Now that the school year is well underway, your child’s homework load is probably starting to pile up. And if it seems like your kids have too much studying to do at night—or at least more than you did as a child—you’re probably right. Studies indicate that today’s students may be getting as much as three times the amount of homework as they should.
As a parent, you may have to fight the urge to take some of the work off their plate, but it’s an urge well worth fighting. Whether your children are in second grade or high school, it’s important to make them responsible for their own work.
You May Be Doing More Harm Than Good
You may be solving some of your kids’ short-term problems by doing their homework for them, but in the long run, you’re not doing them any favors. In fact, you could be doing just the opposite. A recent study related to parental involvement in their children’s lives indicates that you’re probably doing them more harm than good by intervening in their workload.
Once students reach middle school, the study indicates that helping with their homework may actually decrease their test scores rather than improve them. Ironically, researchers who conducted the study believe this may be because many parents have either forgotten or never truly understood the subject matter.
Students Should Experience the Consequences of Their Actions
No matter if their grades are good or poor, if you’re the one taking charge of the homework, the ultimate consequence of the grade doesn’t pass on to your children. If they don’t experience the consequences of their work, whether that means a good grade or a failing one, they are less likely to change the behavior that’s been making things difficult in the first place.
Yelling Doesn’t Help
Finally, if you’re yelling and screaming every evening just to get your kids to finish their homework, then you’re sending them a negative message. What’s that message? That homework in general is a hassle and that it always will be.
Instead, let your children be responsible so they can experience the positive or negative consequences as the fruit of their own labor. If they need extra help, you should, of course, provide that, and if there are other concerns that may be affecting their grades, it’s imperative to speak with their teachers and school administrators.
But at the end of the day, it’s your child’s responsibility to complete his or her homework—not yours. Whether the consequences are positive or negative, their behavior will likely adjust accordingly.
David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street Columbus, OH 43206 or by phone at 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.