How to get a Defiant Child to do Homework

Defiant children are under the mistaken belief that they are in charge. Their defiance has worked for them in the past and they have learned to use it to their advantage. Luckily, there are several steps parents can take to get a defiant child to do homework. Since no two children are alike, there is no one-cure-fixes-all method. Parents must use what they know about their child to determine which course of action works best. Very often, more than one method must be tried before a solution is found.

Whichever steps are taken to get a defiant child to do homework, there are some things all parents must keep in mind when managing these situations:

• Stay calm – getting angry simply tells the child that they have won, they control you when you lose control of your emotions.

•Do not argue or threaten – If you argue with a child, you have already lost. Threats do not work. Children are pre-programmed to push the envelope and to call our bluff.

•Offer win-win options – Offer options that get everything done, such as allowing the child which thing they do first, math or writing.

•Hold fast – Do not give up. If the child must miss out on something they want because they have not yet finished their homework, then this is what they need to experience.

With these tools in mind, it will help the strong-willed child if you begin by giving them the task of creating a workable study “space” of their own within the home. This helps them take ownership of the task. Offer suggestions, such as adequate light, quiet, and supplies and then leave it up to them.

Set down ground rules, such as no television, computer games, friends, or other entertainments until their homework is done. 

Sit down with your child to ensure that they know what is expected of them by their teacher and that they have the skills they need to complete the work. Homework is a time for practicing skills they have been taught in the classroom. Many children who are struggling in the classroom become defiant at home when they are unable to perform the tasks set out in the homework assignment. If your child cannot explain the task to you, chances are high that they do not understand it for themselves. At this point, it is crucial that you be able to reteach the skill, or contact the child’s teacher right away for an explanation.

Habits take time to develop and are difficult to break. This is as true for good habits as it is for bad habits. Good study habits take time to develop and bad study habits are difficult to overcome. By remaining firm and calm, and providing clear explanations when they are needed, your defiant child will learn that some battles simply are not worth the effort. In surprisingly little time, your defiant child will learn better study habits, if only so that they can have more time to do the fun things that they want to do.