For both children and parents, nothing feels worse after a long day of work and school than sitting down to a pile of homework. The amount to do can be overwhelming, the subject matter may not be well understood (by all parties involved), and the tasks can be tedious and in-depth. St. Petersburg child therapist Juli Hindsley offers guidance on a topic that is all too common in most households.
The most important step in navigating the emotions and stream of “I don’t want to!” is validation. Hindsley advises that you remind children it’s okay to be upset and overwhelmed but that it does not mean homework can be skipped. Validation will also reinforce that you are on the same team and that you will help your child through it.
The St. Petersburg-based therapist suggest having a plan and communicating it with all involved. If your child knows that homework time is from 5 to 6PM every night, he or she can plan and prepare accordingly. It’s also vital to have a distraction-free space to complete homework. Hindsley states children are too likely to get distracted in their rooms and they also can’t easily ask for assistance if you aren’t in the same space.
Hindsley also points to a teamwork approach as a positive way to break the homework blues. She offers the idea of setting a timer and having the goal of getting as much done independently before the timer ends. Once the timer goes off, parents and guardians can look at it with their child and see how they can offer assistance. And if a child finishes their work before the timer each night, the St. Petersburg child therapist says there’s nothing wrong with offering a little reward, whether it’s ten minutes of parent-child playtime or ten extra minutes of screentime.
“Don’t be afraid to have children struggle with homework – many parents face it,” Hindsley adds. “It’s okay for children to know that work can be hard, as long as they know you are a team and will help when possible.”
The Child & Family Therapy Center offers parent coaching sessions, which go through these topics and more in great detail.