When discussing children at dinner parties and get-togethers, one big winner topic that is almost always discussed is the ‘homework issue’. Parents are constantly looking for magic formulas that will make their children complete their homework magically without any reminders and hassles. Has this been on your wish list too? Stop for a few moments and consider this: Our children wake up at an ungodly hour to get dressed for school. They travel to school and spend hours there learning, completing handouts, participating in quizzes, preparing for exams. They make the journey back home and are usually instructed to shower, change and have their lunches. Before they even get off the lunch tables, the inevitable reminder hangs in the air….like a mantra…….do your homework, do your homework, do your homework, study, study, study!
I was discussing childhood with a friend over coffee the other day and we both concluded that children of this generation do not have much of a childhood. In fact, with the numerous demands they face, they are leading the life of an adult. It’s sad that the world is moving at a pace where children have to think and behave as adults and we do not realize sometimes; that these young children need more guidance and support to manage their lives rather than discipline, order and instruction from us parents.
A true tug-of-war has two people participating; in this case you and your child. A typical scenario is when you force or remind your child to do his homework and he procrastinates or delays doing it. An argument usually follows and you have a no-win situation. Try converting this to a win-win situation where you don’t fall out with your child, have a healthy relationship with him and get homework done? All without screaming battles, increased blood pressure and slamming of doors. Sounds too good to be true? With a bit of patience and creativity on your part, it’s actually possible.
If you are able to recognize your child’s type, it becomes easier to manage him. Is he a procrastinator? One who finds 151 things to do before doing his homework and then rushing through it sloppily? Or is he a perfectionist, who thinks whatever he does will not be good enough so why bother? Or do you have a disorganized child who cannot get things done because he does not know how to? Or is your child an underachiever who thinks everything is too hard or he’s just not smart enough?
We often give out labels to our children very easily – lazy, dumb, not bothered without realizing what their real problem is. You may need to play detective with your procrastinator….talk to him, his teacher and determine the real reasons behind not wanting to do his work. He may have poor study or planning skills, may be disorganized or anxious and angry about something. Once you have determines the problem, help your child by setting realistic goals he can meet and come up with a mutually agreeable homework time-table (huge stress on the ‘mutually agreeable’ part). Your perfectionist and underachiever need a lot of encouragement and praise for the effort they put in. Your disorganized child probably needs a reasonably quiet, efficient workspace. He may need to be taught how to organize homework materials, how not to lose track of time and how to gather information. If you’re always supplying the information, giving study reminders, or rushing that forgotten paper to school, you defeat the whole purpose of homework and the child never gains the confidence to do these things himself.