saying, "I see that you are frustrated. Let's think of ways to help you get back on track with your homework/schoolwork."
  • Encourage effort over perfection. Be mindful that kids tend to get intimidated when they have a hard time understanding material. They may get into negative self-talk like, "I can't do this." Even if they're truly thinking this way, parents may instead hear comments like, "I hate this." or "This is stupid." Remind your child or teen that doing his best effort is better than not doing it at all.
  • Prioritize. Coach and encourage that the order that homework is done based on urgency, complexity, and workload. At the same time, realize that some students do better by starting with easier tasks and that this can help spark them to tackle more demanding assignments.
  • Break it down. Reinforce breaking up homework time into manageable chunks and encourage taking regular breaks. Encourage moving around and walking away for a bit. Remind that an apple really does provide the same effect, and is healthier than an energy drink.
  • Think "15 minutes of pain." Have the student set a timer for only 15 minutes. Keep it lighthearted and explain that even if it "hurts" doing the work, she can stop after 15 minutes. Like most things in life, once we push ourselves and get going, it's not so bad.
  • Don't be consequence ravenous. Imposing consequences for homework not being done can backfire with defiant behavior. If you use consequences, don't present them with yelling. Keep them reasonable and ask the student to help you be able to move towards rewards (don't go overboard) and minimize consequences. Remember that real, natural consequences are the best motivators.
  • Encourage connection. Encourage the student to make or re-establish a connection with his teacher. I have seen hundreds of kids "shoot themselves in the foot" with incomplete homework if they don't have a decent relationship with their teacher.
  • Change up the homework/study surroundings. Try putting an inspirational poster by the desk, moving to a different room, or silencing the cell phone. New changes can create more changes.
  • Use those study halls. Encourage the use of them as much as possible. Some kids lose sight of that more done at school, means less to do at home.
  • Allow for some fun. Notice if your student is racing through the homework just to have fun. Fun time like, TV, phone time, or surfing the web, is welcome, but make sure you put limits on it.

Jeffrey Bernstein Ph.D.

Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D. , is a psychologist and the author of seven books, including 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child.

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How to Get Your Kids to Do Their Homework

Last Updated: May 10, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Klare Heston, LCSW and by wikiHow staff writer, Sophia Latorre . Klare Heston is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker based in Cleveland, Ohio. With experience in academic counseling and clinical supervision, Klare received her Master of Social Work from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983. She also holds a 2-Year Post-Graduate Certificate from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, as well as certification in Family Therapy, Supervision, Mediation, and Trauma Recovery and Treatment (EMDR). This article has been viewed 465,732 times.

Parents around the world would love the magic formula to encourage kids to do their homework. Alas, it's not as simple as waving a wand, but there are some methods for encouraging your kids to develop and stick to a regular homework routine. For some parents, effective encouragement will also be about changing your own approach to homework enforcement. Don't worry, it's not hard, it's just about taking a moment to work it through. Create a homework space and schedule, establish clear expectations, rewards, and consequences, and approach homework positively.

Creating a Homework Space and Schedule

Step 1 Pick a quiet spot.

  • For example, if your kids do their homework at the dinner table, unpack the box to give them access to their supplies when it’s time to do homework. Pack up the box and move it off the table when they’re finished.

Get Your Kids to Do Their Homework Step 5

  • Allow your kids to have a say in creating the schedule. If they feel like their opinions have been heard and considered, they’re more likely to stick to the plan.
  • Agree on homework-free times, such as Friday nights or one weekend day, and allow them to plan how they use this free time.

Step 2 Allow your children to take a break, if needed.

Establishing Expectations, Rewards, and Consequences

Step 1 Establish clear expectations.

  • Occasional rewards for a special project done really well can be a great boost but regular material rewards are best avoided.
  • When your child does their homework, tell them that you are really proud of them for being organized, timely, proactive, etc. It is important to define the exact reason why you are proud so that they know what to keep up.

Step 3 Avoid using bribes.

  • Keep your message simple, reminding your kids what you have agreed upon together when discussing how they'd approach homework and expressing both disappointment and a hope to see things return to normal the next day.

Step 5 Make homework your children’s responsibility, rather than your own.

  • For example, if your child forgets their homework or books at school, don’t spend hours tracking down a maintenance worker to let you into the building so you can retrieve their forgotten items. If they can find a way to get them, great, and if not, they’ll have to suffer the consequences.

Step 6 Let the kids deal with the consequences of not doing their homework.

  • Naturally, if you have a child with learning or other disabilities, you may need to adjust this hands-off approach. Don't be afraid to seek support from professional people skilled in your child's particular disability; they may be able to provide you with additional strategies.

Approaching Homework Positively

Step 1 Make peace with the reality that most kids don't like doing homework.

  • You should still keep a positive attitude toward homework. Don’t agree with your kid when they say, “Homework sucks. I wish I didn’t have to do it.” Instead, reply with something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but once you finish your homework you can invite a friend over.”

Step 2 Find a new name for homework.

  • For example, if your child wants to be a marine biologist, tell them that they’ll need good grades in school to get into a college where they can earn a degree in biology, zoology, or ecology.
  • For example, tell your would-be actor that they won’t be able to memorize their lines if they’re not a stellar reader. Encourage them to read and memorize parts of their textbook for practice.

Step 4 Turn homework into a game.

Altering Your Own Involvement

Step 1 Be a facilitator rather than a force to be reckoned with.

Expert Q&A

Klare Heston, LCSW

  • When the teacher asks that you have a part in your child's homework, do it! Working with your child's teacher will show your child that authority figures at school and home or on the same team. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Encourage professional presentation and neatness. If they're producing messy homework, try to catch them in the process and encourage a neater effort. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Keep up to date with your child's school life. Talk with their teacher regularly to ensure you know the purpose of your child's assignments and understand the rules in class. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://sparksofgenius.wordpress.com/2007/05/14/train-your-kids-to-do-homework-without-arguing/
  • ↑ http://sparksofgenius.wordpress.com/2007/05/14/train-your-kids-to-do-homework-without-arguing/
  • ↑ https://fosteringperspectives.org/fp_vol1no1/articles_vol1no1/ignoring_effective_way.htm
  • ↑ https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-homework-battle-how-to-get-children-to-do-homework/
  • ↑ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100819173846.htm
  • ↑ http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/homework/part_pg2.html#2

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Top 10 Homework Tips

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Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.

Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!

Here are some tips to guide the way:

  • Know the teachers — and what they're looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child's teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
  • Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
  • Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
  • Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there's an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
  • Make sure kids do their own work. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it's a kid's job to do the learning.
  • Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
  • Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
  • Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
  • If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.

