Child's Attitude at Homework Time

Updated on October 28, 2010
T.G. asks from Monroe, LA
13 answers

Ok I know I am not alone but what should I do in my situation. I have a 10 year old child who is active and seems to always be on the move. Homwork time is a fight every night and it seems that it get worse. I am at the end of my rope. I am not one that agrees with medicine. His teachers say he is active in school that he has hard time sitting down in class but is very respectful when asked to sit down but he is normally up again in a few minutes. Homework time with me or anyone else who tries to help is a major problem he gets so upset the acts out throwing things, yelling, crying just seems to go crazy when asked to start doing his homework. He does not act this way about anything else except homework it is like he turns into this whole different child and I just do not know what to do and can do.

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So What Happened?

Well I am also one of those who do not believe in homework. It is a battle with the school about homework. I have made the same point about homework where it should be done at school and not sent home to the parents to do. Everyone has a different way of teaching and I may teach my child at home one way understand and then they go to school and learn something completely different and sometimes it confuses the child more. It has been a struggle with every child I know. I don't like the meds either I know someone suggested meds but that is not the answer I know some who has had great success with it but I know just as many who have horror stories.

I do the homework in short as little time as possible. It is like he is having an anxiety attack or something when he acts out. He has after school activities and I also let him play until the sun goes down because I agree that he has spent 8 hours trapped inside a classroom and needs to be a kid. So usually when I am starting dinner I have him sit at the table where I am close to help and listen. It is not like I have him do it alone. All I have to do is say the word “homework” and his attitude just changes. He hates it and says I don’t know what I am talking about when I try to explain. He says his teacher does not teach it to him the way I do. I mean even if his sister or anyone else helps it is the same response. This is one reason I don’t believe in homework. It is too many different ways of teaching. I was even taught different then some of the teaching that is going on now.

But the point is his attitude is just different when it is Homework time!!!!

And a big thanks to all of you that are giving me advise and suggestions!!! Thanks a lot!

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A.P.

answers from Florence on

I have lots of younger siblings who still live at home with my mom, and they are so great about doing their homework. My youngest brother actually was having problems at school with behavior, and he just kept getting punished. The problem was they just moved out here so he didn't have any friends, which is why he was acting out. He was trying to impress them, then he would get punished with silent lunch. This didn't help. Finally mom came up with a way to give him positive attention for his behavior and attitude at school AND home. She made "apples" that he can earn for not pulling a red card, for doing his homework, for reading 20 min., etc. Whatever he seems to have problems with, all she has to do is tell him he can earn an apple. After he gets so many apples he can trade them in for different things, like 20 min computer time, 1 hr personal nintendo time, a $3.00 toy of his choice, things that will motivate him to behave. It works like a charm. He hasn't had any other problems at school in a long time. Hope this helps!

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B.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi T., I posted this a while ago:
Homework, that is a HUGE debatable question.
SIDE 1: NO homework - kids spend 8 hours a day in school, let them come home and be a kids.
SIDE 2: 30 mins in grade 1-3 ~ 60 m ins 4-6 etc.

You as a parent get to decide. I will tell you what happens in my home and with my clients. I am on Side 1.

First, know that I am a retired school teacher and now a Family Success Coach. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN HOMEWORK FOR THE SAKE OF HOMEWORK. If a child did not finish their work at school because they were fooling around etc, then yes, homework is fine. But sending home work for the sake of sending home work is UNACCEPTABLE.

Imagine if at the end of your work day your boss walked up to you and said, “here you go, take an hour or 2 of work home with you” how would you feel?

Kids NEED to be kids. They get maybe about 4 hours with the parents in the evening, do you really want to spend that time working on/fighting about homework? What about spending quality time with them, maybe teaching them practical skills? Maybe your time is better spent on life skills, maybe cooking lessons, reading together, shopping lessons, drawing, being creative together etc.

Evenings are for moms. Be one. Don’t be the teacher they should have during the day.

IF YOU MUST do homework (and I believe in studying) here are some suggestions:BEAT THE COMMERCIAL – works for math facts, definition, vocabulary almost everything.
Your child has to watch one hour of regular TV (you know the kind with commercials). You write the facts on cue cards (question on front answer on back) then place them ON TOP of the TV.
Each commercial she gets up from the couch and tries to get through them before the show is back on.
If she gets it right, it goes in a pile on the right, if it is wrong it goes on the left. Once the show starts put the cards back on the TV and go sit down.
The object is to get through all the flashcards correctly during the commercial break.
**FYI the brain is constantly processing the info during the TV show. TV is a very passive event, so the brain looks for stimulation elsewhere. If you are feeding your brain info every 15 mins, the brain ABSORBS that info much more readily.

