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How to Break Down Homework to Avoid Melt Downs

If your home is anything like mine, homework can be a major pain point. Does your child have melt-downs, hide, forget or lie about assignments, or just downright refuse to do homework? Maybe you get them calmed down and ready to work only to discover they forgot the textbook at school and the tears start all over again. By the time you are able to convince your child to start working on any homework, your patience has long since been used up. You sat down to help your child with their homework and now you’re the one feeling the need for help.

Homework is an anxiety inducing activity. It arouses fears in our children’s minds that they might fail and triggers memories of the times they have. That doesn't mean homework is bad and needs to be avoided, it simply means we need tools to navigate that anxiety (both for ourselves and our kids). Obviously, the first place we need to look is God’s Word. God knows our propensity to be anxious - the Bible has many passages that address anxiety, worry, and fear. One of the most helpful to me is Matthew 6:25-34. I won’t quote the whole passage here, but here is a link to it if you want to read it over. There are so many rich truths packed into these few verses, but what I find most practical for our purposes is Jesus’ reminder in verse 34 to take it one day at a time. Sometimes we need to take it 15 minutes at a time! So let’s talk about how to do that.

  1. Make sure you are spending time with the Lord, being filled with His patience and love for your child. If you’re like me, you cannot do this on your own strength.

  2. Ask the teacher how you can lighten the homework load - get a request for accommodations in writing by your psychologist or psychiatrist if necessary.

  3. Speak the truth - Remind your child that they have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. Simply because homework falls in the category of a weakness doesn’t minimize their many strengths.

  4. Set the sensory stage - Get a healthy snack and drink, give a hug and say a prayer. Use things that calm your child’s anxiety such as a weighted blanket or favorite stuffed animal, nature sounds or soft piano music, calming oils in a diffuser or baked goods in the oven, and a stability ball or wobbly chair.

  5. Break up the time - Write down:

  6. Each assignment - including setting a goal for long-term assignments

  7. Every activity and chore

  8. A few fun things that boost dopamine levels (see my post on Natural Mood Boosters here)

  9. Assign a time to each of these activities and then use a timer or alarms (depending on child’s preference) to stay on track. Start with an easy win and sprinkle in the mood boosters.

  10. End with a simple reward like a favorite game, some one on one time with you, or a victory song you create together.

This sounds like a lot, and maybe it will take some work at first. Hopefully, as you practice it, over time you’ll notice your child having more confidence and taking more initiative in the process, freeing you up to make dinner or read that novel you can’t seem to get to. They will be able to build the skills of breaking down overwhelming tasks, which is an important executive function skill. I’m including a printable worksheet (download it here) to help you with this process. You can even laminate it and use a dry erase marker so you don’t have to reprint it each day.

Need more help? Book a free Discovery Session here to find out how my Family Home Framework can help your family flourish. Subscribe here to get your free guide “Ultimate ADHD Resource List”.

The content found on Flourishing Family Coaching’s website and blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding ADHD, anxiety, depression or any other medical conditions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.

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