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December 4, 2013

The Daily Parent: How to avoid the homework wars


It is easier to let this happen to a younger child than an older one whose grades increasingly matter, so as soon as you feel your child is ready, give both of you the gift of letting natural consequences take their course. There are no guarantees that your child will stop procrastinating/not doing the work, but the odds of your child internalizing that this is not parent-homework, but kid-homework, do improve if you don’t get sucked into being too hands-on.

4. Allow your child to experience the authentic pride in a job well done. If parents help too much with homework, kids are robbed of a primary benefit, which is the satisfaction of learning and accomplishing something on their own. Kids who receive too much academic support sometimes learn to feel helpless, and remain overly reliant on adult support well into high school and often beyond. Kids grow into more capable and confident adults when they are allowed to succeed and fail on their own terms.

This is not to say that you should never help your child with homework, just that you should pay attention and notice if your child has a knee-jerk dependence on you when the work becomes the slightest bit challenging. In those moments, “I know you can do it” goes a lot further than, “Here, let me see it.” The sooner you deliver this message, the easier on everyone.

If you are already trapped in this cycle, breaking it will take time and patience, but can be done through careful planning and perseverance. If your child really needs significant extra help, or does not receive guidance well from parents, obtain a professional tutor or seek advice from the school. This allows you to stay only lightly involved, while remaining supportive.

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