HOUSE OF CARDS
Please cue cards all over the house (4 X 6 = 24 – the full fact). On the fridge, walls, bathroom mirror, door, everywhere. Her brain will automatically read the facts as she is walking around the house doing regular stuff. Every week you have to move the facts around otherwise the brain starts seeing them as “background” and dismisses it as unimportant.

MATH WAR
You need a deck of cards.
Deal out the entire deck to 2 people.
You both lay out 2 cards each.
Multiply them and highest number wins the cards.
Object, win all the cards.
**Variation: addition and subtraction war works too.

READING GAMES
**Please note that kids will read what interests them. You will have to work with her to find what interests her.

BACKWARDS DAY
Pick up a comic book or something that she likes to read and start at the back page. Read from the last word to the first without giggling. **For more fun, try reading the words backwards. **This shows that reading can be fun and what your child won’t know is you are actually training her brain to see whole words and to decipher meaning from context.

KARAOKE
Yes this is reading! If you have Wii you can get a Karaoke game.

DON’T FORGET THE LYRICS
Go on line, find a fav song and print the lyrics.
Cut some key phrases out of the song and have her fill them in. First just by memory, second by listening to the song. **This activates both quadrants of the brain and will actually increase her reading speed.

I have many more games, but these few will get you started. If you need anything else, keep my contact ([email protected]____.com) and connect with me. My mission in life is to empower families to live a healthier lifestyle, to teach them how to play more, and to inspire them to live a life of their dreams while creating independent financial freedom. Anything I can do to help you would be my pleasure.

B.
Family Success Coach

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P.O.

answers from Harrisburg on

I don't remember many kids his age liking homework. But does homework for him have to be sitting down - especially after sitting down all day. Maybe try getting him to work out his energy first before starting homework. Secondly, sit with him to do the homework if not already doing so. Also make the assignment creative. Sing the multiplication tables, etc, walk around and give him examples from games he play, etc, and just keep encouraging him versus making it more of a chore. Good luck

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C.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

He sounds like he has a focusing issues like my 10 yr old. I would see if the doctor can try Ritalin for him or a similar med. It has worked wonders for my son. We give it to him before breakfast. He was always smart but was consistently the last child from kindergarten to third grade to go on the next task in a class room setting. His school confidence improved. His grades improved. Now the med is starting to wear off by the time he returns from school. He usually starts his homework as soon as he walks in the door. Anyhow please feel free to ask me anything. Take care, C.

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A.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

I always acted this way at homework time. Looking back, I think that I was afraid that I couldn't do it. That I was too dumb and someone was going to realize it any minute. It was just too overwhelming to me so I would just give up right away.

If you think this may be the case for your son as well, my advice is to try to break his homework down into manageable pieces. If he has a worksheet full of math problems, have him do five. Then move on to something else, get a little bit done, take a break, then do five more problems. Be very encouraging, do your best not to get annoyed or frustrated. Just keep telling him "I know you can do this. Just focus on these five problems. That's all I want you to think about. You said you couldn't do it yesterday and yet, you DID. You CAN do this." and sit with him to keep him focused.

If you can afford it (I know I couldn't, but some people can) hire a tutor that specializes in ADD kids, they may have strategies to get them to learn easier.

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't know if there's anything else going on with him--I'm not a doctor, butI know in our house, if homework is done before dinner it's easy peasy lemon squeezy. If we wait til evening---BAD IDEA. 15 minutes of work turns into an hour. Maybe he's overly tired when he's doing it? Just a thought. Good luck!

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M.L.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Is it the homework itself, or is it having to buckle down and sit for a long period of time?

If it's the sitting, can you try letting him study in shifts? Let him play for a few minutes when he gets home; then set a timer for fifteen minutes for him to study. Then give him ten or fifteen minutes to run around, and another fifteen minutes for homework. It sounds a little crazy, but perhaps if he has a chance to get up and move he can concentrate a little better later on.

Of course, he really has to study during the time he should be studying, and if he has a problem understanding any of his work he needs to let you know.

"Work before play" is a great principle, but maybe being active isn't "play" for your son - maybe it's a need. So if short spurts help him to get the work done, it may be the route to go.

A friend once told me that as a kid he learned his spelling words better shouting them to himself on the playground than sitting down at his desk and staring at the book. Hmmm... another creative study practice for an active person?

