How to avoid homework hassles


If getting your kids to do their homework is turning your life into a nightly battleground, help is on the way. GMA parenting contributor and author Ann Pleshette Murphy has some good, practical advice to help you avoid homework hassles.

How to avoid homework hassles
  • Start with the child’s teacher at the beginning of the year. What are her expectations? How much homework should they have every night? Kids need to know that they should go to teachers first for guidance.
  • A key point in avoiding hassles with homework is to remember to respect your kid’s style. They don’t all sit at the table or a desk to do homework, some just want to lie on the floor and do it with music blasting. Some kids want to be near you, some will sit at a tidy desk. Understand their style.
  • Make homework part of the routine. Every night, turn off the television and say, it’s time for homework. I’ll be paying the bills, or reading the newspaper, you do your homework. If they say they don’t have any homework, get them to do other projects.
  • Don’t do their projects for them. Don’t help them so much that they know that if they get an A it’s because of you, not because they earned it themselves. This has long range negative implications for them. Research shows that they are much more motivated to achieve when they do the work themselves.

KATRINA: I’m Katrina Szish for, joining me is Ann Pleshette Murphy, Parenting Expert and the author of The 7 Stages of Motherhood. Nice to see you, Ann.

ANN: Thanks.

KATRINA: We’re talking about how to avoid homework hassles. That’s a big one. How do you stay involved with your children and their homework without being too involved?

ANN: Well, it’s really a very fine line in my house in particular, but I would start with your child’s teacher. Early in the year, find out how much homework they’re going to have, what her expectations are, his expectations are, and make sure that your child knows that the person that he or she should talk to, first and foremost, is the teacher. That said, if you are finding that you’re constantly getting into a battle about homework, first of all understand that kids have different styles and respect your child’s style. Some kids want to sit on the floor with the music blasting.

KATRINA: That was me.

ANN: Some kids want to be – Right. Some kids, that’s my son. Some kids want to be near you; so when you’re doing the cooking for dinner, they want to be at the kitchen table. And some kids will sit at a nice, tidy, little desk with their sharpened pencils and do it there. So understand what your child’s style is. The other thing is to really make homework part of your routine. So every night, and in fact it’s best if you can pay bills or read the newspaper, turn off the television: it’s time to do homework, and I’m going to be doing my bills or I’m going to be reading the newspaper. And if they say, well I don’t have any homework to do tonight, then say, well let’s use that time to review stuff. I mean just, there’s got to be something you can do, so that it’s part of what you do every night.

KATRINA: What about class projects, school projects where you get to the classroom or you get to the science fair and you can tell that someone’s parents happened to be a designer or an architect, definitely were very involved in that particular project. Isn’t that cheating?

ANN: Well it is cheating, and the person it’s cheating is their child.


ANN: And, in fact, the reason it is, is because there’s a lot of research on motivation, and what we find is that there is no substitute for that feeling of, ‘I did it, I did it myself.’ And what you’ll find is, if you’re over-involved in your child’s work and they get an A, they’re going to quickly say, ‘Yeah, but you did it.’ And that’s really going to cost them in the long-term in ways, you know, just not worth it.

KATRINA: Okay. Ann Pleshette Murphy, thanks so much for your advice.

ANN: Thanks.

meet theexpert
  • Ann Pleshette

    Ann Pleshette Parenting Contributor, Good Morning America, ABC Ann Pleshette Murphy has been the Parenting Contributor for Good Morning America since November 1998, and her “American Family” segments are a recurring feature on GMA. Murphy is the author of The 7 Stages of Motherhood: Loving Your Life Without Losing Your Mind (Anchor Books) and travels the country speaking to mothers’ groups about such themes as striking a balance between work and family, wrestling with guilt and setting loving limits. She was Editor-in-Chief of Parents magazine from 19 more about this expert »

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