5 Things Not to Say to Your Child About Homework

Use these small tweaks to inspire rather than incite your child when it comes to homework.

If you've got a child who's frustrated by homework, it can be tough to stay calm, cool, and collected. Though we may want to throw our hands in the air and walk away, threaten our child with bad grades if he doesn't complete his assignments, or even flat out give her the answers when she's struggling, those responses won't help our kids succeed at homework in the long-term (and you know how many years of homework they've got ahead of them, right?!).

Here, we break down what you should and shouldn't say to a kid who's struggling with schoolwork. You'll be surprised how these five tweaks can benefit both of you!

1. Instead of: “I don’t understand how they teach math today.”Say: “I learned math differently. Look in your workbook and try to figure it out.”

2. Instead of: “Why don’t you add another sentence to this paragraph?”Say: This is a really interesting essay. I’d like to know more.”

3. Instead of: “The answer is 38.”Say: “Take it one step at a time. I’m here if you get stuck.”

4. Instead of: “This doesn’t make sense.”Say: “This is confusing to me too. Let’s write a note to your teacher.”

5. Instead of: “If you don’t finish your homework you’ll get a bad grade.”Say: “Do your best. Your teacher and I care about effort, not being perfect.”

A good rule of thumb: Parents should be less involved with the assignments and more so with the teacher, says Cathy Vatterott, Ph.D., professor of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and founder of the educational site HomeworkLady.com.

If homework is causing your kid serious distress or crowding out playtime or sleep, schedule an in-person appointment. “Teachers don’t set out to make parents’ lives miserable, but they do sometimes need more information about how your child is doing with his assignments,” says Dr. Vatterott. Keeping her in the loop will benefit everyone in the end.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles