Professional Counseling & Psychotherapy

Helping Your Student “Turn on the Light”

student struggles

If you’re asking your child that question, then you already know that he’s not planning on doing whatever homework he may have without hassling over it with you first. So, why do some children resist doing their homework? Well, first, we may observe that resistance to doing homework can be associated with reduced school performance (that may mean some D’s on the report card!). And, though they may say “I don’t care,” somewhere underneath they actually do, which is pretty stressful for them, and a lot of us prefer to avoid the things that we associate with stress!

But how does it all start? Well, when we switch the light on in our living room but it’s not working, we begin to troubleshoot. Has the bulb burned out? Has the plug come loose from the wall? Have we blown a fuse? We have to address the underlying cause for failure in order to get the light to come on. So, what are some underlying causes that may lead children to resist doing their homework (and having D’s on their report card)? Here are a few examples of questions we might ask as we begin to troubleshoot.

Are there areas of reduced skill that impede my child’s ability to learn or perform easily? Is my child able to pay attention well? At what grade level is my child able to read? How well does he comprehend main ideas? How easily is he able to memorize details? How do his verbal skills compare with written expression? How well is he able to perform on tests?

What are the benefits my child sees for completing homework? Does he expect to succeed? Is he able to persist with less preferred activities in order to achieve goals? Is he able to perform well with less preferred teachers?

Is my child generally happy – with himself, his family, his peers? Does he enjoy learning things and developing new skills?

Evaluating your child’s strengths and weaknesses will help you know how best to promote your child’s success in school. Guiding your child in forming his own plan for completing homework, showing interest in what he is learning, showing interest in his own feelings about his performance, paying more attention to his achievement than to failure are also ways to help shape your child’s work ethic while protecting the healthy, happy family relationships that we all need to enjoy our lives and apply ourselves successfully – to “turn on the light!”

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