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Helping Kids with Homework: 11 Easy & Do-Able Tips for Parents

Tips for Smart Parenting 09/21/2021 11 minute read

Homework is the bane of every student, as it is for the parents.

As a matter of fact, homework is not even necessary in the first place.

Before you react, there are countless studies to validate this claim. But even if we go on a hard-fought, well-thought, debate on whether homework is important or not, homework is here to stay. 

That said, helping kids with their take-home assignments is a duty we have to fulfill. But how exactly do we do it?

Below are actionable parenting tips to help your kids with their homework without doing it for them!

You might be interested:  How to Support Kids Learning Science and Why it Matters?

Parenting Tips on How to Do Homework with Kids

We used to believe that parental availability and support while kids do their assignments is key for their class success. "The more involved parents are, the better off they would be," so to speak. 

But that is a misconception and sometimes may even be counterproductive. As Kathleen Reilly said:

“When parents are overly immersed in homework, they deny kids the chance to become more independent and confident. Worse, it can breed anxiety along the way.” 

Helping kids with homework means that you offer your support but never treat the assignment like it's your responsibility. It's challenging, but kids need to do homework on their own because the assignments deal with lessons already discussed in class. Plus, answering homework by themselves is a good way to teach independent learning .

With that in mind, here are the homework tips for parents:

1. Work Out a Working Routine

Believe it or not, children love routines because they create structure .

This helps children feel more secure because they know what to do and what's expected of them.

Face it, nobody likes homeworks. But make it easier for your kids to do their's by doing routines such as below:

What time should they start? Set a definite time when they should do their homeworks. Will it be right after they arrive from school? Should they play for an hour first? Would they do it after shower time or after dinner?

Where is their homework place? The place they choose is likely the area they feel most comfy working in. That element adds extra help when doing homework. Find a place and stick with it.

If you have multiple kids, distinct routines for each are fine. What matters is that you enforce discipline and commitment to the schedule. Write the details on a sheet of paper and post their routines on the wall!

2. Make a Homework Plan

The routine simply tackles the when and where kids do their assignments. A homework plan focuses on how they do it. 

Doing homework needs to be systematic , both for you and the child. Approach homework from a systematic point of view and you save yourselves time and whine.

The example below is the system I found most suited for my children. You can follow it or fashion your own process, whichever works best. Here's what my kids do:

Read  the directions of the homework, twice.

Determine the goal and the steps needed to achieve it.

Divide the assignment into several chunks (if logically possible).

Set time limits for each portion and mark each as complete when finished.

Helping kids with homework is not about giving them all the answers. It's about  strategizing on how to finish the homework effectively and efficiently.

3. Monitor, Don't Correct

Let's get back to basics .

What is the purpose of homework?

Homework allows teachers to gauge what the students understood in class. That said, mistakes are welcomed.

But since most parents dread the idea of making mistakes, they try to  correct each flaw too often all for a perfect remark.

Word of advice: Teachers are well-aware of how your kids perform in class, so they know the truth.

My point is, remove the notion of absolute perfection from your kids.

It's okay to make mistakes, as long as they learn how to correct them on their own ! There should be no pressure on them to avoid mistakes at all costs. Encourage an atmosphere of growth. But, make it clear to your kids they should resolve their mistakes the next time around, once they understand the correct answer.

Do this instead:

Allow your kids to ask you up to 3 questions on their homework. But, be stingy on answering their questions right away.

When they ask, reply to them something like "I can help you once I finish my chores" or "Read it again, I'll be back in a sec."

You might not realize it, but this is one subtle way to help kids with homework. When you delay your aid, you gently force them to reread the directions and rework the problem on their own.

Monitor and ask them probing questions on the reason behind their homework answers.

4. Set an Example to Imitate

Helping kids how to do homework can also mean modeling the behavior to them. This is a parenting hack that most parents fail to practice.

It can be a good motivating factor for the kids if you do chores like budgeting or computing household expenses at the same time they do their assignments.

This is one indirect way to teach kids how to do homework. Set a good example and you'll find them following your footsteps.

5. Don't Sit Beside Them

Sitting and closely monitoring your kids as they answer homework is not at all helpful.

Behind the scenes, it sends a message to their brains that you might think they can't do the work without direct supervision.

Would you like that? Of course not!

Helping kids with their homework should also tap into the emotional aspect of learning. Show them that you trust their brains by letting them do their assignment on their own. Otherwise, you shatter their self-confidence leading to feelings of inferiority.

Here are my suggestions:

Stay nearby, do chores, balance your checks, wash dishes. Basically, just be there for them, without literally sitting beside them.

6. Establish the No-Nonsense Responsibility

Make the duties of each member in the family clear.

Of course, both you and your partner have work responsibilities, and so do the kids! They're expected to be diligent with their responsibilities:

Attend classes

Work with their teachers

And of course... do their homeworks

Once they agreed to a working routine and a homework plan , then there is no turning back. Tell them to buckle their seats until they finish their tasks. Discipline matters just as much as intellect and system when dealing with homework.

7. Teach Them Time Management 

Time management is the one of the most important tools for productivity.

Once your kids learn the benefits of being in control of their time, they position themselves to a life of success. Time management is not only relevant for homework. Instilling this behavior is a must from the get-go.

One tip is using an old analog wall clock and coloring in the hour when they should do answer their homework. Once the short arm reaches it, teach them to take initiative to do their tasks.

Help them in sorting the time out too, especially, if there are multiple homework in one seating.

8. Positive Reinforcement is a Great Hack

They say the best way to man's heart is through their stomach. Well, the best way to a child's heart is through snacks and treats . (I made that up)

Instead of threatening them to limit their TV watching time or call their teachers, why not compensate their efforts with some good ol' sweets? 

Reinforcing their diligence pushes them more to do it. Scare tactics are not as good as rewards to encourage a behavior. Although, do the positive reinforcement practice sparingly.  

Appreciating their efforts is another way to help kids with homework as this motivates them. You can do this by:

Posting their aced assignments or exams

Displaying their art projects on the fridge

It showcases how much you value their efforts and how proud you are of them.

9. Walk Away Once the Whine Fest Starts

How does walking away help kids on how to do homework? Well, it doesn't. It's more for your benefit than them.

Having a rough day at work is physically and mentally exhausting . Add another layer of whining because kids don't want to do their assignments, and you enter a whole new level of stress .

If they keep on complaining, check their homework progress.

If they are only being grumpy even when they can do it, then try to motivate them. Tell them that the sooner they finish, the more time they'd have to watch their favorite TV shows .

If the homework is indeed truly difficult, then lend them a hand.

