How to Handle Homework Resistance Like a Pro

You’ve tried everything – bribes, threats, rewards – and your child still has a meltdown when it’s time for homework. Use these tips to reduce homework resistance and solve those homework battles once and for all!

How to handle homework resistance with kids

The math packet is due tomorrow.

He’s had 4 days to work on it.

He’s done nothing.

You’re panicking. With baseball practice tonight, there’s no way he’s going to get it done before 11:00. And, if he doesn’t turn it in, he’s going to miss recess, which means he’ll probably disrupt the class and get another detention.

He’s resisting. While he can’t verbalize it, he’s feeling stressed and overwhelmed. He regrets not doing it sooner, but he hates math and would do pretty much anything to avoid trying to figure out what all those numbers mean.

This battle is familiar. It’s the same one you’ve had for the past three years.

No amount of sticker charts or taking away video games has made a bit of difference.

What now?

How to Handle Homework Resistance

  • Focus on you: Before the next homework battle, take a minute to think about your own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and fears about your child. How does their school performance affect you? Where do you lack confidence? Where are you panicking? Notice what goes through your mind when you think about your child’s homework. Don’t judge yourself. Be kind regardless of what comes up. It’s all helpful information.
  • Dig for the why: There are many reasons a child may resist doing homework. Rather than making assumptions, get curious. Listen for cues, ask questions, focus on understanding which things are challenging and what makes them difficult. Things like fine motor skills, processing speed, and learning style can all impact homework resistance.
  • Time of day matters: Some children can come home from school and head right into homework, others need time to decompress from the day before they begin. Some children work better in the morning, while others have a rush of energy in the evening. Rather than forcing homework, tune in to their energy level and be aware of their reserves.
  • Brainstorm together: There may not be a magic solution that makes homework a joyful experience for your child, but there may be a few things that would make this a less painful experience for everyone. Continue to talk about and explore your child’s unique needs. Discuss different ways to complete homework, making a plan, and reviewing it periodically.
  • Know your role: It’s normal to want to rescue your child when they are struggling. (See tip #1) Your “help” may keep them from failing, but it also may keep them from learning. Each child will need a different level of support, experiment with ways you can encourage without being overbearing, help without doing, or listen without fixing.
  • Get help: We can’t expect our kids to suddenly know how to organize notes, study effectively, hold a pencil correctly, or manage perfectionism without additional guidance. If you’ve tried a few solutions and your child is still struggling, it may be time to seek additional support. An educational, learning or processing assessment, Occupational Therapy, or Mental Health Therapy may be the next right step.

Solving the homework battle

The word “homework” has a long history full of assumptions, strongly held beliefs, and a hefty amount of stress (for kids…and parents!). Like everything in parenting, I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach to homework. If homework is a constant burden in your home, it’s definitely a sign that you need to step back and evaluate the situation.

I’ve known extremely accommodating teachers who are willing to work together with families to create a learning plan that meets the child’s needs and eliminates the homework battle. I’ve also known children who had a specific reason they resisted homework – vision problems, for example. Once this problem was solved, the battles subsided.

But, the starting point for all homework battles is to get rid of the assumptions that your child is “lazy” or “wants to fail” and start being genuinely empathetic and curious.

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If you need additional support, let’s talk! I offer one-on-one Parent Coaching sessions to help you find solutions to homework challenges – and any other parenting difficulty that comes your way! Click here to learn more.

Nicole Schwarz (couch 3)

Welcome! I'm Nicole Schwarz.

I'm a Parent Coach, Licensed Therapist and Author of It Starts with You. I help stressed, overwhelmed, confused parents find calm, confidence and connection with their kids. No one is expecting perfection here. But, if you’re willing to examine your parenting, find encouragement, or try something new, this is the place for you.

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