Getting Your Child to Actually Do Their Homework: Be Proactive!

Here we are, less than a month out from the new school year, and you’re worried that you’re going to have to go through the homework struggle… all over again.

You’re hoping this year will be different. You worked so hard, collaborating with your child's teacher, and finally had a good system... by April. And now you’re worried that you’re going to start up all over again at ground zero.

But it doesn’t have to be like this! Read below for a few tips on getting your child to actually do their homework.

What do you do?

I encourage parents to have a conversation with their kids about why the homework isn’t happening. Are they stressed out about it? They wanted it to be perfect? Do they hate school or classmates or their teacher? Whatever is underneath the homework avoidance will inform your approach to it.

Prevention is key:

Try to have these conversations and come up with a plan BEFORE the homework really starts to pile up. Schedule an initial meeting with your teacher to talk through the struggles last year, and proactively come up with a plan and when you’ll be checking on it this upcoming school year.

1. Set up a schedule.

For those angry and avoidant kids, make sure to give them a couple breaks during the homework. Set up a system where they do 20 minutes on and 10 minutes off until the homework is over.

2. Limit the time spent on homework.

For kids and teens who tend towards anxiety and perfectionism, you’ll also want to set limits, making sure that they don’t keep doing homework past a certain point in the night, and helping to train them that perfect is the enemy of good. Encourage them to approach essays as first drafts, but only allow for edits if there’s time. I’ll often find the perfectionist teens I work with don’t turn in any homework, because they feel it isn’t good enough.

3. Take a deep breath.

And for anxious or angry, make sure to build in relaxation throughout the process, taking pauses for deep breaths and ensuring that there something fun after the end of the homework to help them calm from any stress and get ready for bed - movie time, reading a story, etc.

When to get another opinion:

If doing homework is always a huge struggle, to the point where you and your child’s teachers aren’t sure what to do next, consider meeting with a therapist who specializes in school anxiety and anger management.

Is this ringing a bell? I specialize in child and adolescent anxiety, and know how those angry reactions can morph into school avoidance, perfectionism, and overwhelm - for your kids, and for you. You can set up a free phone consultation right here on our website:

Compassionate Counseling St. Louis is located in Clayton, MO. We work with angry and anxious kids, teens, and college students throughout Clayton, Webster Groves, Brentwood, University City, Creve Couer, Town and Country, Des Peres, St. Louis City, Saint Louis County, and surrounding areas.

This blog was originally posted on September 5, 2018 and is re-posted here with a few edits.