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How to Deal with Tantrums in Your 3-Year-Old

7 year old homework tantrums

By the time your child is 3, you may be a pro at this temper tantrum thing. After all, tantrums can strike whether you’re at home or out and about, and sometimes when you least expect them. It’s natural to be on guard in the early years.

As your child gets older, though, you might wonder how long tantrums last and — more importantly — if your child’s behavior is still considered normal.

Age 3 is still prime tantrum time, but you can start to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s more about tantrums at this age — what they look like, how you can deal with them, and when you might want to make an appointment with your pediatrician.

Why it’s happening

Your preschooler has lots of big feelings and opinions, as well as a growing desire for independence.

Tantrums happen when they don’t know how to fully express themselves or when they don’t know how to do something they desperately want to do. You may also notice outbursts when your child is particularly tired, hungry, or sick.

Kids may start having tantrums around their first birthdays, and it’s common for tantrums to continue until age 2 or 3 — sometimes longer. Still, you may worry that your little one seems out of control or that the tantrums might result in harm. You may even be concerned that your 3-year-old’s tantrums are a sign that something else is going on.

For the most part, tantrums are a completely normal part of life for young kids. They should fade once your child is able to better communicate their feelings and needs.

Related: How I taught my preschool daughter to stand up to bullies

Types of tantrums

It’s helpful to gain an understanding of different types of tantrums so you can decode what your child is trying to tell you.

Barton Schmitt , MD, author of “My Child is Sick!,” categorizes them as follows:

It may be difficult to decode a tantrum just by looking at one. Over time, though, you may notice patterns in timing (before bedtime or between meals) or situations (going to preschool or at a toy store) that will help clue you in.

What to do when one is happening

Before anything else, you’ll want to make sure your child is safe. Particularly when it comes to rage tantrums, this may mean physically removing your child from the area where they’re having their tantrum.

And if injury is a concern, you may want to hold your child in your arms.

One of the best ways to deal with a tantrum is to stay calm and ignore the behavior. If your child is throwing a tantrum to get your attention, ignoring it takes away their audience. At the same time, you’ll want to “ignore” while still paying attention to make sure your child is safe.

If you catch a tantrum early enough, you might be able to redirect your child’s attention to another task or activity. This works well with frustration tantrums.

If you notice your child is having trouble with a toy, consider directing their attention to another age-appropriate toy, puzzle, or game. If you’re in public, you might also try changing your location to get away from an environment, like a swing set, that’s triggering tantrums.

Model verbal expression of feelings

Three-year-olds have an advantage over younger tots in that you can start teaching them ways to cope with their very big emotions. After your child calms down a bit, try saying something like: “Temper tantrums are not the way to get mommy’s attention. Let’s try to use our words to share how we feel.”

While this won’t immediately result in your child divulging their deepest emotions in an intelligible way, you’ll begin the important work needed for them to verbally express their feelings.

Take a time-out

If a tantrum is particularly violent or disruptive, you may want to try giving your child some space through a time-out.

An appropriate range of time for time-outs at this age is between 2 and 5 minutes or around a minute per year old. You can have a designated spot or send your child to their room, provided you feel it’s a safe environment.

Model good coping skills

You may also want to look at how you handle your own troubles during the day. Your child is watching you. So, if you have frequent outbursts, try taking a step back and reacting more calmly.

While you’re at it, when your child does calm down from a tantrum, be sure to praise them for their progress (without giving in to whatever caused the tantrum in the first place).

Be consistent

No matter what you do, consistency is key. It can be tiring when you feel your child is constantly having tantrums, but responding in the same way will pay off in time.

Your child will eventually learn what to expect from you when they lose their cool. And if you’re employing new techniques, like encouraging words, they’ll get practice and continued reinforcement of these critical resolution skills.

Related: There are better disciplinary methods than spanking, doctors say

Tips for avoiding or preventing future tantrums

While you can’t prevent all tantrums, there are some ways you can tweak your routine so that they’re much less likely to happen on a regular basis. Kids tend to have more tantrums when they’re tired, hungry, or sick, so try to give your tot some grace if you suspect any of these issues might be the cause.

Otherwise, try to:

Related: Why positive discipline is better for your child — and you

Signs you need to talk to your pediatrician

Tantrums should start to trail off once your child reaches age 3 1/2 to 4 years old.

