We all have, at one time or another, been faced with the homework drama.
The mysterious headaches, the aching wrist, the missing homework sheet, the arguments, the excuses. Sometimes they are just isolated incidents but sometimes they precede every homework/study time.
What causes them? Why would our children put themselves in the situation where there might be anger, fights, and repercussions at school? They all know that having your homework done cannot be avoided for long. Sooner or later theyll have to do it. Why do they choose to fight it in the first place?
So, is there a sure-fire way to fix the homework drama? The answer is not black or white. But using the set of principles and actions we will talk about here, today, combined with your own expectations, values, and your childs circumstances you will be able to come as close as possible to the perfect solution. What we know is that homework is something that children have to do alone. What we dont seem to remember is that like any other skill this is something we should teach our kids. We teach them how to walk and they will learn how to run by themselves, we teach them how to spell and they will write their first poem alone, we teach them how to read and they will learn how to dream by themselves.
We teach them how to do their homework and we have laid the first brick in what will be the strong foundation for their growth towards the adults we will be proud of.
1.Be informed about school expectations/ Be informed about school policy on homework/study
Find out what the school policy on homework is and be informed of school expectations. If you feel you disagree in anyway with them ask the class teacher or the year coordinator to explain to you the reason behind their approach to homework.
2.Be prepared to get involved
Be prepared to get involved because there is no way youll be able to have any impact if you try to do it from the outside. You have to be part of the process of change and you have to believe in it. Understand what triggers the reaction in your child
Try and understand your child better by talking to him/her. Try to find out what triggers a certain attitude that you want to change. Some will only say I just dont like it. Its too hard. I hate it. Others will give you more details: I dont like the teacher. I dont understand during the class and I am ashamed to ask because others will make fun of me I dont like maths. Take all the information you get because youll need it. Keep an open mind when looking for answers
Talk to your child, be open, dont judge, be fair and keep an open mind when looking for answers. Same with the teacher and the school. Keep an open mind, look for reasons, and look for what is really important.
This may take some time. In fact I am sure it will take some time but it will come with a huge reward. You will know more about your child, you will understand your child better, and you will be proactive in helping your child lose the little battle over homework and win the big war of developing the right attitude.
3.Look at what you want to achieve in the long run
Ask yourself: why do I want my child to change his/her attitude towards homework? Because I dont like the arguments we are having? Because I dont like the way it influences the family life? Because this is what I want? None of these should be answered affirmatively. The real reason we want our kids to do their homework is because we want to develop their concentration, their capacity to focus and their capability of seeing a task through. We want this because we know he/she will need them if they are to be successful in their lives no matter what the path they choose is going to be.
What you need then, is not the desire to have a child that gives in the homework every week no questions asked, but a child who does it because he/she knows that as everybody else he/she has a responsibility that has to be carried through. A child who knows that once you start something you should do whatever you can to finish it. A child who takes pride in work well done.
4.Have clear expectations/strategies/rules in place
Once you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve in the long run work on your intentions, work on your strategies, work on the rules you want to use to carry them through.
This sounds scary and far too complicated but let me give you an example that will show you how easy it is:
My intention is to have my son do his homework in the time set aside for it, without arguments and without constant help.
My strategy is to show him that we are working towards this goal together and create a level of trust that will mean that Sergiu will know I am not doing this because I am mean but because I am his best friend and want only the best for him.
My rules for myself are: I will be always fair, I will keep an open mind, I will define and explain my boundaries, I will be calm, I will put my share of commitment, I will not judge and I will always observe these rules.
The rules for my son are: there are no lies, he has to do his best (he can ask for help only after I see that he has tried before asking), he has to be committed, he will respect my boundaries as I will respect his, he will stick to the rules.
5.Write an affirmation list for yourself/your child
Enter this process in a positive frame of mind, and the best and easy way to do this is to write an affirmation list for yourself and one for your child.
You can choose to make this a family affair and ask everyone in the family to write ten positive things about you and the child/ren you will concentrate on. Compile the lists and you have what other people think. Add to them anything else you think should be added and there you are: your lists are ready for you.
What will you accomplish? You will be able to concentrate on your own strengths and qualities and those of your child and use them to make this process a success.