Ask their teacher about it, especially if the homework is beyond the kid's level of understanding. Inquire if it's appropriate to give kids complex problems. Their teachers would love to hear feedback from parents, on top of that, to aid the pupils with their homework!

10. Let Them Take the Lead

Their Homework is not only a test of one's learning but also of a kid's sense of responsibility .

Their answers should be theirs and they must own up if they fail to do it. If they left their homework at home, then parents shouldn't bail their kids out by bringing their assignments to class.

Matt Vaccaro, a first-grade teacher, says that he makes students do their assignment during recess if they forget to do it at home.

According to him "Once she starts missing playtime, she gets the message."

This seemingly harsh yet rightful way to deal with their negligence actually motivates the kids to be responsible in the succeeding homework. 

Helping them how to do homework is as necessary as teaching them to be responsible for it.

11. Keep Your Composure and Carry On

Homework meltdowns do occur, so be ready!

These are children's ways of saying they're overwhelmed . And sometimes these kids are indeed struggling so bad. 

Parents, please keep your composure. Breathe and stay calm . You risk compromising their progress if you too burst out in frustration. Remember that homework is an opportunity to cultivate better parent-child relationships .

Here are ways to address homework meltdowns:

A simple hug might do

Speak words of affirmation like "we'll figure it out"

Let them vent out to you while you listen calmly

Sometimes, kids just need to blow off some steam. Catering to these needs are subtle ways of helping kids with homework. See the mood change after they've burst the bubble.

If ever you did lash out (although we hope not). Apologize immediately and tell your child that you both need a timeout for 10 minutes. They can play for within that period and resume working on the homework once the time is up.

Helping kids with homework is a dual purpose. You make homework accomplishment more manageable for them and you make life easier for you. Consider the above homework tips next time your kids have assignments.

The How-to-do-Homework Hack!

Some kids might still see learning as a chore, and that's okay. I mean, who likes to wake up early and be in class when they can play at home all day?

Making the most out of their curiosity helps transform their perception of learning — from a tedious and boring chore to a fun and interactive learning experience. We believe that the way to encourage kids to do their homework is by making them see the fun in learning.

The best way to do this is using educational toys! 

The STEMscope portable microscope is a good tool to cultivate your child's curiosity. This handheld science gadget is an all-around partner for your kid's best learning! 

Once they activate their curiosity, they develop the insatiable desire to learn, after that, they will see homework as fun learning opportunity!

Check out our complete catalog of science toys to find the best toy for your kid!

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How to help your child get motivated in school.

Strategies you can use to help kids work up to their potential

Writer: Danielle Cohen

Clinical Experts: Laura Phillips, PsyD, ABPdN , Ken Schuster, PsyD , Kristin Carothers, PhD

What You'll Learn

  • Why do some kids have trouble getting motivated in school?
  • How can parents help their children try harder in school?

It’s common for kids to lack motivation in school. Sometimes, this happens because the child has ADHD, anxiety, social challenges, or a learning disability. But other times, kids without a diagnosable problem still have trouble living up to their potential in school. Here are a few ways that parents can encourage kids to put in more effort at school.

Start by showing kids that you care about their schoolwork. Check in with them about how classes are going. Let them know that you’re there if they need homework help. Ask what they’re learning and what they like (and don’t like) about the assignments. With older kids, be sure to give them space, too. If they sense that you’re pressuring them, they might end up feeling resentful and less motivated.

Using positive reinforcement helps. You don’t need to give kids big rewards, but even small ones like a high five or a few extra minutes of screen time can make a difference. It’s also important to praise effort, not results. For example, praise your child for finishing a tough assignment or taking a class that might be hard. Nobody gets top grades all the time, so make sure your child knows you don’t expect perfection.

You can also bring in reinforcements if schoolwork is becoming a source of conflict for you and your child. You could hire an older student at your child’s school or a nearby college to help monitor homework and ease stress on the family. Talking to your child’s teacher can also give you insight into their behavior and help you work as a team to encourage them.

Finally, be sure to keep tabs on your own feelings. If you’re getting very frustrated or angry about your child’s school performance, a therapist or support group can help.

If you have a child who is struggling in school and doesn’t seem to be motivated to make an effort, the first thing you want to do is explore whether there is some obstacle getting in his way. Learning issues , social challenges, attention or emotional problems can all cause kids to disengage academically.

But not all kids who are underperforming in school—clearly not living up to their potential—have a diagnosable problem . And there are a number of things parents can do to help motivate kids to try harder.

Get involved

As a parent, your presence in the academic life of your child is crucial to their commitment to work. Do homework with them, and let them know that you’re available to answer questions. Get in the habit of asking them about what they learned in school, and generally engage them academically. By demonstrating your interest in your child’s school life, you’re showing them school can be exciting and interesting. This is especially effective with young kids who tend to be excited about whatever you’re excited about. Teenagers can bristle if they feel you are asking too many questions, so make sure you are sharing the details of your day, too. A conversation is always better than an interrogation.

Likewise, it’s important to stay involved but give older kids a little more space. If you’re on top of your kid all the time about homework, they may develop resistance and be less motivated to work—not to mention the strain it will put on your relationship.

Use reinforcement

Many parents are nervous about rewarding kids for good work , and it’s true that tangible rewards can turn into a slippery slope. But there are ways to use extrinsic motivation that will eventually be internalized by your kid. “Kids respond really well to social reinforcers like praises, hugs, high fives, and those kinds of things,” says Laura Phillips , PsyD, a neuropsychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “Then they start to achieve because it feels good for them.”

Ken Schuster , PsyD, a neuropsychologist at the Child Mind Institute, encourages parents to use rewarding activities that would have probably occurred either way but placing them after a set amount of time doing homework. He suggests treats that are easy to provide but that your child will enjoy, such as going for ice cream or sharing a candy bar. He also recommends breaking work up into chunks and using small breaks as rewards for getting through each chunk.

Reward effort rather than outcome

The message you want to send is that your respect hard work. Praising kids for following through when things get difficult, for making a sustained effort, and for trying things they’re not sure they can do successfully can all help teach them the pleasure of pushing themselves. Praise for good grades that come easily can make kids feel they shouldn’t have to exert themselves.

Help them see the big picture

For older kids who have developed an understanding of delayed gratification, sometimes simple reminders of their long-term goals can help push them. It can help many high school seniors who slack off after getting into college to remind them that they could lose their acceptance if their grades drop too much, or they might not be prepared for college courses. “Linking school up with their long-term goals can make the work feel more personally fulfilling,” explains Dr. Phillips.