Regardless of age, you might wonder if your child’s tantrums are particularly severe or concerning.

There are certainly some cases where either physical or psychological issues may be a factor. For example, tantrums caused by issues with communication or speaking may respond well to Early Intervention help. Other times, your child may respond well to an appointment with a psychologist.

Call your doctor if tantrums:

And there’s really no hard-and-fast rule about contacting your doctor. If you feel that your own stress or frustration level is high or that you just don’t know how to handle the tantrums, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

The bottom line

Parenting preschoolers is tough business. While tantrums can feel like they last an eternity, your child should start to outgrow them as their communication skills improve, and they’re able to participate more in their daily routine.

Whenever you can, respond with calming, comforting energy. Try your best to remember that tantrums are one way your little one is trying to communicate with you. And if you have concerns, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your child’s doctor for support and referral to additional resources.

Last medically reviewed on October 29, 2020

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Home / Expert Articles / Child Behavior Problems / School & Homework

7 Ways to Stop the Parent-Child Power Struggle Over Homework

By debbie pincus, ms lmhc.

7 year old homework tantrums

Do you find yourself in full-on homework battles most nights of the week? It’s no surprise that most children and teens will dig in their heels when it comes to doing schoolwork. Think of it this way: How many kids want to do something that isn’t particularly exciting or pleasant? Most would prefer to be playing video games, riding their bikes or driving around with friends, especially after a long day of school and activities.

As long as you believe you are accountable (or to blame) for your child’s outcome, you are under her control.

The underlying truth here is that you and your child might already be caught in a power struggle over this. Like most parents, you probably want your children to do well and be responsible. Maybe you worry about your child’s future. After all, doing homework and chores are your child’s prime responsibilities, right? Let’s face it, it’s easy to get anxious when your kids are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing—and when you know how important doing schoolwork is. And when you believe you are ultimately responsible for the choices your child makes (and many of us do, consciously and unconsciously), the ante is upped and the tug of war begins.

Nagging, Lecturing and Yelling—But Nothing Changes?

If you’re in the habit of threatening, lecturing, questioning your child, nagging or even screaming at them “do the work!” (and trust me, we’ve all been there), you probably feel like you’re doing whatever it takes to get your kids on track. But when you’re in your child’s head, there’s no room for him to think for himself. And unfortunately, the more anxious you are, the more you’ll hold on in an attempt to control him and push him toward the task at hand. What happens then? Your child will resist by pushing back. That’s when the power struggle ensues. Your child, in essence, is saying, “I own my own life—stay out!” Now the battle for autonomy is getting played out around homework and chores, and exactly what you feared and hoped to avoid gets created.

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This is very aggravating for parents to say the least. Many of us get trapped into thinking we are responsible for our child’s choices in life. As long as you believe you are accountable (or to blame) for your child’s outcome, you are under their control. This is because you will need your child to make those good choices—do the work—so you will feel that you’re doing a good job. Your child’s behavior becomes a reflection of you. You are now at your child’s mercy as you trying to get him to do what you want him to do so you can feel validated as a good parent. Your child does not want to be taking care of your emotional well-being, so he will naturally resist.

When kids are not following through on their responsibilities, it can easily trigger a number of feelings in parents. Note that your child did not cause these feelings, but rather triggered feelings that already belong to you. You might be triggered by a feeling of anger because you feel ineffective or fear that your child will never amount to anything. Or you might feel guilt about not doing a good enough job as a parent. Here’s the truth:  You have to be careful not to let these triggered feelings cause you to push your kids harder so that you can feel better. One of the toughest things parents have to do is learn how to soothe their own difficult feelings rather than ask their children to do that for them. This is the first step in avoiding power struggles.

Why are power struggles important to avoid? They inadvertently create just what you’ve feared. Your child is living his life in reaction to you rather than making his own independent choices. Learning how to make those choices is a necessary skill that develops self-motivation.  How can you avoid ending up in these battles? Here are 7 tips that can really help.

