It’s 9 p.m. and Tomoki is in tears because the homework is still not done.
Mom is furious because she has no idea why her son still has not finished his homework.
If you were to talk with mom, she may say something like the following.
“This is ridiculous!
I’ve worked hard all day long cleaning, cooking, taking my kids to their classes, etc. I’m stressed out and very tired. I’m also not looking forward to doing the same thing all over again tomorrow. It’s endless! Just the thought of doing this one more day puts my stomach in knots.
I can’t believe my son’s school expects me to help with homework. I have no special training in teaching nor do I have any interest in doing it. How dare they expect this of me! What about all the money I pay for these schools?
This homework situation is turning me into a dictator and driving a wedge between my son and I. It’s heartbreaking!
I want to love my child, not police him!”
If you talk with Tomoki, he may say something like the following.
“I’m so tired and stressed out. I should be in bed now.
My biggest fear as a child is to lose my mother’s approval. I need her approval to survive. Right now, she is very angry with me and I feel so sick.
I hate her, this homework and my school.”
I’ve seen the above situation countless times here in Japan between children and their parents. It’s heartbreaking for me because I know this is just building a foundation for unhealthy relations. Also, it makes children associate pain to learning. As a result, they end up hating school. Very Sad.
What’s going on here? A lot so I will share my thoughts.
Parents’ Perceived Responsibilities
Some of the parents I’ve talked with about homework feel, they have to make sure the homework gets done and the child understands. This is a HUGE problem on so many levels.
For one, it creates an atmosphere that suggests the homework is more of a responsibility to the parent than to the child. The homework is not the parents’ responsibility. It’s the child’s responsibility and if it does not get done, that’s between the child and the teacher.
Most of the moms I’ve talked with about this, tell me they don’t want to be seen as a bad mother by their child’s teacher so they try to make sure the homework gets done. This too makes the homework more important to the mother than to the child. This is a recipe for stress and does not teach the child personal responsibility.
Homework should be a review of a lesson they have already learned in school. There should be no “teaching” of homework, at home. If the child does not understand, it’s the teacher’s responsibility, not the parents.
Homework should be done when the child still has energy. Most definitely not at 9:00 at night.
One strategy I teach parents that works extremely well is to have a homework checksheet taped to the refrigerator. Ever go into a restroom in a restaurant and see a sheet on the wall? The sheet shows when the restroom was last cleaned and by who. This is where I got the idea.
All this is, is a sheet where the child checks a box if they have homework, the date, and a box to check when the homework is done. Now the homework and its completion are between the child and the sheet. This teaches the child personal responsibility, holds the child accountable and gets mom out of the middle of it.
If mom wants to help, she can say something like “I don’t see a check here yet. Do you need some help with your homework?” In most cases saying something like this serves as a reminder to the child that they need to do their homework. This system maintains harmony between parent and child and promotes the child taking personal responsibility for their work.
Homework is a great way to review previously learned lessons. It’s also a great way for a child to start taking personal responsibility for their education. It should not be a dreadful experience and if it is, there should be an intervention right-away.
If you would like to know how to harmoniously work with your child with zero resistance or friction, you can always take a “mother and child” class with me and I will show you how to do it, fast and easy. There is no reason to fight, struggle or play tug-a-war with your child.