Are You Doing More Homework Than Your Children?

What Can Homework Helpers Do To Halt Homework Hassles?


Are You Doing More Homework Than Your Children? What Can Homework Helpers Do To Halt Homework Hassles?

Can you relate to Joan?

Joan has two children who just can’t seem to get their homework done without her or them getting frustrated to tears.  Joan repeatedly picks up or delivers her one child’s forgotten homework . When her daughter does remember it, she doesn’t understand it and Joan feels like she has to teach her all over again!

Her other child could get his homework done in a flash, if he would just sit down and do it. He puts it off, because he says he already knows it and thinks homework is stupid.

Like many parents who are homework helpers, Joan wants her children to succeed in school and feels homework is important, so she nags and reminds her son to do it and spends hours each evening tutoring her daughter.

Why is homework so hard for Joan and her children?

Joan has fallen into the common pitfalls homework helpers easily fall into when their children lack the skills to complete their homework independently:

  • Joan takes on too much responsibility for her children’s homework.
  • Joan nags and reminds her children to do their homework.
  • Joan resorts to doing her daughter’s homework for her, if it’s too difficult or she doesn’t do as well as Joan would like.
  • Joan delivers homework (or lunch) when her children forget it.
  • Joan lectures to her children about the importance of homework, which is met with rolling eyes and deaf ears.

“Well what’s Joan supposed to do?” you might ask. If she does nothing, they’d never get it done!

Like most parenting issues, homework is not a black and white issue, with only two extreme solutions: taking over and doing too much or giving in and doing nothing. There is a Balanced approach parents can take that teaches children the skills they need to do homework independently and hassle-free.

One of the core teachings in The Parent’s Toolshop® is to identify (1) whose responsibility it is to solve the problem and (2) if there’s problem behavior, is it unintentional or on purpose. All homework hassles fit these two categories: this article addresses those that result from children lacking skills (“unintentional”). For solutions to homework hassles that result from children intentionally not doing homework, seethe article:  Looking for Homework Tips For Parents of Children who Intentionally Don’t Do Their Homework?

Here are some tips for parents who are Homework Helpers:

Homework is the child’s responsibility, so you need to be careful how much you help. You want to be aware of what your children are doing and be involved in helpful ways, but not help too much. You are responsible for holding your children responsible for homework. So avoid the word “we,” which implies that homework is your responsibility. Instead, say, “When are you going to do your homework?” If they are having problems, figure out why.

If children have a time management problem, teach them how to schedule their time, instead of taking over and reminding them. Ask questions like, “How much time do you need for homework? Would you like to do homework right after school or right after dinner? How can you remember when it is time to do your homework?”

If children don’t understand homework, ask questions that help them figure out the answer. “What are you supposed to do here? Where in the book does it talk about this?” If children don’t understand the information, you can try explaining it. You do not have to understand what children are learning to be helpful. You just need to know the skills for helping children find their own answers. If children need daily help, they may benefit from a tutor than your taking responsibility for helping them. It’s a delicate balance to be helpful, without fostering dependency, rescuing, or helping too much.

If children forget a book, lunch, or homework, teach organizational skills and use problem solving to let children chose self-reminders. Avoid being their reminder or rescuer. Agree to deliver forgotten items no more than three times per year. After that, the child will need to experience the natural consequence of not having the item.

If children don’t see the value of homework, avoid lecturing. Ask questions like, “Why do you think the teacher wants you to do homework? How can doing homework help you? What will happen if you don’t do it?” Offer one brief value statement like, “Sometimes people ask us to do things they feel are important but we don’t. At work I have to do what my boss asks me to do. School is your job and teachers are your boss. As long as they aren’t asking you to do something hurtful or wrong, you need to do what they ask to do your job well.”

Would you like to learn more about The Parent’s Toolshop® and its unique Universal Blueprint® problem-solving system? It can show you how to skillfully prevent or solve homework hassles and hundreds (or thousands) of other parenting challenges. If so, take the 30-Day Conquer Your Parenting Concern Challenge. You will be less frustrated, respond more calmly and feel more confident in any parenting situation.

The best part is the 30-Day Challenge is free!  So what are you waiting for?  Get rid of the stress and frustration of homework hassles by taking the 30-Day Challenge!


Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is the author of the award-winning book, The Parent’s Toolshop and president of Parent’s Toolshop Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. She has 30 years experience as a top-rated speaker and parenting expert to the media worldwide, including serving as the Co-Producer and Parenting Expert for the Emmy-nominated Ident-a-Kid television series. Currently, she hosts the Parents Tool Talk radio show and is a parenting expert columnist for Chic Mom magazine. She has produced almost 100 multimedia resources, which are available at her award-winning website, 

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