1. You are not responsible for your child’s choices

Understand that you are not responsible for the choices your child makes in his life. It’s impossible to take on that burden without a battle for control over another human being. Measure your success as a parent by how you behave — not by what your child chooses to do or not do. Doing a good job as a parent means that you have done all that you can do as a responsible person. It does not mean that you have raised a perfect person who has made all the right choices. Once you really get this, you won’t be so anxious about your child’s behaviors, actions, and decisions. You will be able to see your child from objective, not subjective, lenses and therefore be able to guide their behavior, because you’ll have seen what he actually needs.

2. You cannot make someone care—but you can influence them

You cannot get a person to do or care about what they don’t want to do or care about. Our kids have their own genetics, roles, and ultimately their own free will. So focusing on getting your child to change or getting something from her will not work long-term and will most often turn into a power struggle. What you can do is try to influence your child using only what is in your own hands. For example, when it comes to homework, you can structure the environment to create the greatest probability that the work will get done.

3. Think about the “fences” you’d like to create for your child

Take charge of your own best thinking and decisions rather than trying to control your child’s. Pause, think and decide what fences you want to create for your child. What are your bottom lines? Know what you can and can’t do as a parent. Recognize that what will make the biggest difference to your child (and helping him become a responsible kid who makes good choices) will be learning how to inspire him, not control him. Building a positive relationship with your kids is your best parenting strategy. Children want to please the people in their lives that they have loving feelings toward. You cannot ultimately make them accept your values, but you can inspire them to do so. Getting a child to listen to you is primarily about setting up the conditions under which they choose to do so. In order to do this, make a conscious effort to sprinkle your relationship with more positive interactions than negative ones. Hug, show affection, laugh together, and spend time with one another. Point out your appreciations most instead of constantly correcting, instructing, teaching, yelling, complaining, or reprimanding.  Don’t get me wrong, you need to correct and reprimand as a parent. But make a conscious effort so that every time you do this, you will follow it with many positive interactions. The human brain remembers the negatives much more than the positives. Most kids will be happy to listen and be guided by the people in their lives who they like and respect.

4. Should you give consequences when kids don’t do homework?

Parents always ask whether or not they should give consequences to kids if they don’t do their homework—or instead just let the chips fall where they may.  I think you can give consequences, and that might work temporarily—maybe even for a while. Perhaps your child will learn to be more responsible or to use anxiety about the consequences to motivate themselves. You can’t change someone else, but consequences might help them get some homework done. You can’t “program” your child to care about their work, but you can create a work environment that promotes a good work ethic. Kids who regularly get their homework done and study do better throughout school and overall in life.

5. How structuring the environment can encourage studying

Again, you can’t make a child do anything that he doesn’t feel like doing, but you can structure his environment to create the greatest probability that the work will get done. When your child’s grades slip, or you find that he’s not getting his work in on time, you are automatically “invited in” to supervise and help him get on track. You can make sure that for certain periods of time, he will not be able to do anything other than schoolwork. The rule is during that time, no electronics are allowed—just homework and studying. By doing this, you are providing a structure to do what your child probably can’t do yet for himself. The hour and a half that you set aside should be a time when you will be around to enforce the rules that you have set. Give a fixed amount of time and once that time is up, your child is free to go elsewhere, homework done or not. Stay consistent with this plan, even if he fights you on it. This plan will accomplish the possibility that your child will get some homework done and maybe over time, create some better work habits. That’s all. This plan should be in place, whether or not he has homework. He can read, review or study if he doesn’t have any during that time. Let him know that these rules will change when his grades begin to reflect his potential and when you are not getting negative reports from teachers about missing homework. When he accomplishes this, tell him you will be happy to have him be fully in charge of his own homework.

6. Parents of Defiant kids

 Extremely defiant kids who don’t seem to care about consequences really try their parents. Some of these kids suffer from ADHD, ODD, learning disabilities, emotional issues and many other issues. Defiance has become a way for them to try and solve their problems. With defiant kids, parents need to be very cognizant of working to develop positive relationships, no matter how difficult. Above all, work to avoid getting pulled into a power struggle. Your child will need many more learning opportunities and more rewards and negative consequences—and more time to learn these lessons than less defiant child. And if nothing changes, and your child continues to be defiant, you must continue to work on your own patience and be thoughtful about your own bottom line. Most important, continue to love your child and keep showing up.

