Ann Dolin: Hi! I am Ann Dolin and today we are talking about how to make homework a little bit easier for your child. Let's discuss issues surrounding the child who can be highly emotional at homework time.
These kids often have low frustration tolerance, which means that when tasks becomes difficult, they become very frustrated and often become highly emotional, battles ensue with parents.
Tears flow and they often shut down, refusing to do any further homework. These kids need a lot of positive encouragement and they need of lot of structure, so that they can be successful just as other students to get their work done. Kids that are emotional during homework time often have an underlying learning disability or an attentional issue. Things are difficult for them and they say its too hard because they truly believe it is. The work may be out of their scope or it may be within their ability but they consider it so incredibly hard, that they become easily frustrated.
Kids that are highly emotional during homework really feel that their assignments are incredibly overwhelming. They see them as big mountains to climb instead of taking every step at a time. As parents, we can help our kids feel less overwhelmed by breaking things down for them. So instead of giving them an entire worksheet to do and saying, Go at it, doing something as simple as folding it in half and having them complete just the top half first, take a break and then the second half; or having them do questions 1-5, giving them positive reinforcement, telling them they are doing a great job and then having them continue on.
So little bits as opposed to large pieces is often the key to working with emotional kids. They have to know the expectations upfront. Even something as simple as a math worksheet may feel overwhelming to an emotional child. Show them how you can highlight just the addition problems first. Go through the sheet and highlight the addition symbols, have them do just those problems first and then they can go back to do the subtraction problems.
It's just another way of breaking something down into little pieces. Set the timer for a shorter period of time. Let's say, your student has a 20 minute reading assignment, but you realize that they may not be able to sustain his focus for that long. Set the timer for 10 minutes and when it goes off, regroup, let him take a break for a just couple of minutes and then have them set it again for the other 10 minutes. But the more you can do to help your child take ownership over the process, the more your child will be eventually an independent learner.
Finally, one more tip is to use a mirror. Mirrors are great during homework time because kids can look-up, see that they are off-task and get started again. Studies have shown that mirror has not only increased on-task behavior, but also increased accuracy during the homework process.
If a child's behavior is unacceptable at homework time, consider a Token Economy System. This type of reward system is simple to implement. You list the expectations that you have for your child during homework. In my house, I work with my boys on four things. They require to show me the assignments that they have, get their homework done independently, show me their completed work, make corrections if necessary to that completed work and also they have to do it without complaining. We agree that I can give them up to 2 warnings, but after that they don't earn a point for behavior that is unacceptable. So they have a total of 4 points they can earn and each point is worth 15 minutes a video game time. So when their homework is done, they merrily cash-on their points for the time that they have earned. I found this to really take the emotion out of homework time. They are much more able to get through their work peacefully and much less likely to argue or to be dramatic about getting it all done.
Hopefully the ideas I shared with you will make homework a lot less stressful and and a lot more productive. Next, we are going to be talk about when to seek outside help.