9 year old frustrated over homework.
received August 20, 2007
Q. I have two kids. one is 9 and another is 5. My older one is very emotional and very sensitive to any comments on his work. If he does any mistake, and we tell him, he starts crying, screaming…………. Now it becomes hard to teach him.
He is talent but very restless and easily distracted. He does his home work in a hurry to finished it quickly and did silly mistake. If we check his work and found the mistake .Then we have to tell him very politely to correct it. If we point out the mistake and tell him like ” there are some mistakes, correct those” he becomes upset. Some times he starts screaming and crying. If we say, “you need to learn it properly” he just says i don’t want to.. If we force him he just becomes terrible. Please suggest how to handle this kids?
A. Hi, Thanks for your question. I may have more questions than answers but since I can’t really ask questions I’m going to give you some suggestions that may or may not apply to your son.
My first suggestion is to make sure that when he’s doing his work that he’s had a break from school and possibly something to eat before he starts. We found that Dervish operated best if we gave him 1/2 an hour after he got home to have a snack and relax before starting homework. If we did that we were much more likely to be able to work with him.
Next I’d sit with him at some time when he’s ‘not’ doing work, maybe a Saturday afternoon or something and then bring up the subject with him. Talk to him about your frustration and his during these situations and ask if he has any ideas of how the two of you can resolve the issue. He may not but, you can try a brainstorming session, just shooting out ideas and it may inspire him to come up with some of his own.
Another thing to consider is a learning disability that is causing his frustration. Although intense emotional children do tend to have frustration issues, many very bright children, even those that qualify as “gifted” can also have learning issues like ADD/ADHD, or dyslexia that can cause a low frustration threshold and the tendency to make careless mistakes. (My oldest son has just been diagnosed with ADHD. At almost 13 years old, I’m shocked that I didn’t see the symptoms earlier but they were hidden in his personality!).
Here are some other things I would try:
- Ask him to come to you when he’s ready for you to check his work, or make a time some time after homework time to do the checking (schedule it so he knows it’s coming and to expect it)
- Make sure you find something to praise before finding the errors – ie. “You’ve printed this so nicely” or “I really like the picture you’ve drawn to go with the story”. As a general rule, we are more receptive to criticism following a little appreciation.
- Make sure you have a schedule for school work – as much as possible, the same time every day. If you can coordinate it with his friends homework schedule that’s even better!
Set a start and end time for homework – the common recommended formula is;
- Grades K-2- should not exceed 10-20 minutes per day
- Grades 3-4- should not exceed 45 minutes per day
- Grades 5-6- should not exceed 70 minutes per day
- Grades 7-9- should not exceed 1.5 hours per day
- Grades 10-12- should not exceed 2 hours per day
So if your child is in grade 4, set a 45 minute homework time – if he’s done before that then assign extra reading but make sure that he spends the entire time studying. That way, he’ll be less likely to rush through if he knows he’s going to be doing school work anyway.
- See if he is better with or without background noise. Some kids find some music in the background helps ease frayed nerves or assists in concentration. Some children need a completely quiet place – free of distractions.
- Find interesting ways to do the same task. For example, we had issues with practicing spelling. I gave my oldest a cookie sheet with flour, sugar, cornstarch, or cornmeal on it and had him use his finger to draw the words in the ‘flour’ rather than use a pencil and paper – it amused him and made the chore more fun.
- Focus a lot on the premise that we learn best from mistakes and that mistakes are normal. Perhaps he feels a let down that he hasn’t completed his work perfectly – but telling him once that mistakes are to be learned from won’t likely shake it, you will have to reinforce it over and over.
- If he is fidgety or restless – try giving him a stress ball to play with while he works – or – let him have some exercise before studying to burn off the excess energy.
- A more drastic measure is to let the mistakes go back to school for his teacher to find and ask for corrections. Often kids will take the criticism from the teacher easier than from a parent as the seem to view the teacher as an authority. This might be something to suggest during brainstorming as an alternative to you finding the mistakes – but he will have to understand that they will still be found, regardless of who looks for them.
That’s all I have right now. I hope you find something helpful!