How To Get Kids To Listen Without Yelling

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How to Get Your Kids to Do Their Homework

Four Methods:

Parents around the world would love the magic formula to encourage kids to do their homework. Alas, it's not as simple as waving a wand, but there are some methods for encouraging your kids to develop and stick to a regular homework routine. For some parents, effective encouragement will also be about changing your own approach to homework enforcement. Don't worry, it's not hard, it's just about taking a moment to work it through. Create a homework space and schedule, establish clear expectations, rewards, and consequences, and approach homework positively.


Creating a Homework Space and Schedule

  1. Pick a quiet spot.Create a quiet place for your children to do their homework. Keep distractions, like television and music, away from this area. Try to reduce the amount of people coming and going in this area, and keep younger children away from older ones who are trying to study.
  2. Set up a separate space for each child.To keep bickering and distractions to a minimum, find separate spots for your children to do their homework. You could set up a spot in the kitchen and also one in the living room, or have your children do their homework in their own bedrooms.
  3. Make homework a technology-free time.Create a rule that states homework time will be technology-free to keep your kids from texting or tweeting when they should be studying. Make an exception when your child needs to use a computer for research or to type an assignment.
  4. Ensure all necessary materials are available.Provide pencils, pens, rulers, calculators, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. You may want to get a container to hold these items so they can easily be brought out when needed, and put away if necessary.
    • For example, if your kids do their homework at the dinner table, unpack the box to give them access to their supplies when it’s time to do homework. Pack up the box and move it off the table when they’re finished.
  5. Make a schedule for completing homework.Creating a routine will help your children know what to expect. You may want to allow them to have a break between the time that school ends and the time they need to start their homework. For example, allow them to spend one hour doing activities of their choice after school before doing homework.
    • Allow your kids to have a say in creating the schedule. If they feel like their opinions have been heard and considered, they’re more likely to stick to the plan.
    • Agree on homework-free times, such as Friday nights or one weekend day, and allow them to plan how they use this free time.
  6. Allow your children to take a break, if needed.Rather than forcing them to complete an assignment when they’re already frustrated with it, let your kid take a ten-minute break. That way, they can come back to the assignment refreshed and ready to find a new perspective on the problem.

Establishing Expectations, Rewards, and Consequences

  1. Establish clear expectations.Your children need to know what’s expected of them in regard to homework. Sit them down and discuss what you expect, such as a rule that everything gets turned in on time, or that 90% of their homework needs to receive a C grade or higher. It's important that you set boundaries, be consistent, and stand by your expectations.
  2. Use praise to achieve intrinsic motivation.Praising work done well is a great way to get your child to be intrinsically motivated. Intrinsic motivation is about doing things because they make you feel proud, rather than doing them because you get an external reward.
    • Occasional rewards for a special project done really well can be a great boost but regular material rewards are best avoided.
    • When your child does their homework, tell them that you are really proud of them for being organized, timely, proactive, etc. It is important to define the exact reason why you are proud so that they know what to keep up.
  3. Avoid using bribes.Bribing is the ultimate demotivating strategy because any kid who associates completing homework with an allowance increase or new toy learns to do the activity for material gain rather than internal gratification or for greater understanding.
  4. Ignore poor behavior rather than giving attention to it.Giving your child extra attention, even if it’s negative attention, when they don’t do something they should (or when they do something they shouldn’t) actually reinforces that behavior. When your kids don’t do their homework, or if they pitch a fit about doing it, stay calm. Don’t engage in a yelling match or let your emotions get the best of you.
    • Keep your message simple, reminding your kids what you have agreed upon together when discussing how they'd approach homework and expressing both disappointment and a hope to see things return to normal the next day.
  5. Make homework your children’s responsibility, rather than your own.This may seem difficult, especially in a time when many parents feel a sense of self-responsibility about homework, but it's absolutely vital that your child learns as early as possible that homework is their responsibility, not yours. Let your child keep track of their assignments and materials rather than doing it for them.
    • For example, if your child forgets their homework or books at school, don’t spend hours tracking down a maintenance worker to let you into the building so you can retrieve their forgotten items. If they can find a way to get them, great, and if not, they’ll have to suffer the consequences.
  6. Let the kids deal with the consequences of not doing their homework.Refrain from calling or emailing your child’s teacher to make excuses or request extra time. Though it may seem difficult, it’s best that your child learns that they are responsible for their own work and they will have to deal with the consequences of their actions.
    • Naturally, if you have a child with learning or other disabilities, you may need to adjust this hands-off approach. Don't be afraid to seek support from professional people skilled in your child's particular disability; they may be able to provide you with additional strategies.

