Investigate Any Resistance
If, despite your best efforts, your child stubbornly refuses to do his homework, you need to get to the bottom of things. "It might seem like an attitude problem, but his reluctance may be a sign that he's having difficulty with the material," says Jed Baker, PhD, author of No More Meltdowns. Talk to his teacher about how he's doing in class; if he's struggling there too, he may need extra help in general. If he's simply homework-averse, try breaking up the assignment into smaller tasks and challenging him to get through at least one. "Once he reaches his initial goal, momentum might just carry him through to the end," says Dr. Baker.
Don't forget that all kids will be pleased to hear some heartfelt props for getting their work done. Your recognition of their effort -- even if it doesn't result in an "A" -- is the greatest incentive of all and a powerful way to communicate the importance of trying their best.
Originally published in the February 2009 issue of Parents magazine.