7. Your simple message to your child

Be clear, concise and direct. Your simple message to your kids, which does not require lectures or big sit down conversations is, “Your job is to take care of your responsibilities, which includes getting your homework done and helping out in the house. That’s my expectation for you. Once you’ve done that each day, you are welcome to do what you’d like.” Remember, as a parent your job is to essentially help your child do her job.

Related content: What to Do When Your Child or Teen is Suspended or Expelled from School “My Child Refuses to Do Homework” — How to Stop the Nightly Struggle Over School Work

About Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC

For more than 25 years, Debbie has offered compassionate and effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Debbie is the creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM™ program and is also the author of numerous books for young people on interpersonal relations.

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Frustrated mom This is by far the very worst parenting advice I have ever heard. Can it be anymore vague and general? There’s literally nothing in this article that deals with actually doing homework! In fact it is more so a guide on things that most parents already know and should More be doing! The other part of this article is basically saying that you should allow your child to be their own authority. Do kids not need to learn to obey rules in today’s world? A lesson in life is that your children aren’t always going to be given a choice and when they are given a choice, it doesn’t mean they’re going to like any of the possible outcomes. Allowing them to think they have a choice in order to circumvent basic responsibilities is completely and utterly counter productive! I had to do homework when I was a kid whether I liked it or not! I knew this even as a small child. Children historically do not make the best decisions on their own. There’s a reason we have an age where it’s considered by society that you’re officially an adult. Until children reach that age, they don’t have a choice!

I am a special education preschool educator. Yes, I do send homework home for the following reasons:1. It starts good habits relating to reinforcing skills taught at school.

2. It allows me to educate and inform parents on what skills children need to be learning.

3. Some skills need more effort to be learned- such as name writing.

4. I want my kiddos to have a headstart and school is important! Homework is a way of getting kids ahead.

Hands down- my kiddos who learn skills at home- for example "economics homework" are more likely to master this skill when taught at school AND at home! It helps! Trust me! and all kiddos undergo assessments when entering kindergarten and often it is considered a predictor in success for the year!

georgeesmith Very methodical, can give a try to make it possible :)

lisakelper9 Sounds good but very hard to implement in reality. But still its a good attempt.

JackRusso1 I disagree with this as a whole. This person has no idea what children are really like. Children are stressed a lot, nagging them won't help. They don't want to talk about homework at home because then the parent asks irritating questions. It's not that they don't care, it's that More they need to do things on their own. When a parent is constantly on their backs the child gets stressed out. In my eyes, few parents understand this. Believe it or not...I'm 13 and I can do better then you. This isn't a helpful list of tips, it's a list of how to make the situation worse!

Oh my goodness!   This all sounds very charming but has no real application!  

Let me give you my scenario of raising a "Defiant" child:

Our homework structure is that she work at her well organized desk...quite charming in fact.  

She is expected to work 15 minutes per subject which is a grand total of an hour and 30 min.

No tech unless all work is complete and no matter what, no tech before 6:30 pm.

Down time for reading (which she loves) is after homework and her home chore is done.

we have a rewards currency.  We have a consequence system.  

Guess what?  It is not that simple.  She will waste her time "studying" so we require her to log notes on what she is reading so does not just sit and stare at her books for an hour and a half (which she will do).  We periodically check her log as she is working and help review info.  Again...quite charming.

She is failing most of her subjects because she does not bring ANY assigned work home.  None.  And then she lies about the work that we track down.  

She is not internally nor externally motivated. 

Sometimes a child is not emotionally mature enough to handle things like this and their brains are unable to really connect action and consequence.  Sometimes you need to let your child fail.  I hear from her teachers "I have no idea what to do with _________"  My response is....there is nothing YOU can do.  Only what ______ can do and she chooses not to.

A child who is unable to focus on learning is focusing on something else instead.  For my daughter it is the undying need for acceptance....peer acceptance.  So how to retrain the brain is tough.  Wish me luck because THERE IS NO ANSWER!  THERE IS NO FIX!

I often wonder about the value of homework. While I appreciate the article and noted some key takeaways here that will be very helpful to me, such as "Learn how to inspire, not control" and "Measure your success as a parent by how you behave"...I often find myself yelling at my seven year old angel because she just doesn't have an interest in learning..and then I spend the rest of the night disgusted with myself for being angry with her. She is the sweetest, most lovable little girl filled with street smarts. But she's behind in school, slow with reading, and fights me constantly with her homework.

