How to Help Your Child With Homework

Put an end to homework tug-of-wars with your child, whether they’re a perfectionist or procrastinator.

Jul 05, 2022



How to Help Your Child With Homework

Jul 05, 2022

Sometimes homework can feel like you’re pulling teeth, especially if your child is resisting. But the truth is, homework hassles are often self-discipline problems in disguise. Setting reasonable limits can help your child get back on track.

Whether your child is a perfectionist or a procrastinator, every student is bound to experience some frustration completing their assignments. 

Here’s how to help your child finish their work successfully, whether they’re a perfectionist, procrastinator, disorganized, or striving student.

The Perfectionist

To a certain extent, perfectionists just can't help it.

"Perfectionism can be a wonderful thing to pass on to your child, so parents shouldn't feel badly about it,” says Melanie J. Katzman, associate clinical professor of psychology at Weill Cornell Medical School in New York City. “But carried to an extreme, it can become debilitating.”

For example, perfectionist kids may anticipate that they’ll never be able to meet their own high standards and ask themselves, “Why bother?”

To keep your child from getting gridlocked while doing homework, help them set realistic achievement goals and praise effort, not grades.

The Procrastinator

Procrastinators find 101 things to do before they actually sit down and start their homework. Often, this means waiting until the last minute then rushing through it.

A child who procrastinates may do so for various reasons: They may be disorganized or have poor study or planning skills, or they may be anxious or angry about something at home or at school, in which case you’ll want to talk to them, their teachers, or a school psychologist to determine why.

To help, work with your child to set goals they can meet and come up with a schedule together (these tips for establishing homework habits can help). You can get ahead of homework or school-related anxieties with these soothing books for coping with worry to share during your nightly read-aloud.

The Disorganized Child

The disorganized child is always "just about" to sit down and start their homework, but then... well, something comes up. 

You could tear your hair out over the antics of a child who's disorganized — and they still won't have finished what they need to do. Sometimes the problem may be a learning challenge. Sometimes it's as simple as providing a reasonably quiet, efficient workspace or teaching your child to organize homework materials and allocate time appropriately.

Be careful not to get in your child’s way. If you're always supplying suggestions and reminders, you undermine the whole purpose of homework. The disorganized child will never gain the confidence they need to be self-sufficient.

The Striving Student

Parents of striving students may hear the lament "I'm not smart enough" or "It's just too hard” — especially around 4th or 5th grade, when the amount of homework intensifies and variance between teachers’ instruction styles grows. To keep your child engaged, you need to be a cheerleader. (Here’s how to talk to your child about confidence.)

If your child is genuinely unable to do their homework, you, in tandem with a teacher or school psychologist, must figure out why and enlist the necessary help. A learning difficulty or anxiety over problems at home may be affecting schoolwork, or your child may need more challenging assignments. 

Get ready for your child to go back to school with our guide — it's full of recommended books, teacher tips, homework help, and more resources for a successful school year.

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Homework & Project Tips
Cognitive Skills
Age 10
Age 9
Age 8
Child Development and Behavior
Learning Styles
Laziness and Procrastination
Motivation Ideas
Time Management and Organization