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S.R.

answers from Tulsa on

Have you tried giving him Omega 3 supplements? It worked like a charm for my boy but make sure it's a good quality one 1000mg salmon oil per day (check the source - it must NOT come from a "fish farm"). I also discovered that my son needed glasses! Have you had his eyes checked? Once My boy was on supplements and started wearing glasses things improved tremendously. My son is also very easily bored and particularly resistant to doing anything that he doesn't see the benefit of! I suggest you break "homework time" into small time chunks - like 10 mins then a 5 min break and slowly increase the time. Also try and explain to him WHY the "stupid exercise" he has to do will help him when he's older! It DOES get better! Just try not to make it a "battle of wills" - I actually changed tack with my kid altogether and told him "I'm here. If you'd like help with your homework, call me." The first day he got into trouble for not having done his homework and I explained to him that there are consequences for the choices we make, so he could either do his homework or deal with the punishment from his teacher. He's nearly 18 now - we haven't had homework problems since then! Good luck!! :) Btw - his behaviour probably indicates that he's a very bright boy! :)

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D.F.

answers from Boston on

I think doing homework at night stinks, he is tired at this time and the last thing he wants to do is homework. In our house its always been as soon as you come home ....get a 15 min break with snack .......then homework. If home work is not done at this time. My son cannot watch, play, any thing on tv. No going out side, no sports. Homework is first. And if he gave me a hard time he would be grounded from everything.....this means no yelling, throwing or crying. If your son is in fifth grade, check to see if your school offers an after school homework club. My son did this and it was great. Now in sixth grade he has tons of HW. and it is done when he gets home.

I would sit down and talk to your son and tell him that you have a new schedule for HW. Tell him the rules. Then try it out. I would not let him get away with any disrespect. Good luck momma!

A.J.

answers from Dallas on

My 8 yr old has ADHD that is unmedicated - I am treating it with diet and teaching him "tricks" to manage it on his own.
First of all - ADHD in itself is metabolic and emotional. He are ways to make sure he is physically able to concentrate:

Cut out refined sugars 2 hours before you want him to do his homework.
Feed that boy low glycemic, high calorie, vitamin B rich foods an hour and then again 15 minutes before homework time. Make sure he's gotten some exercise as well (preferably between the hour and 15 minute snacks) I know this goes against the "no playing before homework" rule every good parent has, but in your son's case - this may be metabolically working against you and him both.

Ok, now you have to address the emotional aspect of this - homework has become a nightmare to him and the stress associated with not being able to concentrate and being forced to makes him feel like every time he gets his pencil out he is being set up to fail. Make homework time a calm routine - don't juggle it around dinners and soccer and everything else you have to do - this needs to happen at the same time in the same place every single night. Let him know that changing his eating and play schedule the way you have has given him an edge he didn't have before and it will now be easier for him. Turn off all noise, electronic stuff, tv, etc in the house and let the other adults or kids read books or color so that he cannot get distracted. YOU MUST sit with him and offer help, without criticism OR giving him the answers for at least the first 2 weeks of this routine. After that, you can stay close by but not at the table because he will have developed the skills he needs to keep himself focused.

Your role in sitting with him is to help him focus and enjoy what he is doing:
Do:
Get him to THINK: Ask socratic questions when he is stuck: Why do you think the author is telling you this actor was an orphan? What if you try to solve the math problem by using whole numbers and subtract the difference? Do you have notes that explain how to solve this equation? Let's look at the book and see if it can give you the answer? You know what, the way your teacher wants you to figure out this formula is different from how I learned, our brains work the same way, would you like me to teach you my method?

Teach him COPING SKILLS: ADHD kiddos have a hard time reading an entire chapter and then answering questions so my son will read the questions first and then keep those questions in mind when he is reading, usually going back and answering a question before he forgets it or get becomes overwhelmed.
If he is fidgeting, get up without talking and bring him a glass of water and small snack - tell him once he finishes that you guys can complete his homework together and get it out of the way so he can enjoy the rest of his evening.
Remember to emphasize that when things aren't working you need to find new solutions, even if they aren't the solutions everyone else uses. To be happy, healthy and successful in life, you MUST find out what works best for YOU.
Help him to FOCUS: Gently remind him that if one part of his homework is stressing him out that he can move on to an easier section and just come back to that one later. Encourage him to take a few minutes to breath and tell you what he liked or didn't like about the assignment he just finished so that he can "let it go" and be ready to focus on the next page. If math stresses him out and he moves on to english, then that unresolved tension can carry over and make it hard for him to feel confident about what he is doing.
Stay positive and easy going.