I stepped up over the summer and had assignments all summer long so she could hopefully catch up. But little has changed. She continues to have no interest, which I interpret as lazy. She would much rather watch Netflix or play; something I try to balance. I wasn't a great student in school but I did love homework. I hated the "institution" and rebelled against control. But I've managed to make a good life for myself because I've been highly motivated, driven and disciplined. My concern is she doesn't seem to have those traits...yet. It might still be too soon. However, I struggle to push too hard (contrary to how it sounds) because I'm a big advocate of work-life balance.

She is busy all day with school and activities and the idea of having her do more when she gets home before she rests, plays or unwinds, seems like corporal punishment. Yes. And I'm not dramatic. But really? I get the importance of establishing a good work ethic. However,  I work all day. When I get home, I'm tired. I take a break before I tend to house chores. Nothing gets neglected but I pace myself. I also take home work but that's done later in the evening, after I've tended to my family AND had some down time. Don't kids deserve down time too?

I hate putting this pressure on my child, yet I know the pressure she feels being a slower reader, struggling with phonetics, etc. is as great if not worse. I can see her as a very successful person later on because she has very strong social skills and a kindness that far surpasses most of the other kids I've seen. But I struggle with finding that balance between pushing academics and just letting time prove itself. I am a big advocate of moderation and balance, yet I really struggle with applying that value in today's academic world which starts as young as kindergarten!

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7 year old homework tantrums

Inside the ADHD mind

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Teens with ADHD

Q: Homework Triggers Epic Tantrums from My Child

Sometimes, the mere thought of buckling down for homework after a long day of school is enough to invite meltdowns and anguish from students with adhd and executive function challenges. you know they are tired and worn out, but still the work must be done — and without nightly terrors. try these tricks to defuse the situation..

Leslie Josel

Q: “Many nights, my son falls apart at the mere mention of homework. Or, he convinces himself an assignment is too difficult and gives up – after a major meltdown. He doesn’t want to get a zero for not completing work, but is completely blocked emotionally. He feels like he’s too stupid. How can I help him recover after an emotional breakdown?”

When a child suffers a meltdown at 7pm, we as parents focus on getting through the meltdown. But what we need to do is rewind the day back to 8am, and think of all of the things that led to this point. Where is the break down beginning? What is leading us to this point? Typically these major tantrums don’t happen out of the blue.

Homework doesn’t start when your child sits down to do homework. It starts when he first walks into his first class of the day. Does he hear what the teacher had to say? Does he have his homework from the night before? Does he even know what is being asked of him? Does he need some systems and strategies in place to refuel his executive functions after depleting them all day at school?

My son had a similar issue. He was explosive about getting homework done. Here are a couple things that worked for us:

[ Free Download: How Well Does Your Teen Regulate Emotions? ]

Not every strategy works for every student – throw a few things against the wall and see what sticks. This advice came from “ Getting It Done: Tips and Tools to Help Your Child Start — and Finish — Homework ,” an ADDitude webinar lead by  Leslie Josel  in September 2018 that is now available for free replay.

Do you have a question for ADDitude’s Dear Teen Parenting Coach? Submit your question or challenge here.

The opinions and suggestions presented above are intended for your general knowledge only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your own or your child’s condition.

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What to do when a 7-year-old melts down about homework?

7 year old homework tantrums

Q: Is there any way to get through to a 7-year-old in second grade that the amount of time she spends melting down and yelling about a simple school assignment that she could've mostly finished during class time and chose not to is longer than the amount of time it would take to do the assignment? We have never been super strict about homework, mostly because we thought it was inappropriate before, but now it's actually classwork and not homework, and her teachers are overall understanding. But occasionally, she needs to be able to accomplish some schoolwork without falling apart, right?

A: What a great question. Has there ever been a way to convince 7-year-olds that they have wasted their time screaming? In my time of working with families for about 20 years, as well as parenting three children, the answer is no, not really. The essence of what you want, which is what every parent wants, is for your child to understand your point of view, and hence, obey you without fits or questions. A wonderful dream, really. And I’m with you: It’s maddening to watch your child “waste” their time melting down when you know it is well within their power to just do the work. But we aren’t really talking about homework here. Allow me to explain.

