How to get a Defiant Child to do Homework

“I can’t get my child to do any homework.”

“Homework disrupts the whole household every school night.”

These are just two examples of comments I received from parents over the course of my 30-year teaching career. Homework is often a very stressful time for both students and parents, so much so that parents often leave the children alone and do not press the issue. The key to getting a defiant child to do homework is to put a plan in place with the cooperation of the teacher. It is also important to find out why the child is so adamant about not wanting to complete the assigned work.

Laziness is the common reason that parents and teachers give when children refuse to do their homework. This may be true in some situations, but not all. Many times children don’t want to complete their homework because they don’t fully understand what it is they have to do. They may not have fully grasped the concept in class and were too shy to ask for help from the teacher. The teacher should take the child aside in school and calmly ask the reasons for the non-completion of the assignments. This should not be a confrontational situation, but one in which the teacher comes across as a friend in whom the child can confide.

Peer pressure is very often the reason why a child may be defiant about not doing homework. Parents can take a look at their child’s friends and make discrete inquiries as to whether or not these children complete their homework. It may be an unwritten rule among the group to assess their dominance by not bending to the wishes of the teacher after school hours end. They may see the teacher as punishing them by assigning homework and refuse to do it without realizing how they can benefit from it.

A defiant child can also be a gifted one who sees homework as boring and not challenging enough. This is especially true if your child receives high grades on tests and assignments completed in school with very little study and work. The teacher has an important role to play in solving this problem by differentiating the instruction and extending the learning after discussion with the child about his/her interests. A child that has the opportunity to do something different from what the mainstream students are required to do will often develop an avid interest in homework when he/she understands the learning and the benefits that can be achieved.

Then there is the child who simply wants to play and watch television rather than do homework. In this case the parents can set a homework time that is different from the times when the favourite shows are on TV. Gaining the cooperation of the teacher is also important in this by making sure that the child only has a small amount of homework or none on certain nights of the week.