See if this situation sounds familiar…
An 8 year old son does sloppy work with homework. He rushed through it as quickly as possible so he could get done, then head outside to play.
The mom (or father) then checks his work; seeing that it was rushed through, she then forces him to redo it.
She’s frustrated because he doesn’t see the value; telling him over and over: “what your work is like tells people who you are. You need to do your best.”
She wants him to even enjoy his homework and value it but she isn’t having any luck accomplishing this.
Her constant moralizing is not changing the situation. She’s afraid that he will not take responsibility and care about the quality of his work when he is an adult.
Her child ends up feeling like he’s falling behind, maybe even feeling stupid or not good about himself because he isn’t living up to his mother’s standards.
She tells him every day to do his best, thinking she is teaching him good morals. But it isn’t working because he isn’t changing.
No one ends up winning in this situation.
The mom is stuck in a rut of ineffective communication that is not reaching anyone’s goals; and the son feels like he is disappointing his mother.
The Family Connection Process Approach
Homework is often a source of conflict between parents and children.
Most young children don’t see the value in homework so they don’t take ownership in completing it. Even, my daughter always complained about homework!
She’d say, “Why don’t they just keep us at school longer to finish our work? Why do we have to bring it home with us?”
Now, there are books that theorize that homework at a young age is ineffective and that children need to be playing rather than sitting down in front of paper.
But, since most children will be coming home with homework for the foreseeable future, we can’t count on that theory to save us.
The strategy of telling your child their homework is important, in the hopes of making them like it is just as unlikely to work.
My first strategy is that you hear out “the grumbling.”
Just listen to their views, and don’t try to make them feel different about their homework.
It’s your challenge to hear the upset, not theirs to change it at that moment. It’s most likely that they will actually be able to move past the upset into action if you can listen first.
Next, apply The Family Connection Process; in which you and your child view this situation as a problem to solve together.
Homework at a young age is a joint ownership problem.
You have to be the one driving the problem solving process because your kid would rather homework disappear completely.
But when you develop a plan together, it will become your joint problem, increasing the chance that your child will become engaged.
Please note: the dialogue below is focused around a school-aged child.
If high school aged children feel strongly about not valuing homework and therefore not willing to do homework; parents will have a very difficult time changing their child’s perspective.
Look in the teenager section for suggestions on how to approach a teenager who has this problem.
Homework…As A Joint Venture
Here is what I sugget the mom do regarding her son doing poor work and then having to redo it.
First, try saying something along the lines of…
Parent: “I’ve been pushing you hard to do your homework better and it hasn’t been helping. I’m sorry for talking in a way that might be hurting your feelings. I would like to try again, and this time, we’re going to work together to find a solution that works for you.”
TIP: (You are not trying for the “best” solution. You don’t know what that is and neither does your child. You are just going to find a different solution that both of you agree to try.)
Adult: “I see that when I make you redo your work, that you are not very happy about it…”
Then be silent and wait for their response.
TIP: (Don’t go into moralizing here; saying, “I just want you to learn how important it is to do your best work. You don’t want your teachers to think you can’t do the work when I know you can especially if you tried harder.”)
Parent: “I understand. What would you like instead?”
Child: “I’d rather not do my homework at all.”
Parent: “No homework would be a lot easier, wouldn’t it?.”
Then, be quiet and listen!
I know that some of you are currently cringing and thinking…“I can’t say that to my child. Then they’ll think I don’t value homework and then they won’t do it for sure!”
Your empathy will help your child get through their stuck place and move into a more problem solving mode.
Child: “I want to watch TV. This homework is so stupid.”
Parent: “I see. So that’s why you rush through it.”
Parent: “I’m wondering what the time difference is between doing it fast first and then redoing…as opposed to doing it slow the first time. What do you think?”
Child: “I could time myself and see.”
Parent: “Yes, you could try that. Would you like to try this experiment to help us decide on the best way to do your homework?”
Child: “OK. I’ll go get the timer.”
Parent: “Would you like to try doing it fast first, or slow?”
Child: “Fast first!”
You may be thinking this is crazy, or, I don’t have time to do this.
Now, I’d like you to figure out how much time and energy you waste getting upset and frustrated, only to then make your kid to redo their homework.
Try to let go of sticking to your old pattern.
Approach this as trying to help your son (or daughter) solve the problem of time being wasted by letting them do the experiment.
Once he or she has had fun checking the time difference, and trying to beat the clock, they will be much more encouraged to do it slowly the first time.
If they continue to want your attention (getting you to tell them to do it again) then there may be an issue with the child feeling that they don’t get your attention in a positive way.
So, their inappropriate behavior is driven by attention-seeking. In this case, this is another subject to explore…
But, I dare you to be bold and try this new approach and see how your relationship becomes less strained and more peaceful.