Do you have a homework situation in your house? You’re not alone. We had a big homework problem a few years ago.
When my daughter Chloe was younger, she didn’t want to do her homework. Every single night, we would battle over it. I wasn’t helping her do her homework, but I had to check in constantly to make sure everything was turned in on time and done right. And to be honest, it wasn’t just about her. I felt that in some way, my value and self-worth as a parent was tied to her getting good grades. You may feel the same. The good news is, there’s a way out.
Letting Go of Homework Battles
Everything changed when one of my parenting mentors clued me in to the importance of letting kids and teens pay the consequences for their actions. I felt uncomfortable with the idea at first, but one night during the usual sparring trying to get Chloe to do her homework, I decided to give it a try.
I told her, “You know, honey, I love you so much that I realized something. This is your homework. It’s not my homework. If you don’t want to do homework ever again you don’t have to do it. After all, it’s your grades, not my grades.”
She looked at me suspiciously, rolled her eyes, and told me that didn’t make any sense. So, I repeated myself—she no longer had to do her homework, but if she didn’t, she would have to be willing to pay the consequences. Then I added, “It’s okay because you’re so cute and you’re so sweet that I’m sure you’ll make new friends next year when all your friends move on to the next grade.”
She got so angry she jumped out her chair and said, “I never said I wasn’t going to do my homework. I just said I’m not doing it right this second.”
From that moment on, I have never asked her if she has finished her homework. If she doesn’t do it, there are consequences.
You Have to Live with the Consequences Too
I’ve helped a lot of Brain Warriors implement this strategy, and I’ve found that many of them aren’t willing to let their kids pay the consequences. Here’s an example of how parents have to learn to let their kids do it.
One time, Chloe forgot her to take her homework to school. It was a huge group project, and the fact that she’d left it at home meant the whole group was going to get marked down. Chloe told the teacher not to bother calling me because, “My mom won’t bring it. I already know she won’t bring it.” The teacher didn’t believe her and called me anyway asking, “Would you bring Chloe’s homework to school?” I replied, “No. Chloe already knows the rules. If she forgot her homework then that’s on Chloe. She’s going to have to explain to the group why they’re getting a lesser grade.”
I understand that’s a really uncomfortable consequence. In disbelief, her teacher said, “You’re kidding, right?” I told her, “I’m not kidding. If I bring it this time, she’ll ask me the next time. If I don’t bring it this time, she’ll never forget again.” And then I added that if Chloe really wanted her homework, she could pay to have a courier come pick it up.
Chloe never forgot her homework again. Ever.
Learning to Study Smarter, Not Harder
On that night when I told Chloe she didn’t have to do her homework, I transferred my anxiety about her homework to her. Now, she’s fixated on her homework—double-checking and triple checking to make sure she’s got it. She’s so obsessed with her grades that she’s become a real pro at using smart study strategies to get her homework done faster and more effectively. She’s actually learned so much about studying and getting the most out of school, she teamed up with my husband Dr. Daniel Amen and our niece Alizé Castellanos to write a book on how to be a more successful student. Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades is filled with brain-based solutions to help students work smarter, not harder.
To help put an end to homework or other school problems, order your copy of Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades. It can change your life too.