How can I get my third-grader to focus on online school?

I don’t know whether this is a learning-at-home pandemic issue or whether your child is in school and this is spillover, but I can assure you either way: Your child is not making a conscious choice to melt down or be a quitter. I don’t know why, but your child is overwhelmed and needs support. It could be that she has an undiagnosed learning issue. It could be hunger. It could be a reaction to your pushing and pushing to complete the assignment. It could be that she’s bored and doesn’t want to revisit the material. I have no idea why your daughter is upset, but you need to reshape your goals.

To move forward, you have to admit that just because you now care about the schoolwork doesn’t mean your daughter does. To go from zero attention to now expecting enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be working, so stop expecting that from her.

We see that she’s resisting this, so get down to the why.

First, call the teacher and clarify what’s happening in school, as well as what the teacher expects. Ask if the teacher sees any executive functioning issues. Explain the behaviors you’re seeing at home, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Next, be sure that the timing of the classwork makes sense for your daughter. Has she had downtime? Is she fed? Has she moved her body?

Finally, call a mini-meeting with her, and set up a plan. Your ultimate goal isn’t to raise a child who completes classwork; your ultimate goal is to raise a child who enjoys learning and is motivated to do it. Let’s go slow and steady on this classwork issue; she’s only 7.

Step back and reassess. You’ll get there. Good luck.

Send questions about parenting to [email protected]

More from Lifestyle :

Should a first-grader be able to remember lessons learned at online school?

How can I keep my child — and myself — on track during online kindergarten?

He hates doing third-grade homework. Should a parent force it?

Our 8-year-old is bored and whiny. How can we change this?



How to Stop Homework Tantrums


Your child may struggle with their homework from time to time. Sometimes, these frustrations lead to emotional breakdowns and tantrums. When your child starts to scream and throw themselves on the floor, you need to take action immediately. Do not give your child the chance to build poor habits. They will just continue to push boundaries and eventually completely refuse to do their homework. Or, they will develop an attitude that makes it very hard to get through their homework. When you take care of your child’s homework tantrums at a young age, it will help them build long-term lifestyle practices.

1. Develop habits and routines.

One example of an easy habit to implement is five minutes of practicing a certain skill each day            once or twice per day. By starting a simple practice every day that doesn’t take much time, your            child will likely not refuse. When practicing this skill even as little as five minutes in the morning every day, you will begin to see a major improvement in your child’s ability. 

You can create a habit that will exist at any time of day. If your child is learning   mentals   on the abacus, then give them a few problems from the Math Genie book in the morning at breakfast and right before bedtime. If your child is learning about nouns, verbs, and adjectives, then you can point out different things while you are driving and ask them to identify which part of speech they are. Simple habits like this are easy for your child to accomplish and will make learning easier and fun.

      2.   Give plenty of positive reinforcement. 

If you know that your child is likely to feel overwhelmed, sit down with them to do their homework. Remind them that they have as much time as they need. You can tell them that you will stay there and help them through it all. If it’s not possible for you to help them through their homework, perhaps you can just sit next to them as moral support. 

As soon as they complete a few problems or an entire page, reward them. Tell them that by completing their homework, they will keep getting smarter. When things get difficult, remain patient and tell your child to work slowly through the problems. Keep rewarding them with positive body language like smiles, direct eye contact, and nodding. This will help your child feel like they are pleasing you.

Depending on the age of your child, you can tailor your positive reinforcement to their needs. If they are really struggling, you may want to reinforce their success after each problem. 

3.   Keep off-limit objects out of sight.

When it’s time for homework, there should be no potential distractions that may cause your child to lose their focus. TVs should be off, and phones should be put away. This includes your phone, too. If possible, create a designated space for your child to complete their homework.The kitchen table can suffice if you don’t have a desk. Just make sure it is a distraction free location that has everything they need. 

Be sure that no toys or games are in the same area or room as your child. You can motivate them to stay focused. Promise them they can play with their favorite games or toys immediately after finishing their homework assignments.

When your child is in their classroom at school, they are surrounded by other children who are completing their assignments as well. This helps them to remain focused. The learning is organized and everything is timed and structured. If your child is currently adapting to remote learning, you should try to replicate their school environment as much as you can at home.