Let them make mistakes

No one can get A’s on every test or perfect score on every assignment. While kids need encouragement, and it’s healthy to push them to try their best, know that setbacks are natural . Sometimes the only way kids learn how to properly prepare for school is by finding out what happens when they’re unprepared.

Get outside help

One way to take a little tension away from your relationship with your child is to find an older student (either at their school or a nearby college) to help them out with work. Most will charge pretty low rates, and the fact that they’re closer to your kid’s age may make it more likely they’ll listen to what they say.

“Homework was a source of conflict for us,” says Elizabeth, whose son Alex has ADHD . Elizabeth hired a few Barnard students to help Alex do his homework on certain nights, she recalls. “He behaved a lot better with them, and it was money well spent for me because I wasn’t fighting, and I wasn’t stressed out.”

Make the teacher your ally

Another one of the most important things you can do for your child is to work with their teacher. The teacher might have additional insight about how to motivate your child or what they might be struggling with. Likewise, you can share any strategies or information that you have.

When her son was in lower school and only had one teacher, Elizabeth would call his teacher before the first day, introducing herself and alerting the teacher that her son had ADHD and that he found it hard to focus. She would give the teacher little tips that she had found were useful with Alex: Writing multi-step directions on the board, tapping him on the shoulder while walking past to make sure he was paying attention and other small tweaks that would be useful to any young child but are especially essential to one with ADHD.

“Make sure that both school and home are of one accord,” stresses Kristin Carothers, PhD, a clinical psychologist. Dr. Carothers often sets up a system she calls the daily report card. With this system, the child gets points from their teacher for things like completing work and following directions the first time they get them. Then they bring those points home, where their parents give them small rewards, such as extra time on the iPad or playing a game together.

Get support for yourself

It can be just as frustrating to watch your child withdraw from school as it can be difficult for the kid themself to focus. Elizabeth says that she often feels judged as a parent for having a son who struggles so much in school.

Some schools have support groups for parents of kids who are less motivated, and if your child’s school doesn’t, Elizabeth encourages setting one up. “It’s very comforting to hear that you’re not alone,” she says. “It’s also helpful to hear people who have gone ahead of you talk about how to navigate the school’s system, find a therapist, and talk to teachers.”

“If you’re feeling yourself getting really angry or frustrated with your kids, take a step back,” Dr. Carothers recommends. “Put things into context.”

It’s also important to keep your goals in perspective: Your child may not become a star student. Make sure to focus on the effort they put in and the commitment they show instead of the outcome. If you expect perfect achievement from a child who struggles in school, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

“I’m not trying to get my child to be someone he’s not,” Elizabeth says about her efforts to help her son. “I just want him to reach his potential.”

Frequently Asked Questions

You can motivate your child to do homework by letting them know you’re available to answer any questions they might have and that you see how hard they’re working. You can also reward them with small treats, like going out for ice cream, after they finish a certain amount of homework.

To motivate a child to do well in school, use positive reinforcement such as hugs and high fives, reward their effort rather than specific outcomes, and help them make the connection between current effort and achieving long-term goals such as getting into college.

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how do i get my child to do homework

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  • ADHD Parenting

Make Homework More Engaging — and Boost Your Child’s Confidence, Too

How one child with adhd learned to actually love homework — and how your child can, too..

Jerome Schultz, Ph.D.

A very smart 10-year-old named Zach used to come home from school, sigh heavily, drop his backpack on the floor and say, “I don’t have any homework !”

“How ’bout math? You usually have math ,” his dad said.

“I don’t wanna,” says Zach, “It’s stupid and boring” (which usually means, “It’s too hard”).

Dad coaxed, encouraged, sweet-talked, and bribed his son, to no avail. Zach resisted doing his homework almost every night.

Zach’s dad and mom shared their frustration and worry with Zach’s teacher and, together, they worked out an arrangement, a plan to motivate Zach to get his work done — and boost his resilience and confidence along the way.

[ Free Resource: Solve Common Homework Frustrations ]

Tackling Homework with Joy

The following day after the meeting, Zach’s teacher asked all of the kids to take a look at their homework and pick out three of the 15 problems assigned that they were most likely to get right. She didn’t ask them to pick the easiest problems, but she built in some easy items to make this work better up front.

Then she asked the kids to use a 5-point scale to rate the difficulty level of each problem: 1 is thumbs up, a piece of cake; 5 is super hard. She asked the class to write a number next to the problem and to rate their ability to do each of these independently (1= no help needed). She said, “OK, tonight you have to do these three problems. Please show them to a parent to explain what you’re doing. You can do the rest of the problems, but you don’t have to if you run out of time or energy.”

how do i get my child to do homework

The next day the teacher asked the kids to talk about whether their difficulty rating was accurate: “What number would you assign, now that you’ve done it? And how about the independence rating…were you right? Any changes there? Did you need more help than you thought you would?” The teacher added: “How confident do you feel about the answers to these three problems?” Again, she asked them to use a rating scale.

She handed out the correct answers and asked the class, “How did you do? How do you feel about doing this activity? We’re going to do something like this again tonight, but this time I want you to double the number of problems you tackle.”

[ 12 Shortcuts for Kids Who Hate Homework ]

After the kids — all the kids, not just Zach — circled six items, the teacher asked them how they felt about this challenge. The next day she talked with the class about competence and confidence again. When all the kids said they felt good about their work, she said, “This is the way you should feel about all, or at least most, of your homework.”

On the third day, in keeping with the plan the parents worked out with the teacher, the teacher announced, “Tonight you must do all of your homework. Tell your parents about this and tell them you want to try to do the problems by yourself, but let them know you may need their help. This time, you will do three things: 1) Mark down your start/stop times. I want to see how long it takes each of you to do the same assignment. Don’t worry: I won’t disclose this info to anyone. 2) Rate the level of adult assistance you got. 3) Tomorrow I’ll ask you to give the assignment a confidence rating.”

Making Mistakes — and “Repairing” Them

The teacher asked the kids to show their homework to their parents, having identified in class the three items that will be the most challenging. She included one item that is really hard and said, “You have to do the three problems that you rated as most difficult, and you have to do this ‘extra hard’ one that I added. It’s very likely that some of you will make mistakes, and this is good. Because tomorrow we’re going to have an ‘error repair clinic.’”

Sure enough, some of the kids made errors. The teacher assigned kids to repair teams. Their job was to find out where the error-maker went wrong. Then, as a team, they “repaired” the problem and presented their thought process (and the correct answer) to the class or a larger subgroup.

This little exercise boosted Zach’s confidence. He is less afraid of making mistakes, and knows now that his job is to find and fix inevitable errors. His attitude about homework has changed: He is more likely to look at math as a challenge that can be overcome; he’ll know the joy of success that will keep the momentum going; and he will spend less time in “I can’t” land. In short, he is more likely to bend and rebound rather than freeze up and break when faced with a challenge at school or in life.

