I’ve been receiving private parenting coaching from Cynthia and needed help with my 7 year-old’s son’s resistance to doing homework.
Because I didn’t think my son was getting enough practice in school, I signed him up for additional tutoring. I had to constantly push him to do his school homework as well as the tutoring work. He’d say, “Ok I’ll do it. It’ll do it.” I would keep pushing and he would get upset, cry and scream and say I hate tutoring.
Cynthia helped me realize that I was taking on homework as if it was totally my issue rather than my son’s.
She taught me how to talk with my son about it being a joint problem to work out together. He is too young to figure out when to do it on his own and to be committed to doing it.
Cynthia suggested my son and I develop a homework plan together.
My son knows I’m getting parenting coaching. I had a problem-solving discussion with my son. Here is how our conversation went.
Mom: Remember how I’m getting parenting help? Well, I talked to Cynthia about the homework battles we are having. She gave me some homework to do and I need help from you. She suggested that we come up with a homework plan together. I should not be getting so angry and frustrated about you not doing homework. You should be taking more ownership about doing your homework. We’ll figure out how you can take part in developing your homework plan so you’ll know what you’re supposed to be doing.
Son: Great Mom. Now I can help you with your homework like you help me with mine.
Mom: Yes. So tell me, how do you feel about homework?
Son: Sometimes I don’t like it. Especially the extra tutoring work I have to do.
Mom: What do think about the tutoring work that you get?
Son: I don’t like it most of the time.
Son: Because it’s hard and it’s a higher level for me. I get frustrated. Sometimes I don’t like school homework because it’s harder now.
Mom: You find the homework hard and that’s the part you don’t like?
Mom: So when it’s hard, does that make you feel like you are dumb? Does it frustrate you?
Son: Well no, not really. Most of the time I don’t feel like I’m dumb.
Mom: So tell me what you really think. What do you think about taking tutoring away?
Son: I’m not sure. That’s a really hard question. Well. I find my tutoring work hard in the beginning. It gets to newer levels and its way beyond what I know. But I do see the benefits, though. Because I’m doing the extra reading comprehension work, I found a reading test in school easy because of my tutoring.
Mom: Yeah! The purpose is to make school easer. Does the tutoring help you feel confident about yourself in school?
Son: I felt really good this year in school because I am ahead of everyone this year. Last year I could barely do addition. I didn’t feel good about myself then.
Mom: What do you think then about continuing the tutoring?
Son: Yeah, I don’t think I would not want to do tutoring. I think I still want to continue.
Mom: Okay, we can continue. If you find it difficult, we can talk to the teacher and cut down 10 pages to 5 pages, keep you longer on a certain level, or go slower. Let me know when it gets too difficult and we can talk to the teacher.
Mom: OK. Let’s make a homework plan. When is the best time to do homework?
Son: I do need time when I come home to have a snack
Mom: Do you need any other time to do something?
Son: Yeah maybe to play or read to help me relax.
We decided on using the term “unwind time” which my son really liked. This would be for 30 minutes after school. In the 30 minutes he can do what he wants, snack, read or snack and play.
I could see a potential problem about my son reading for 30 minutes then wanting to eat. I brought this up to him. He decided on 15 minutes eating and 15 minutes of fun. He will set the timer. After 30 minutes, he will do school homework first which should take 20 minutes to do. Then afterwards he will do his tutoring work which shouldn’t take more than an hour.
My son suggested a minor change when he has special days. “The plan has to shift the days I have activities,”
For example, today he told me that he is going to come home and eat while he is doing homework since he has a special activity. He decided that after homework, he’ll do his activity, come home, the do his tutoring work so he can go to his friend’s house to watch the basketball game tonight.
My son was so excited about taking on responsibility for following his homework plan. We both signed the agreement and posted it.
This morning he woke up excited and said, “Mom I’m so happy I have a plan today about my homework.
Then Cynthia reminded me to set up a check in date. I’m worried he won’t keep doing our plan. She explained that everyone needs to be recharged when they make a determination. Rather than getting mad at him if he starts to slip and I feel like I have to start nagging; have a check in session. Discuss again how it’s going and remind him how much better he feels when he takes responsibility rather than me taking over and nagging him.
I am so excited to be viewing homework as a joint problem to solve and using my Collaborative Parenting Role skills so I won’t go into feeling taken advantage of and used. Thank you so much Cynthia.
From a Happy Mom of a 7, 5 and 3 year old.
©2015 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Family Success Coach since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.