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  • Writer's pictureAshley

What to do when your child is frustrated with homework

Updated: Dec 5, 2021




We all know what happens when we, as adults, get frustrated with something we are working on. We may yell, stomp away, and even say a few choice words. We have learned through experience what works well in helping us to regulate our emotions during this time and how to come back to the project.


Children who are experiencing frustration and defeat with school, academics, or homework, will often display a similar type of reaction as adults do. Sometimes their reactions are larger than that of an adult and sometimes smaller. No matter what the reaction looks like, it is important to remember that children are still learning how to handle their emotions and reactions. It is up to the adults to show them how to respond when they are experiencing these big emotions.

Just as with academic teaching, most children need to be explicitly taught strategies for handling their emotions and they need to see someone else model the behavior. They need their adults to tell them and show them what to do.


However, a child’s outburst can be very frustrating for adults, especially if they are frequent. When homework becomes a battle every night, everyone in the house seems to lose their cool. Although there is no magic solution for helping your child who is frustrated with homework, there are some strategies that you can use to help them. Below you will find a list of 7 things to do when your child is frustrated with homework.


Plan Ahead


1. Create a toolkit


Before there are any issues, establish a toolkit that your child can use when they are feeling big emotions. This can include visuals of heavy work exercises, videos of exercises, breathing techniques, or soft music. You may have a dedicated place for your child to go in the yard where they can walk, run or jump. These are procedures and activities that you will go over with your child before they need it so when they are feeling angry, frustrated, or sad, they know where they can go to get help by themselves.


2. Schedule


Have a set schedule for homework or work time and stick to it. In your schedule include times and places that make concentration easy. Have children do their work in an area where they are not distracted by devices, siblings, dinner preparation, or other household happenings.


In the Moment


3. Take a break


Walk away from the activity for a little bit. Take a break from each other for a little bit. Set a timer, go off alone, and return when the timer goes off. I suggest a 5-10 minute break for younger learners and 10-20 minutes for older learners.


4. Encourage them to use their toolkit during the break


While I encourage parents to be present in case their child needs them, I also caution that you allow your child to have this time by themselves. As you encourage them to use the toolkit, do not lecture, reprimand or try to talk through what is happening. Direct them to the toolkit and allow them the chance to use it. Remember, it’s difficult but these are important life skills that they are practicing.


5. Practice organization


When your child returns from their break and is in a better mindset for completing work, help them to organize what they have to do. Teach them to make to-do lists, and prioritize those lists. Help them to set time limits and goals for themselves. Encourage their creativity in making homework more enjoyable with games, competitions, tracking their progress, etc. Organizing skills are another way to empower your child and build lifelong skills.


6. Process afterward


This is the time for discussion about what happened. It is also a great time to talk about how the toolkit worked, what needs to be changed, and how it can better serve them. Take this time to calmly discuss how your child felt, what could have been done differently, and what happened that was positive. This discussion is much more productive than angrily yelling at each other when everyone is out of control.


7. Remind yourself


No child will love homework and academics and want to do it all of the time. They are kids after all. Most children will go through stages where homework and learning are more of a struggle than other times. Remember to try to stay calm (have your own toolkit available for calming yourself and modeling) and keep working on strategies together. Your child may not be able to tell you, but just know that you are helping them develop healthy skills that will serve them for many years to come.


Some children really struggle to complete homework and learning at home with their families. Sometimes, the work is just too difficult, or easy, for them. Keep It Up Tutoring can help your child make learning more successful. Call today to discuss your options for individualized, one-on-one tutoring.

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