What’s more, parents and teacher have learned how to build success together. By the way, you can bet that, for every Zach, there are six kids in a classroom who need this kind of training. I’m sure the teacher will be getting a lot of thank-you notes from parents who find homework time more peaceful.

The Right Kind of Homework

When Zach’s teacher tells her students that “this is the way you should feel when you do your homework,” she is stating the approach I advocate. To be effective, homework should give opportunities to kids to do things that they learned how to do during the day, and that they believe they can do pretty successfully. There should also be some challenge built into homework, some reason for kids to push themselves closer to what I call the “boundary of their competence.”

Homework should never be used to introduce or teach a new concept. This puts a lot of kids on the edge of their incompetence. It is not a good idea, because kids will shy away from tasks that don’t make them feel smart and look competent.

If you like the plan Zach’s parents worked out with his teacher but find yourself thinking, “Yeah, but my child’s teacher won’t go along with it,” do this: Give your child’s teacher a copy of this article and ask them to e-mail me — [email protected] — telling me how the plan worked. Tell them I’d like to add their comments to a growing list from other teachers who rave about this simple and effective approach.

You can use this method at home, as long as your child’s teacher agrees that your child will complete fewer problems in the short run. The goal is to get back to the expected level of solving problems, but with less stress and more success. Who could argue with that?

Remember, if most homework requires help from adults, kids don’t get the chance to feel the joy of independence from doing it on their own. When little kids master a task on their own, they cry out: “Look, Mommy, I did it!” (Remember those sweet moments?) That’s what kids should feel when they do homework.

[ How to Cut Homework Time In Half ]

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Self-Sufficient Kids

How to Get Kids to Do Their Homework and Raise Self-Starters

Homework is one of the best opportunities for kids to practice being self-starters. But how can parents encourage this self-reliance in their kids and avoid fighting over homework?

homework and self-starters

It had been nearly an hour since my eight-year-old had begun her vocabulary homework. With four pages still to go, she was on the verge of tears and sleepiness as we approached bedtime.

She was overwhelmed and in over her head.

The issue wasn’t an exorbitant amount of homework, but rather that she had left this assignment for the last minute. With a week to complete a unit in her workbook, she hadn’t planned carefully enough, and now was scrambling to get it done the evening before it was due.

This was the first year my oldest had received homework. Wanting to give her a sense of ownership over this responsibility, I had generally let her determine when and how to complete her work .

But as I sat beside her and saw her struggle, I wondered if I had done too little to coach her in time management. Not wanting to become a dreaded helicopter parent, I had probably overcompensated in the opposite direction.

how do i get my child to do homework

The RIGHT way to get kids to do homework, according to experts

After this experience, I felt a little lost – wondering how much checking in with kids about their homework was too much and how much was too little. Where was the balance?

Searching for answers, I decided to dig into this topic. After identifying three experts in this field, I reached out to them and arranged interviews. Here’s what they told me:

In the early years, actively coach kids on organization and time management

The first thing I learned, not surprisingly, is that my approach to letting my daughter figure out time management on her own was all wrong.

The experts I spoke to pointed out that few young kids have executive functioning skills or the ability to plan ahead when they first begin receiving homework – often in early elementary school. This lack of organizational understanding can be a barrier to getting homework done.

Here’s what they suggest parents do to help their kids develop these skills:

  • Set up a specific place for kids to do homework: Betsy Brown Braun , a child development and behavior specialist, believes that kids should have a special place where homework is completed other than the dining room table or kitchen counter. “Kids should have a place of their own – like a desk,” she says. “We want to set them up to respect homework.” This creates a physical place kids associate with doing work, and later with planning for doing work.
  • Have a homework routine : Kids benefit from knowing there’s a certain time every day set aside for doing homework, according to Ann Dolin, owner of Educational Connections , a tutoring company in the metropolitan D.C. area. The hour doesn’t have to be the same every day – especially if afterschool activities vary each afternoon. But kids should have a general sense of when homework time takes place. And Braun suggests that parents should involve their children in deciding when this time should be: “Because that shows his responsibility in it,” she says. Knowing there’s a specific time to do homework gets kids in the habit of setting aside time each day to complete their work.
  • Ask kids if they need a reminder: Braun suggests asking your child if they want a reminder when the agreed-upon homework time approaches. Ask if they’d like for you to set an alarm or simply tell them when it’s time. By taking ownership of being aware of when it’s time for homework, they’ll start to move towards taking ownership of managing their workload.
  • Help kids get started – and then walk away: At this young age, some kids might feel overwhelmed by the idea of simply getting started with their work. Parents can help by making sure their kids understand the directions. But after kids have completed a few problems in an assignment, both Dolin and Braun agree that parents should then walk away and let kids independently complete the work on their own. Completing each assignment independently is, again, a stepping stone towards independently managing the flow of homework assignments.
  • Make a rule that homework isn’t considered complete until it’s in your child’s backpack: A good habit to form early on is to make sure homework goes right into kids backpacks as soon as it’s done, Dolin says. This avoids any assignments being turned in late.
  • Make sure kids have some downtime: After a long day of school and activities, kids need a bit of downtime before digging into homework. “Most kids need at least a half hour to unwind,” Dolin suggests. This downtime helps kids recharge and increases their ability to focus. Braun also emphasizes that parents need to watch out for overscheduling after-school activities and making sure these don’t supersede homework.

Help kids plan their homework with this weekly homework planner. Click on the link below to access the planner. In addition to receiving the planner, you’ll also be signed up for my weekly-ish newsletter with tips on how to raise independent, self-reliant kids:

Homework planner

Eventually, kids can independently manage homework on their own

Every child is different. But after a year or two of getting help from parents on these intermediary steps towards better time-management, most kids are ready to take on independently the full responsibility of homework management.

But how can parents know if their child is ready? “By asking a lot of questions”, Dolin says.

“How might you organize this? How long are you going to spend on this? Depending on their answers to these questions you can tell if they can be independent,” she says.

Questions about organization and time management also help kids begin problem-solving on their own. And once you’ve seen a consistent pattern of kids having a well-thought-out plan for completing their homework, you can begin to step back and let kids manage their own time.