DO NOT:
Give him the answers, this only hurts him.
Repeatedly verbally remind him to FOCUS or SIT STILL, this is no more effective than screaming BREATHE! to someone having an asthma attack. It will only escalate the stress and get you both into emotional corners.

Disobedience is not an option so do NOT allow him to throw, scream, fight you, etc. By this, I mean don't give in and scream or hit back - simply, calmly tell him he must immediately go to his room to avoid a mush worse punishment and after he calms down you will discuss options with him,

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N.L.

answers from Dallas on

My daughter is 8 and very active. She has a hard time sitting still also But for me it was setting a daily routine with her homework. I dont' know what your schedule is like, but I get off work in time to pick up both my kids(1yr old boy also) right after school. So we are usually home by 3-3:30. When we get home she is usually starving so I give her a healthy meal. I say meal cuz we do not eat dinner until 6:30 or 7 so I noticed if I only gave her a snack she'd be bugging me again in an hour. So I usually give her something more substantial that can fill her up for he next 3 hrs. Then I let her watch TV or play outside until 4 or 4:15. Then its homework time. She comes to the Kitchen table to do homework while I get dinner going. That way I am right there to help keep her focused and am able to help her if needed. I found that having the routine, left her no room to argue. She never argues w/me about turning the TV off at 4pm to start homework buecuz she knows thats the rule. Once her work is done she usually has a chore to do then she gets to play again. I dont' know if your boy has reading to do each day like mine does, but I use the last 20 or 30 mins. before bedtime as her quiet time for reading! It seems to work well for us. Also make sure he is getting proper tutoring if he is behind in any subjects. If a child does not understand basic math concepts then they will hate doing math homework. Be consistent and do not let him get away with tantrums and bad attitude. If my daughter gets a bad attitude then she goes to time-out(yes I still use time-outs on my 8 yr old becuz she hates them so much they are effective!). Good luck if that doesn't help try talking to his doctor or teacher for further advice!

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A.H.

answers from Fort Smith on

I know you've gotten alot of great responses, but I just wanted to add a couple of things that might help. Find Spark from Advicare, It's all natural and is the BEST at helping someone focus. I used it when I was taking a class to get my insurance license, I passed the test on my first try. It has been used to help kids with ADD and ADHD. I agree, I am totally against medicating a child and it seems like our school district is famous for getting as many kids as they can medicated. But it does sound like he needs a change. Also get a book called TO TRAIN UP A CHILD be Michael Pearle. It changed our lives. It will show you some training technices that will help him be able to focus better and sit still. I have been through it but not with my child. I baby sat my friends boy when he got suspended from school, a 6 year old. When I've babysat him before he would do some school like worksheets that I've printed up, but the day I had him when he was suspended we had to go over his spelling words because he had a test the next day. He threw a fit and was in tears not wanting to do it. Never did that before, but this was different because it was from school. I believe it was because of all of the problems he has had, getting in trouble and maybe something else that when we had to do something school related all of those bad feelings came back. Not sure, not a psyciatrist, but thats what makes sense to me. Maybe another thing to look at if it's possible is homeschooling. I've decided to homeschool and it's been great. We have our goood day, and bad days but over all it is sooooo much better. I don't think that for a young child that it's good for them to be stuck inside constantly doing work for 7 hours a day. We are able to get all of my sons work done in about 3-4 hours, including breaks. Maybe he's just overwhelmed. If you do though, I would suggest taking a break for a while with no work so he understands that it will be different and won't associate home school with regular school. Good luck to you.

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K.B.

answers from Chicago on

I have a 10 year old boy as well so I can relate. One thing that works for us-homework must be completed immediately after school. Well, I give him a 30 minute break for snack and some tv time and then it's homework time. If he fights starting the homework, then no 30 minute break the next day before homework. After a couple of days of doing this, you son might realize that it is just easier to sit down and do it and get it over with. Then he can play until bedtime. If you are waiting until after dinner to start homework, your son is probably just too tired.

Another thought...could he be struggling in school and avoiding homework because it is too difficult? Try sitting with him to get him started. Go over his agenda and discuss his assignments. Make sure he understands what he is supposed to do. Be near but don't sit with him as he completes his assignments.

You could also try a timer. Set it for 15 minutes. 15 mins of snack/down time then 15 mins of homework time. Might work since your son is so active.

Finally, if you know he is not struggling and continues to choose not to do his homework, let him. Please remember, this is your son's homework and his responsibility to get it done. Not yours! Explain to him that he will have to discuss with the teacher why his homework is not completed and suffer the consequences. It is okay to let him fail. I find when I back off, my kids take more ownership of their work. Their failures become their own. But their success become their own as well.
Good luck!

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