We all want our children to develop healthy habits and succeed, and we also want to make our life as parents’ smoother. So, when it comes to being able to successfully motivate our children to complete their homework it’s a win-win, but how do we actually go about it?
As adults we can agree that we’ve all had things we don’t want to do, or work we procrastinate; coming from the perspective that our child probably feels the same way about homework may help us to find a solution to increasing motivation.
First, we must understand that we are either extrinsically motivated (external reward for task) or intrinsically motivated (personal enjoyment and satisfaction from task). Ideally, we would love our children to always be intrinsically motivated to complete their homework (and household chores!), but that is unrealistic.
However, you can make homework more satisfying and consequently increase motivation, through finding out why your child isn’t enjoying it, and working to change that.
Here are some of the reasons children struggle, and what you can do about it:
- Sitting still for long periods – set a timer for breaks where they can do some stretches, dance to silly music, or run laps around the house
- Concentration –set timed intervals to give your child a mental pause to regather focus
- Engagement/interest in the content- make sure they’re confident achieving their task! Sit with them, discuss the homework and show them how it’s relevant and useful in their life
At the end of the day, no matter how you go about it, there will always be certain tasks that your child does not want to do. Having very clear routines and boundaries creates structure and familiarity, which reduces the need for the child to test your limits- they know what they are.
Routines and boundaries your family can start implementing today:
- After dinner we do homework for one hour (or pre-determined, age-appropriate time), and then you can do something of your choice
- Use positive language to set the boundaries: ‘once you’ve finished your homework there will be time for you to watch TV’, rather than, ‘if you don’t finish your homework you can’t watch TV.’
- If your child doesn’t complete the homework, reinforce your boundaries via a logical consequence, rather than punishment: ‘because you didn’t finish your homework, there won’t be time for your favourite activities.’
Consistency is key!
It takes time and consistency to create new patterns for you and your child: you’re in this together and if you put in the work, you’ll both be rewarded! Remember, you won’t only be helping them finish their homework, but teaching them a valuable life skill.