Stepping Back and Lovin’ It – Part 2
The Homework Hassle
It’s September and the kids are back to school. While many of us couldn’t wait to return to a routine, how quickly we have gone from calm to chaos. Homework, sports and other extracurricular activities are in full-swing. Backpacks are strewn across our floors. The sound of school buses fill our streets and the helicopters have resumed hovering overhead. In case you missed it, that’s a metaphor for helicopter parents.
The term “helicopter parent” dates back to the 1980s and is defined as, “a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.”
It’s easy for parents to micromanage children’s schoolwork, especially when we witness frustration, procrastination or poor study habits. After all, we just want our children to succeed.
Yet, in order to raise strong, successful adults, we must allow our children to struggle. Earlier this month at parent night, my son’s 9th grade geometry teacher summed it up perfectly (no pun intended). He explained that math is about problem-solving. In order to learn, students must experience the process of “getting stuck” which includes working through the challenge as well as the discomfort. As he spoke, I realized the math metaphor can be applied to all challenges our children face in their lives.
We want our children to experience life’s challenges while they are living in our homes so that we can guide them through. So how do we ground those helicopters, relinquish control and guide our children during homework time?
Here Are 6 Tips To Help With The Homework Hassle
1. Ask Guided Questions
Be there to support and guide your children. Try to ask questions that encourage your kids to think on their own.
- How much time do you think you’ll need to complete tonight’s homework?
- Keep in mind that you have soccer practice at 7:00 and dinner is at 6:00.
- What do you think needs to be completed first?
- What ideas do you have to organize that paper?
Questions like these help children learn to manage their time, and most importantly, to think for themselves — all important skills needed to become adults who are self-reliant, responsible and resilient.
2. Show Empathy
Empathy goes a long way. When your child appears overwhelmed or is struggling with homework, empathize.
- I see that you’re overwhelmed. What do you think might help?
- I see why you feel frustrated right now
3. Help Manage Distractions
It’s ironic that as I write this, my 9th grader, who is doing homework in our office, keeps entering the kitchen to check his phone.
- Establish rules and limits around electronics and social media
- Establish rules around the space where homework is completed
- Establish rules around the time when homework is completed
- A hard and fast “shut down” rule works for some kids
“When and then” work well with younger children. For example:
“When all of your homework is completed, then you may watch TV.”
4. Praise The Effort Not The Outcome
Instead of focusing solely on grades, acknowledge traits such as hard work and determination, which will reinforce the skills that lead to success.
- You worked very hard on that project.
- Your paper is creative and well-structured.
5. Don’t Do Your Children’s Work For Them! (I’m just sayin’)
Sure, it’s tempting to do it for them to free them from the anguish. But, remember, when we do that, our kids miss the opportunity to learn how to work through challenges.
If the homework is too much or too difficult, refrain from contacting the teacher. First, encourage your child to speak to the teacher directly. (Responsibility!) If the issue is unresolved, then step in.
6. Natural Consequences
In some situations it’s best to rely on natural consequences. Without interfering, hovering, or punishing, allow the situation to unfold naturally:
- An assignment that is turned in late will result in a reduction in points.
- A child who doesn’t prepare for a test will receive a lower grade.
- A child who stays up too late doing homework will be tired the next day.
With the above tips, homework time need not mean battle time. Remember to strive for Shalom Bayit: peace in the home. Just imagine how peaceful our evenings will be without the noise of the hovering helicopters.
Stay tuned for part 3 of the Stepping Back and Lovin’ it series which covers social drama!
Amy Hertzberg has a Master’s in Social Work and is a Certified Professional Life Coach. She specializes in coaching women and parents. To learn more about Amy, AIM Parent Coaching and Aim Life Coaching, please visit www.amyhertzberg.com.