Approaching Homework Positively

  1. Make peace with the reality that most kids don't like doing homework.When there are many other interesting things happening, especially in our electronic gadget age, it's hard to make homework seem appealing. As a parent or guardian responsible for your children’s education, focus on getting the kids to complete their homework, rather than trying to convince them it’s fun.
    • You should still keep a positive attitude toward homework. Don’t agree with your kid when they say, “Homework sucks. I wish I didn’t have to do it.” Instead, reply with something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but once you finish your homework you can invite a friend over.”
  2. Find a new name for homework.Talk about homework in terms that suggest it's about learning and growing, not about work. Every kid's ears prick up at the mention of "work." A little trick to sidestep this in your household, and no matter what school is referring to it as, is calling it something like "home learning," "brain boosting," or even just plain old "study."
  3. Explain the benefits of education.Talk to your kids about the importance of homework, and how a good education can benefit them throughout their lives. Explain to them that as an adult, you make more money if you have more education. Ask them what careers they’d be interested in, and explain the type of education necessary for each.
    • For example, if your child wants to be a marine biologist, tell them that they’ll need good grades in school to get into a college where they can earn a degree in biology, zoology, or ecology.
    • For example, tell your would-be actor that they won’t be able to memorize their lines if they’re not a stellar reader. Encourage them to read and memorize parts of their textbook for practice.
  4. Turn homework into a game.Many children find homework boring or unrelatable. Do your best to make it fun, such as putting math problems in terms of sweets or money. Create visuals to help them learn the periodic table, or make collectible cards (like baseball cards) for vocabulary words. You could also have a spelling bee at home, or host a math tournament to practice the times tables.

Altering Your Own Involvement

  1. Be a facilitator rather than a force to be reckoned with.You can plead, yell, threaten, and bribe your children, but none of this negative and mutually exhausting behavior willmakeyour kids do anything. Instead, aim to facilitate the homework process as much as possible so that each day’s homework time goes smoothly.
  2. Encourage your child to inform you about their homework progress.Don’t ambush your child with tons of questions about their homework the minute school lets out. Instead, encourage them to tell you what they need to do each day when it’s homework time. Let them know you’d also love to hear any interesting facts that arise out of their assignments.
  3. Help your child figure out what is hard and what is easy homework.Talk about your child’s assignments each night and help them determine what will be the most challenging. Have your child do the hard work first so they’ll be most alert when facing the biggest challenges, and leave the easy stuff for the end.
  4. Find out if there are specific areas they're having difficulties with.Discuss the different subjects your child is taking and find out which they enjoy and excel at, and which they may have more trouble understanding or completing. For the difficult subjects, ask them if they would like to consider having more hands-on help with those issues (from you, a sibling, or a tutor, for example).
  5. Be engaged, but not overly so.If homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away. Being overly involved in helping your child with homework, for example, may prevent your child from actually learning from the assignment. Allow your child's homework to help them learn independently, a skill they'll value throughout their life. Be available in case they need your help, but don’t stand over their shoulders while they complete assignments.
  6. Do your own “homework” at the same time your kids do theirs.To help inspire your children to complete their homework, one neat trick is to do some homework of your own to show your child that you're being responsible and completing essential chores too. You'll serve as a great example to your child, showing them that the same things they're learning are directly related to what you do as an adult. If your child is reading, grab a book or the newspaper and read next to them. If they're working on math, sit down with a calculator and balance your checkbook.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How do I get my child to put more effort into his work?

    Clinical Social Worker
    Klare Heston is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Ohio. She received her Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983.
    Clinical Social Worker
    Expert Answer
    Stay abreast of your child's schoolwork. Become aware of the types of assignments they receive. Be prepared to explain to your child when their efforts meet the requirement, and when it falls short. Your child may follow suit if you take homework seriously, and yet do not hound or blame them. Good luck!
  • Question
    My child is six and has weekly homework. Any advice specifically for children of this age?

    Clinical Social Worker
    Klare Heston is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Ohio. She received her Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1983.
    Clinical Social Worker
    Expert Answer
    Pay attention to how you structure homework time and supplies in your home. Remind the child that procrastinating cuts into their screen time or social time.
  • Question
    What kind of game can I use if the kids are learning fractions and decimals?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Use a cookie. Split it up and show your child the fraction. Once your child has finished that homework, it can be eaten as a reward.
  • Question
    What can I use for counting?
    Benjamin Krawetzki
    Community Answer
    Use your coins, balls, or other things that are good for counting, then, maybe that'll help your child do her homework.
  • Question
    How can I help my child speed up when doing her work?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Perhaps you could entice her with interesting things she can use her extra time for when she finishes her work on time.
  • Question
    What if I'm babysitting a child that doesn't want to do their homework?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Speak calmly to them and offer to help them if they need it. Don't threaten to punish them if they don't get it done, offer a reward instead. It doesn't even have to be specific, just say something like, "The sooner you get your homework done, the sooner we can have some fun!"
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  • Encourage professional presentation and neatness. If they're producing messy homework, try to catch them in the process and encourage a neater effort.
  • When the teacher asks that you have a part in your child's homework, do it! Working with your child's teacher will show your child that authority figures at school and home or on the same team.
  • Keep up to date with your child's school life. Talk with their teacher regularly to ensure you know the purpose of your child's assignments and understand the rules in class.

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