Ready to teach your child life skills? These cards can help! Each card in this eighty-one deck contains a skill your child can begin practicing with you or on their own. Click here or the image below to learn more.

child hand holding life skills cards

Ways parents sabotage their kids’ self-reliance with homework

Often without even knowing it, parents get in the way of their kids’ independence with homework and other responsibilities. Here are a few things to avoid in order to raise kids who are homework self-starters:

Don’t focus too heavily on the quality of the work: It’s natural for parents to want their kids to do their best school work. But leave the quality of the work up to the teacher, Dolin says. “I hear of so many fights about the quality of work between parents and students,” she says. “And then kids will start to avoid homework. The goal of homework – especially when kids are younger – is to practice skills and learn independence and responsibility.”

Braun agrees: “I don’t believe that parents should correct their kids’ homework. The quality of the homework is between the child and teacher. How else will the teacher know what the kid needs help on?” She also notes that parents often think they are helping their kids by getting involved in their homework, or not letting them fail. But parents don’t realize the message they’re sending – that their child is not capable or good enough.

Don’t create your own consequences for incomplete homework: Again, let that be between the student and the teacher. If a student doesn’t finish his homework, “he must deal with his teacher,” Dr. Frances Walfish , a family and relationship psychotherapist, says. “Don’t bail him out, criticise, or chastise him,” she continues. Let the teacher decide what the consequence will be and eventually he should begin to realize that it’s easier to get homework done the night before.

If a child declares that she won’t do her homework on a particular evening, parents can state – in a non-threatening way – that they ‘ ll write the child’s teacher and make them aware of her decision, Braun suggests. But she warns that parents still need to be alert to tiredness, an uneasiness about getting started or other reasons why kids might resisting doing their homework – and address those reasons first.

Don’t do homework with your kids :  “Don’t get in the habit of doing homework with your child too much. Parents get in the habit of doing the homework with the child and when it’s time for kids to do their homework on their own they haven’t had the experience of doing it alone,” Braun says. This gets back to the notion of making sure kids understand what they need to accomplish and then walking away to let them work on their own. “A seven or eight-year-old should be able to get his homework done on his own.” she says.

Don’t send the general message that your child isn’t capable: By constantly correcting kids – not letting them try and fail – and doing things for them that they’re capable of doing on their own, we are sending the message to kids that they aren’t capable, Braun says.  But by “working to cultivate self-reliance early on you are putting kids in a position to make them self-starters in everything including homework.”

Coaching while also letting go

After that fateful evening of disappointment and frustration, I changed my tactic in helping my daughter plan her time.

“Let’s sit down and decide when you will have an opportunity to work on your vocabulary homework for this week.” I began to ask her every Monday evening. Play practice was on Thursdays, basketball on Wednesdays. That left Monday and Tuesday as the best evenings for her to work on her assignment.

Writing out the days of the week, we determined on which evening she would have more time to get her work done.

As the weeks progressed, she became more aware of how much time was needed and how long an assignment would take. Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way, but by the end of the year, she was just about ready to tackle homework on her own.

And now that’s she’s in fifth grade, that work has paid off. While every now and then she still discovers she hasn’t allowed enough time to finish a math assignment or didn’t read her book report book quite as quickly as she had hoped, on most weeks her homework is complete – and she gets to bed on time.  

Interested in getting your kids started on chores? My four-lesson course will teach you how to get started, avoid nagging & power struggles, and keep your kids motivated. Click here or the image below to learn more.

Get Your Kids Successfully Started Course

See related:

15 Life Skills Kids Need Before They Leave Home

10 Life Lessons Kids Need to Experience Before They Leave Home

How to Raise Responsible Kids – Not Just Obedient Ones

What to do next…

1. subscribe to self-sufficient kids’ email list., 2. take one of my quizzes.

Find out if you’re raising a self-sufficient kid ( click here ) or if you’re doing too much for your kids ( click here ). At the end of each quiz, you’ll be asked to provide your email address to see the results.

3. Get your kids started on chores.

Learn how to get your child started on chores (& keep them motivated + avoid power struggles) by enrolling in my Get Your Kids Successfully Started on Chores course. Click here to learn more and sign up.

how do i get my child to do homework

About Kerry Flatley

Hi! I’m Kerry, the mother of two girls and a certified parent educator. I believe it is possible for parents to have a supportive, loving, and warm relationship with their kids while raising them to be independent and ultimately self-sufficient. Over the years, I’ve read numerous books and articles that support this belief and I’ve put these ideas into practice with my own kids. Read more about me and Self-Sufficient Kids here.

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How do i motivate my child to turn in homework.

Motivation for things like homework can be hard for complex kids. How do you motivate your child to turn in homework?

Does your kid do their homework and then neglect to turn it in? Does that make you frustrated, but your child doesn’t seem to care? Here are some thoughts on helping kids turn in homework. It starts with a question about whether it’s even important to you.

Elaine: All right, so we have a question that we want to read to you from a mom who says, "How do I motivate my inattentive kid to do homework ?" But then she goes on to say, "Personally, I don't believe in homework. My kid spends six hours at school, gets home after 4 p.m., and then faces three to four hours of homework a day, so there's no down time, no time to spend with friends, or even just relax."

Diane: It's hard when our values are questioned –

Elaine: ...or are out of sync with what's expected.

Diane: Part of this is about understanding what your child really wants, and so it may be that your child's in line with you, and says, "I really don't want to do homework either." Or your child might be, "My gosh, I really want to get it done." A lot of our kids are focused on pleasing , and doing really well, and so that's the first thing, is to just check in and make sure you're in the same groove that your child is, on this.

The second piece of it is to know that you really do have choices in the matter, and it doesn't always feel like that, because one of the choices probably feels pretty stinky. But this is taking me back to the decision I made to let my son fail band class in 7th grade. It was a lot of work for him to fill out all those little things that said he practiced, and he actually practiced, but he was failing because he wasn't actually turning in his stuff. So we made the choice. I think that that's part of it, is just reflecting on what choices you do have, and being conscious about that.

Elaine: What I would add to that is bringing your kid into that conversation like we did. My son was in an exam period, and was really struggling with a paper that he didn't like the topic , he didn't like the book, he didn't like anything, and he was really having a hard time. I finally looked at him, and I said, "So what if you don't write it?" And he paused, and processed it, and figured it out, and then he came back and he said, "No, I'd lose two grades, too many grades – It's not worth it." But then when he went to finish the paper, he had a different motivation . It was his decision to do it, instead of just something he had to do, and that made a huge difference.

Bottom Line: At the end of the day, whether our kids do their homework, or choose to turn it in, is about how invested they are, and how reasonable it is. Start by getting clear on the real challenge before you focus on the goal of turning in homework.

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How Parents Can Help Children Who Struggle with Homework

A s a parent, it’s tough to see your child struggle with homework, and, of course, you feel the need to help. However, helping your child too much can make them dependent on you, so it’s important to know where to draw the line. The best approach is to help your child improve their study habits and skills so that they will have fewer problems with homework. 

