Stressed Out Mom and 8 Year Old Battle Homework
Mom and 8 Year Old Son Stress over homework.
I have try to be as patience I been trying to give him extra work over the weekend for him to get use to the work habits but it seems like there is no use for my techniques, it also seems that he can’t do his homework if I’m not sitting next to him to back him up.
I have try to be very patience but its very hard he takes very long on his homeworks and sometimes it will go over 2 hours before he can finish his work, I have try the timing it work for a little but after that it was worst them before because he try to do his work fast and them he will do most of his incorrectly.
I am trying to be a role model for my son but I feel like that is going down the drain, he can’t concentrate at all and also he cry for nothing I have been a little hard on him but I believe I’m doing the best I can. I have take everything away from him ( TV, games ) but everything still the same. Please help.
Hi, Thanks for your parenting question.
It seems to be the season of homework stress! I’ve certainly had my share of it with The Dervish in the past month as well.
I don’t remember having this much trouble with my older son. It’s not like he just ‘loved’ homework or anything, we did have challenges but not like I’ve had with my intense 8 year old.
We’ve had the fights, and the tears over homework as well. I’m just going to talk about some of my observations and things I’ve tried to see if there’s something that might inspire some ideas. Thinking outside the parenting box is often very helpful.
I’ve noticed that Dervish does not get as upset about homework in a subject he likes and does well at as he does with a subject that he’s having trouble with. For instance, he does not argue about doing his spelling homework in either English or French, he doesn’t even need to be asked to read his daily reading but addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing will send him into a frenzy before he even gets started. Just the THOUGHT of math conjures the storm clouds.
Is your son upset with all forms of homework or are there specific subjects that bring out the worst? Either way, it might be worth looking into any issues that might be making learning difficult. I find that Dervish looks at things a little differently than what you might consider ‘normal’. In math for instance, he needs concrete materials to touch and see to effectively learn, a real clock to move the hands on rather than a drawing, coins instead of drawn images of coins for counting. Once both his teacher and I were aware of this it’s made us look differently at math with The Dervish.
Further to this, he does not require or even ask me to sit with him while he practices his spelling but he does want me to be with him for math.
Last night I printed some practice sheets from the internet and asked him to work on them. He went crazy… started to cry, said he couldn’t do it, said he’d get them all wrong and that he needed help. I decided to have a discussion with him.
First of all, I explained to him that I know that he’s a smart kid but that he has trouble with math. I explained that we only expect him to do his best and that no one can be great at everything. I pointed out the things he is great at and then went back to the math. Then I explained that people that have trouble with specific things, learn tricks to help them remember and learn…. and that together we would find the tricks for him to remember the math rules.
I asked him to do 5 questions on each of the 2 math sheets and then bring them to me and then I’d be able to find out where he’s having trouble and know how to help. He still looked upset so I said 3 questions each. He was fine with that and after the first 3 he went back and did 4 more on each sheet. Today he did 5 on each sheet.
You might have some success with having your son try the homework in small doses too with you checking in between. Suggest he do the first question or 2 and then you’ll check. Go over it with him and be sure to praise his efforts (even if he doesn’t get everything right) Try to identify any mistakes and see if you can offer suggestions to avoid those mistakes the next time.
We were also having a real issue with getting down to work. First I tried just stopping his play so he’d have time to do his homework before bed. That didn’t work. I tried assigning a homework time of after dinner. That didn’t work, he was too tired. Then I tried right after school. He was angry about missing out on playing with his friends. Finally a few days ago I’d catch him when he got home and ask him to make a homework and chores plan. He decided he’d do it at 5pm giving him an hour after he got home before he started. At 5 pm he was cooperative and willing to start. Today I asked him and he said he wanted to do it right away. He did and he was done by 5pm with a whole evening ahead with nothing but free time. Giving my intense child control over when he does his homework really works for me.
After we were done the math tonight and he was doing much better. I pointed out how the practice is helping and related it to his soccer. He’s a great soccer player but at the beginning of last season he was only able to do 2 keep-ups before loosing control of the ball. Now, after practicing all summer with his brother he can do up to 10 before loosing control. This is concrete proof to him that practicing something you aren’t good at helps you get better at that skill.
Some other general suggestions…
Focus on rewarding desired behavior as opposed to punishing undesirable behavior. Rather than taking things away for not doing well with his homework, perhaps a positive reinforcement system would be more effective – stars, poker chips, stickers – it doesn’t matter, you can even offer a small prize or treat when so many ‘stars’ have been awarded… that helps with the concept of working towards a goal as well. (attention, hugs, affection, smiles and ‘high fives’ are often times more rewarding than tangible rewards)
I’d probably get rid of the homework practice sessions (weekend work to practice getting into the work routine). Homework should be practice for new skills, studying for tests and leftover work that didn’t get done in school – in my humble opinion – I try to use the weekends as rewards for getting it all done during the week.
If he the issue does seem to you an issue of concentration, you might want to discuss it with his teachers and see if they are experiencing the same difficulties. If so, consider having him assessed for ADD/ADHD. Here are the questions we looked at when considering this for my oldest son.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms
By the American Psychiatric Association
DSM-IV Criteria for ADHD:
Six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:
- Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
- Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
- Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
- Often has trouble organizing activities.
- Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
- Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
- Is often easily distracted.
- Is often forgetful in daily activities.
Six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:
- Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
- Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.
- Often runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may feel very restless).
- Often has trouble playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.
- Is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”.
- Often talks excessively.
- Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
- Often has trouble waiting one’s turn.
- Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).
- Some symptoms that cause impairment were present before age 7 years.
- Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g. at school/work and at home).
- There must be clear evidence of significant impairment in social, school, or work functioning.
- The symptoms do not happen only during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder. The symptoms are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).
Based on these criteria, three types of ADHD are identified:
- ADHD, Combined Type: if both criteria 1A and 1B are met for the past 6 months
- ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type: if criterion 1A is met but criterion 1B is not met for the past six months
- ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: if Criterion 1B is met but Criterion 1A is not met for the past six months.
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
I hope I’ve been of some help. Please feel free to comment on my suggestions.