Category Archives: Homework Battles

Strategies for Avoiding The Homework Battles

Homework. Just the sight of that word is enough to make some parents weep with frustration.

One of the most frequent issues that arise in parenting counseling is the afternoon battle over homework. There is usually a vicious cycle at play: your child procrastinates about getting started, you start nagging, and your child becomes overwhelmed and shuts down.

It might help to remind yourself that there is actually a reason for doing homework. Homework gives your child a chance to practice what she has learned in school. Further, homework helps children develop age-appropriate discipline and independence with respect to schoolwork.

But what often happens is that the kids who need the most practice have the hardest time completing homework. Parents should never assume that a child who resists homework is just “lazy.” Children inherently want to do well in school and they generally want to please their parents. If you know that your child has the intellectual potential to work independently yet says that he “hates school” or “hates reading” you might want to explore having your child evaluated for the presence of an attention or learning issue.

For children with learning challenges, doing homework is like going on a hike with 20 pound weights around your ankles and big blisters on your heels. It is possible, but painful and difficult. So of course your child will look for ways to postpone such a painful and discouraging task.

So, what to do? Appreciate that homework is frustrating for your child and put into place a plan that will help your child learn to work through frustration and develop self-discipline.

A Homework Plan:

1. Set aside a time for homework that works for your family. For most kids, they do not want to do homework after doing school work for eight hours. Afterschool is a time for hobbies and exploring possible new interests in sports, dance, art, robotics, cooking – whatever your child enjoys. Try having homework time after dinner or while dinner is cooking to see if that works better for your child.

 2. Choose a spot for homework that works for your child and family. Some kids like to be at the kitchen table while others prefer a desk in their room. Parents should be available to help, offer encouragement, and answer questions.

3. Talk with your child’s teacher about the expected length of homework time. If your child is unable to finish in the expected time frame, have him write a note to the teacher that states he worked for the amount of time and note the assignments he was able to complete. This information is helpful for your child’s teacher to see how long it takes your child to do homework and determine if modifications need to be made.

 4. Begin with a reasonable amount of work time. If your child can only focus for 10 minutes and then needs a break, then that is the starting time. Try 15 minutes the next week and support your child as they gradually become able to focus for longer amounts of time. If your child needs frequent breaks, try to work up to 20 minutes of work followed by a five minute break.

5. Choose your words carefully. Instead of “if you don’t do your homework you won’t be able to…” try a language of opportunities like, “as soon as you finish your homework we will have a chance to play a quick game of Jenga!”

Some more tips: acknowledge all efforts, no matter how small. Provide positive and frequent encouragement. Praise effort not innate ability. Do not compare to siblings who may have an easier time doing homework.

It isn’t always easy to stay calm when your child is melting down about homework. If you would like to talk further about ways to avoid the homework battles, please call me at 310-849-6751 or email me at I am here to help!

Best,                                                                                                                                                                               Jeri


Tips For Helping Your Child Develop A Homework Routine

I had the pleasure of speaking at the CHADD San Fernando Valley Parent Support Group on Wednesday, February 28, held at Bridges Academy. This group is warm, lovely, inclusive, and a wonderful resource for parents of children who are challenged with ADD/ADHD. For more information about CHADD, visit

Below are the strategies and tips I shared for helping children and teens go from a hot moment to a cool calm during a very challenging time of the day: afternoon homework.

Creating a Homework Routine: For kids and teens with ADD/ADHD, their feelings about doing homework can be compared to how you might feel if you are running a 5K with a huge blister on the back of your heel. It is possible to complete the 5K,  but it will be very painful. Because homework can feel so challenging, it is understandable that your child will look for any way possible to avoid this painful task.

If you can face this daily event with the knowledge that regardless of the amount or type of homework, your child will likely face it with anxiety and frustration. Remind yourself that your child does want to succeed; if they could do it, they would do it. Developing a workable homework routine is important because it will help your child learn to work through frustration, develop tolerance, and self-discipline. 

#1) Set aside a specified time for homework . This can be whatever time works for you and your family life. But also set a time for when homework is over. Talk with your child’s teacher and get a time estimate for how long the homework should take your child. If the teacher says that your child should complete his homework in one hour, then one hour is the limit. Whatever doesn’t get done goes back to school with a note from you, or your child depending on the age. The note states, “My child worked on homework for one hour and was not able to complete this last math worksheet” or “My child tried his best but was unable to complete this assignment independently.” This is important as it communicates to your child’s teacher what your child is able to complete and also advocates for your child. It also models for your child that you value family time, you value the need for every person to have some down time, and that your child’s health and welfare is more important.

#2) After school, set aside time for a snack and some physical exercise, playtime, or after school fun activity.

#3) Determine if your child finds doing homework in their room to be effective, or if they prefer doing it at the kitchen table with you nearby. Parents can be available to help, offer encouragement, and answer questions. But homework is to be done independently. If you find that you are actually teaching your child concepts or information, you need to communicate that to your child’s teacher. Help your child learn to prioritize tasks by asking them what aspect of homework is the most challenging for them. Then have them do that task first and then do the more enjoyable tasks last. If your child has a long term project, you can help them to mark the due date on a calendar and then help your child breakdown the tasks needed to complete the project on time. 

#4) When homework is done, it is done! Your child is free to play or relax until bedtime.

#5) Begin with a reasonable – and doable – amount of time for homework for YOUR child. If your child is unable to work for 20 minutes, then start with 10 minutes. Try 15 minutes in two weeks. Acknowledge every bit of effort, no matter how small.

#6) Give your child time. A homework routine takes time to establish. Acknowledge to your child that you see how difficult homework is for her so explain that you are going to put in place some structure to provide support.

#7) Try behavioral momentum. If your child really resists homework, make sure it doesn’t follow a fun activity like a computer game. Try to transition from a fun activity like soccer practice to something less enjoyable, but less difficult, than homework. For example, when you arrive home from a fun after school activity, ask your child to refresh your dog’s water dish or to go get the mail. This is called “Behavioral momentum” and it means getting your child to do an easy task before asking her to do a challenging task. Resistance is less likely if momentum of compliance is built in first.

If you would like to talk more about assisting your child with creating a homework routine, or any other challenging issue you are facing, please call me at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at I am here to help!

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                          Jeri


6 Strategies to Reduce Homework Anxiety

Most students dislike doing homework but will do it begrudgingly. Students who struggle with anxiety may feel intense apprehension about homework which often manifests itself in an inability to begin homework, to complete homework, or spending hours trying to do it perfectly.

                             6 Strategies To Help Reduce Homework Anxiety

1. Talk with your child about his or her fears, and offer reassurance of support and that you will help to find solutions to this situation.

2. Communicate frequently with your child’s teacher. Teachers are very familiar with students feeling anxious about homework and will be able to provide assistance. Keep up to date with what homework and projects that are assigned so that you can be proactive in your support of your child.

3. Do your best to stay calm when your child does not want to do homework. Be kind but firm, and offer to provide help and support. Remember that anxiety is exhausting for your child as well as very frustrating. 

4. Decide with your child where the homework space will be and make it comfortable and special.

5. Establish a consistent homework routine. Predictability is an excellent antidote for anxiety and stress. Be aware that you are a role model and try to engage in activities such as reading, writing or paying bills to send your child the message that “work time” isn’t just for kids.

6. When the homework is completed, reward your child with praise, time spent with you, a special TV show, etc.

Homework issues are a very common source of parenting stress. If you would like to talk about assisting your child to reduce their anxiety about homework or another stress-inducing aspect of life, I’m here to help! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                  Jeri