The school year for children is upon us. If you find your nervous energy gaining momentum stop and take a deep breath. I have some points you might want to utilize in your thoughts and parenting approaches to get the full benefit out of your parenting approaches to your children; and, in particular in respect to homework. Do not use the word grounding when your child spends a few week day nights procrastinating and comes misses deadlines for homework. The word grounding to a child means-“Prison”. My contention is that this parental approach is a breeding ground for power struggles, anger and resentment. And, this could pave the way for further homework refusal.
Do use a logical approach such as not allowing your child to spend time with friends on a Saturday until all their homework is completed.
Use a reward system when homework is completed for a week straight. For example, allow your child to stay up late on a Thursday and rent a movie of their choice from a Red Box. The thought of staying up late on school night will be cool to your child and they’ll want to do it again or earn the reward.
Do not rehash a bad week of homework not getting done. Blame likely exacerbates the problem and will shame and guilt your child into anger and behavior that opposes what you want for him or her.
Early in each semester talk about your expectations of your child in terms of grades and their expectations of themselves. If you want straight A’s and they want C’s then compromise and have him/her set a goal to attain B’s. Remember, if your goals and theirs goals do not match then it will difficult for both parties because an agreement has not been reached.
Do allow yourself to be generous with praise when your daughter or son turns in an assignment in a timely manner, gets a grade on a paper or test in line with the goals you and the child have set for that particular class.
Do remember to tell your child that you love them regardless of if she/he is an A student or D- student. Unconditional acceptance will foster a better parent child relationship in the end.
Ken Barrett, MSW, LCSW