Ways to help your child overcome their struggle with homework 

Help your child develop a positive attitude toward learning .

As adults, we resent being forced to do things we don’t want to do and our children are no different. Kids who have a negative attitude toward learning are more likely to struggle with homework. A simple way to help your child develop a positive attitude toward learning is to show them what’s in it for them.

For instance, if your child dreams of becoming a pilot, you can make a colorful flowchart showing how studying hard now can help her achieve her goals. Even if your child doesn’t know what she wants to become when she grows up, you can show her that there are endless possibilities if she studies diligently. This will provide your child with an incentive to learn, which will help to reduce issues with homework. 

Establish a daily homework routine 

A daily homework routine is very important as it sends your child the message that schoolwork is top priority. It is best to start this routine when your child is still young so that he or she will adjust to it and is less likely to struggle with homework issues later on. It is best to schedule homework time before TV or gaming time, and make sure that your child understands that they will not be allowed to watch TV or get on their phones until their homework is finished. 

Create a workspace for homework  

Think of your cubicle at work – it limits distractions, yet allows you to have a quick word with a team member when necessary – which is exactly what your child requires. If your child is struggling with their homework, they are more likely to get distracted. This is why a dedicated workspace is so important.

When deciding on the location of your child’s workspace consider if it’s going to be free of noise and distractions. For instance, don’t set up your child’s workspace in the living room if other family members will be watching TV during that time. 

Create a homework strategy that works for them 

A homework strategy will help your child track and complete multiple assignments without feeling overwhelmed by the workload. Some kids prefer to start with easier homework assignments and then move on to the tougher ones while others prefer to complete the more difficult tasks first.

A simple but effective way to help your child overcome their struggle with homework is to let your child experiment with multiple strategies until they find one that works. Younger kids have shorter attention spans so let your child take a five-minute break between assignments if necessary. 

And, for every age, if study periods run long, incorporate “ brain breaks .” We actually become less productive when we sit too long. A short break allows us to re-focus, destress, and work more effectively. (Pick up our Energizing Brain Breaks Printable for Kids here .)

Use multisensory techniques and study aids  

Researchers have found evidence that students learn a new concept more easily when it is taught using multiple modalities such as sight, hearing, and touch. For instance, when teaching your child a new word, tell him or her to say the word out loud while tracing it in salt or cornmeal using their fingertips. They should repeat this process several times, and then use a pencil to write down the word. This is especially helpful for tricky sight word for kids that don’t follow phonetic patterns. Engaging multiple senses in the learning process will make it easier for your child to study and will reduce their struggle with homework.

Similarly, if your child is older and having trouble with fractions, you can use an apple to help them understand the concept. You can cut an apple into equal portions, and then use the pieces to explain fractions in an innovative and enjoyable manner. You can even let them eat the pieces each time they get the right answer. These simple study aids will help to make learning fun for your child and help them overcome homework problems.

It’s equally important to pinpoint the root cause of homework issues, as it might just be a temporary problem. For instance, if your child has been sick with the flu, they may not have their usual energy, in which case, you can step in and help. Similarly, if your child is prone to seasonal allergies, they might find it tougher to focus during summer or fall, which would affect their studies. You can experiment with several natural ways to treat seasonal allergies in order to help your child recover quickly. 

Any mental stressors are important to address as well. Consult a professional for serious concerns, of course, but every child can benefit from mindfulness activities .

Parents, do you have any other ideas to help children who struggle with homework? Leave us a comment.


Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids: 6 Free PDF Printables

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How Parents Can Help Children Who Struggle with Homework

  • Children with autism & homework – 11 tips for success

how do i get my child to do homework

If you’re a parent of a child with autism, you know that it can be a challenge to motivate them to complete homework assignments. Often during this process, children with ASD will express an array of problem behaviors including tantrums, noncompliance, and aggression. This can be stressful for parents and caregivers who can sometimes feel defeated. There are, however, evidence-based techniques that will encourage the successful completion of assignments.

Ultimately, you do not want to force your child to do homework; you want to incentivize them. With that in mind, here are eleven tips from our Board Certified Behavior Analysts that will start you and your child on the road to success.

11 tips to incentivize your child with autism to successfully complete homework

  • Understand the assignment. Often, there are distractions in the classroom when your child writes down their homework. This can cause them to not fully understand what needs to get accomplished. A simple solution would be regular communication with the teacher. Perhaps a quick text message with a picture of the assignment written on the blackboard. Also, having the phone number of another student may be helpful.
  • Set a time. For some children, it is best to start homework as soon as they arrive home from school. For other children, however, it is better to allow them a set amount of time to relax and unwind from their day. Remember, school for a child on with ASD can be stressful as they may be struggling to keep up with neuro-typically developing peers both socially and academically.
  • Create a regular schedule. Keeping a routine will help to communicate expectations. Individuals on the spectrum generally prefer routines and problem behavior may arise as a result of breaking that routine. Set a time to start homework, a time for breaks, and a regular, distraction-free place in the home where assignments can be completed.
  • Remove distractions. A distraction could be a sibling, pets, television, noises, tangibles like toys or lights. Make sure that the table your child sits at is clear of all clutter. The fewer distractions, the more likely your child will maintain focus.
  • Be available. Your child may need help with her or his homework. Be in the proximity of their workspace so as to prevent them from getting up and causing further distraction. You don’t have to sit with them the entire time but being within an earshot can be helpful.
  • Set the ground rules. The important thing about making rules is that you stick to them. Do not give into a problem behavior just to temporarily make the issue go away. In the long run, it will be more difficult to replace that behavior with one that is acceptable. Some rules may be, “You can play your video games only if you finish your homework,” or “you must stay seated until one page of homework is done.” Also, when prompting your child to start her or his homework, it is important not to do so in the form of a question. Why? Because if you ask your child, “Can you do your homework now?” An appropriate response would be, “No.” So make sure to state this direction in the form of a demand. For example, “Do your homework now please.”
  • Reward your child. No one knows what activities and tangibles your child likes more than you. Perhaps your daughter or son likes to play Angry Birds on your iPhone. These sorts of activities can be used to reward good behavior or, in this case, the completion of an assignment. Never provide a reward unless your child has successfully completed what was asked of her or him. Lastly, do not use the reward as bribery. Use, if________ then ________ statements.
  • Segment assignments. Sitting down and studying or doing work for an extended period of time can be challenging. For this reason, you can segment homework assignments by specific task or by a length of time. Then, match the successful completion with the reward. For example, “Complete 2 pages of homework then you get to play Angry Birds for 5-minutes.” Or, “Work on your homework for 20-minutes then you get to play Angry Birds for 5-minutes.
  • Use a timer . A visual timer is a great way to engage your child and keep her or him on track. If your rule is that your child does homework for 20-minutes, the timer will help enforce this. Before you start the timer make sure that all of your child’s questions are answered so as to avoid distractions.
  • Create a visual schedule. A visual schedule will help you stick to the routine. You can take pictures of different activities, print and laminate them, and use Velcro to attach them to a board.
  • You’re not alone. Once you have your plan, ask family members or service providers to help. Taking turns can alleviate stress.