6.Take care of yourself (so you can take care of your child)
If youve ever been on an airflight you will remember the instructions the young (and very beautiful stewardess) will stress for you to remember in case you will ever need to use the oxygen mask. They tell the mothers with young children that should there ever be the need to use the oxygen masks the mother should put her mask first and only then put the mask on the child.
Think of it and you will see that it will be rather hard to stop yourself from helping your child first. This is why the airlines take the time to remind us that no matter how normal a reaction this would be it is still the wrong action in an emergency. Why? Because if the mother is not fit she cannot take care of her child.
Take care of yourself, make sure you remember that you are as important as anyone else in the family, make sure you have enough rest, make sure you acknowledge yourself and give yourself credit for your efforts. It will make it so much easier to keep a smile on your face!
7.Let your child know that you acknowledge his/her strengths/Never miss an opportunity for pointing achievements
Dont keep your good opinion about your child/ren for yourself. Acknowledge them and make sure they know that you see their qualities as easy as we parents seem to see mistakes and shortfalls.
Do not mix praise and criticism in the same sentence. What can be more demoralising than to hear someone tell you: You cooked a wonderful meal today dear, but I do not know what to do about your lack of interest in cleaning up the kitchen. You did a great job Jake in Commerce but you are beyond my understanding and doing really poorly in Maths.
No one remembers the praise part. All they can hear is the bad job I did in the kitchen and the problem that Jake has in Maths.
Keep praise and criticism well apart. Or do what I do with your younger children. After they have a great success in something they are good at tell them that now they have reached the point where they will be allowed to be good at something else too.
8.Homework/study is something to enjoy/Make this time the quality time we are all looking for
Think about the time you are going to invest in this project as the quality time you were looking for. You have a chance to share something with your child that will forever be with him/her.
Be calm and smile a lot. Not only will smiling make you feel better but it will also make the child comfortable and encourage a positive attitude. Make it a play. Serious play, but play nevertheless. Keep your voice under control (even when you feel different).
Share with the rest of the family the aim and structure of your plan, the achievements as they occur, the pride in your childs successes along the way.
I know that sometimes this is hard but by following a few simple rules you should end up enjoying this time more than youd expect.
9.Never use homework as punishment/Never bribe your child into doing his/her homework
We are often tempted to react to any misbehaviour with the famous Go to your room and do your homework. There are also parents who say: If you finish your homework in 30 minutes Im going to give you an ice-cream.
Think now that instead of that you would say: Go to your room and write a page about what you have done/think about what you have done (if the child can not write yet). You have 30 minutes for that. When the time is up I want you to come back here and tell me what your conclusion is. You will not be allowed to do your homework until you finish this. Keep in mind that the longer you take, the less time you will have for play this evening. Make sure you give them a watch/clock so they can follow the time.
Or think about the second scenario. After the homework is done you can say: You finished it in time now we have time for ourselves. I am going to have a cup of tea, would you like some or would you prefer an ice-cream?
10.Acknowledge your childs efforts and respond to mistakes instead of reacting.
When we are in this partnership with our child our most important goal is to have the child enjoy it because with enjoyment comes higher levels of positive response and stronger commitment.
People/Children are more interested and participate better in what they help create. Someone who is part of the planning stage will be more responsive than someone who will be told what to do because this is the plan.
Go ahead and tell your child what he/she should do to achieve something. Ask them what they think can be done, how can they make something fun, what support system do they need, etc. Discuss alternative plans, take the time to understand and give the child the time to see what the right action should be.
Parenting is a life long commitment. It is the hardest job and the most rewarding one. We worry, we hope, we ask ourselves thousands of questions, we succeed, we are afraid of failure and we dream of a future full of happiness for our children.
The only way to say to yourself that you have had a great career as a parent is if you know that you have been a proactive, positive, encouraging, loving, fair, objective partner in your life long partnership with your kids.
This way you will have beautiful memories to share and they will have the strength to build on what you help them develop, and take with them the skills they will need in turn for when they are called to teach, support and encourage their children.
As a business coach Ninive creates opportunities for her clients to design, build and implement winning marketing strategies. As a life coach Ninive works with people from all walks of life and helps them on their way to fulfilling their dreams, reaching their goals and live their hopes.