These are a few basic tips that would help you and your child successfully complete homework assignments. Every child is unique. Problem behaviors have specific functions . For that reason, as part of your ABA services , a BCBA will observe and assess undesirable behaviors and tailor a behavior intervention plan that is as unique as your child and her or his specific challenges. To compliment this plan, your ABA provider should provide parent training.

What are your biggest challenges in getting your child to do her or his homework? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or connect with 

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What we know about online learning and the homework gap amid the pandemic

A sixth grader completes his homework online in his family's living room in Boston on March 31, 2020.

America’s K-12 students are returning to classrooms this fall after 18 months of virtual learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some students who lacked the home internet connectivity needed to finish schoolwork during this time – an experience often called the “ homework gap ” – may continue to feel the effects this school year.

Here is what Pew Research Center surveys found about the students most likely to be affected by the homework gap and their experiences learning from home.

Children across the United States are returning to physical classrooms this fall after 18 months at home, raising questions about how digital disparities at home will affect the existing homework gap between certain groups of students.

Methodology for each Pew Research Center poll can be found at the links in the post.

With the exception of the 2018 survey, everyone who took part in the surveys is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the  ATP’s methodology .

The 2018 data on U.S. teens comes from a Center poll of 743 U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 conducted March 7 to April 10, 2018, using the NORC AmeriSpeak panel. AmeriSpeak is a nationally representative, probability-based panel of the U.S. household population. Randomly selected U.S. households are sampled with a known, nonzero probability of selection from the NORC National Frame, and then contacted by U.S. mail, telephone or face-to-face interviewers. Read more details about the NORC AmeriSpeak panel methodology .

Around nine-in-ten U.S. parents with K-12 children at home (93%) said their children have had some online instruction since the coronavirus outbreak began in February 2020, and 30% of these parents said it has been very or somewhat difficult for them to help their children use technology or the internet as an educational tool, according to an April 2021 Pew Research Center survey .

A bar chart showing that mothers and parents with lower incomes are more likely than fathers and those with higher incomes to have trouble helping their children with tech for online learning

Gaps existed for certain groups of parents. For example, parents with lower and middle incomes (36% and 29%, respectively) were more likely to report that this was very or somewhat difficult, compared with just 18% of parents with higher incomes.

This challenge was also prevalent for parents in certain types of communities – 39% of rural residents and 33% of urban residents said they have had at least some difficulty, compared with 23% of suburban residents.

Around a third of parents with children whose schools were closed during the pandemic (34%) said that their child encountered at least one technology-related obstacle to completing their schoolwork during that time. In the April 2021 survey, the Center asked parents of K-12 children whose schools had closed at some point about whether their children had faced three technology-related obstacles. Around a quarter of parents (27%) said their children had to do schoolwork on a cellphone, 16% said their child was unable to complete schoolwork because of a lack of computer access at home, and another 14% said their child had to use public Wi-Fi to finish schoolwork because there was no reliable connection at home.

Parents with lower incomes whose children’s schools closed amid COVID-19 were more likely to say their children faced technology-related obstacles while learning from home. Nearly half of these parents (46%) said their child faced at least one of the three obstacles to learning asked about in the survey, compared with 31% of parents with midrange incomes and 18% of parents with higher incomes.

A chart showing that parents with lower incomes are more likely than parents with higher incomes to say their children have faced tech-related schoolwork challenges in the pandemic

Of the three obstacles asked about in the survey, parents with lower incomes were most likely to say that their child had to do their schoolwork on a cellphone (37%). About a quarter said their child was unable to complete their schoolwork because they did not have computer access at home (25%), or that they had to use public Wi-Fi because they did not have a reliable internet connection at home (23%).

A Center survey conducted in April 2020 found that, at that time, 59% of parents with lower incomes who had children engaged in remote learning said their children would likely face at least one of the obstacles asked about in the 2021 survey.

A year into the outbreak, an increasing share of U.S. adults said that K-12 schools have a responsibility to provide all students with laptop or tablet computers in order to help them complete their schoolwork at home during the pandemic. About half of all adults (49%) said this in the spring 2021 survey, up 12 percentage points from a year earlier. An additional 37% of adults said that schools should provide these resources only to students whose families cannot afford them, and just 13% said schools do not have this responsibility.

A bar chart showing that roughly half of adults say schools have responsibility to provide technology to all students during pandemic

While larger shares of both political parties in April 2021 said K-12 schools have a responsibility to provide computers to all students in order to help them complete schoolwork at home, there was a 15-point change among Republicans: 43% of Republicans and those who lean to the Republican Party said K-12 schools have this responsibility, compared with 28% last April. In the 2021 survey, 22% of Republicans also said schools do not have this responsibility at all, compared with 6% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

Even before the pandemic, Black teens and those living in lower-income households were more likely than other groups to report trouble completing homework assignments because they did not have reliable technology access. Nearly one-in-five teens ages 13 to 17 (17%) said they are often or sometimes unable to complete homework assignments because they do not have reliable access to a computer or internet connection, a 2018 Center survey of U.S. teens found.

A bar chart showing that in 2018, Black teens and those from lower-income households were especially likely to be impacted by the digital 'homework gap'

One-quarter of Black teens said they were at least sometimes unable to complete their homework due to a lack of digital access, including 13% who said this happened to them often. Just 4% of White teens and 6% of Hispanic teens said this often happened to them. (There were not enough Asian respondents in the survey sample to be broken out into a separate analysis.)

A wide gap also existed by income level: 24% of teens whose annual family income was less than $30,000 said the lack of a dependable computer or internet connection often or sometimes prohibited them from finishing their homework, but that share dropped to 9% among teens who lived in households earning $75,000 or more a year.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • COVID-19 & Technology
  • Digital Divide
  • Education & Learning Online

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How Americans View the Coronavirus, COVID-19 Vaccines Amid Declining Levels of Concern

Online religious services appeal to many americans, but going in person remains more popular, about a third of u.s. workers who can work from home now do so all the time, how the pandemic has affected attendance at u.s. religious services, mental health and the pandemic: what u.s. surveys have found, most popular.

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