4.   Avoid Procrastination.

 Set a schedule that will include what time of day every day your child will work on their                          homework. Figure out what works best for your child. Maybe they like to start with their                          favorite subjects to get it out of the way. Or, it could be the opposite where they want to use                    all their brain power on the tough stuff. Talk to your child about what works best for them.                      Avoid procrastination and complete homework in a timely manner. Homework should be                        done before television and preferably before dinner. The later into the evening it gets, the                        less interested your child will be with their homework.

 Keeping a regular schedule for your child is the best habit you can teach them. You can keep your          child’s schedule posted on the refrigerator broken up hour by   hour. This will help remind your              child when they should complete their homework by, and what time they can expect to have                  dinner. The schedule should also include blocks of free time. This will help give your child                        something to look forward to, especially when they are struggling with their homework. Don’t                forget to schedule breaks during homework time. Implement a morning and nighttime study                  routine when they are young. Before you know it, they will carry the schedule out on their own.

5. Give Breaks During Homework .

Depending on the age of your child, you can determine how long the break should be. Kids                      typically become tired mid-way through their homework. This could possibly spiral into them acting out or worse, having a tantrum. If you child has a block of one hour for homework, give them a five minute break at the halfway mark. Make sure your child knows they will always receive a break. This will help them to stay focused and not become  overwhelmed. During their break, they may use the bathroom, get a snack, or stretch. Do not allow any electronics during this time. 

6. Use the Pomodoro technique with a timer.

The Pomodoro Technique is the idea that the brain can only do intense focus for short bursts of time. This is a simple and effective method to improve your child’s ability to focus and their homework habits. All you need to do is set a timer for twenty-five minutes. This does not mean your child needs to complete everything within a twenty-five minute period. You can break up different tasks your child needs to accomplish into twenty-five minute bursts of time. 

You and your child should sit down and discuss how you can break up all their tasks into twenty-            five minute increments. For example, one page of their math homework may take them twenty-            five minutes. After the timer rings, they get a break and will then move on to a completely different subject or task. If your child anticipates needing longer than twenty five minute increments, then allow them to take a break after the first twenty-five minutes and revisit that task for an additional twenty-five minutes and so on.

7. Plan out large projects together.

Big projects may be overwhelming. Help you child break projects up into smaller, more manageable chunks. If they have a research project, help them  plan out what they need to do over the course of a month. When you teach them how to plan in advance from a young age, they will be more motivated to stay on top of their smaller tasks each day. This will teach them how to manage their time long-term.

8. Make homework fun.

You can make homework fun in different ways. If you are unable to physically help your child with their work, maybe you can set up a work station next to your child and work on your own tasks. This will remind them that you are there to support them and you are both completing your work together. You can also try your best to engage all of your child’s senses. Remember when fidget spinners were in the hands of every child across America? While engaging touch, sense, smell, or sight, it actually may help your child focus. Keep a stress ball in your child’s homework area or some play dough they can handle while they’re working. 

For children who have a harder time staying on task, there are additional tactics to help them stay focused. You may be able to attach various textured strips under your child’s desk or chair. This can include things like velcro strips, “fringy fidgets,” or varied ribbons that hang  from the desk, etc. Other items include a “desk buddy sensory ruler,” “fidgeting foot bands,” and so on. These tactics can help individuals of all ages remain focused.

                 9. Use consequences and   not punishments   if homework is not done.

When homework doesn’t get done, you should implement consequences right away. Teach your child that there are positive and negative consequences in life depending on their actions. Punishments may include actions ranging from spanking to washing your child’s mouth out with soap.

Punishments serve to embarrass your child and often focus on what they should not be doing. They are also overly severe and unrelated to the root problem causing the unwanted behavior. Depending on how severe a punishment is, it may cause your child to feel bad about themselves as a person. This will prevent them from paying attention to the action you punished them for. When your child has low self-esteem, they will be less likely to comply with the tasks you ask of them.

Consequences help children focus on how they can improve themselves in the future. They are directly related to the behavior and teaches the child the reality of what their actions will lead to. Consequences should mirror what the action was. For example, if your child misbehaves at school, a consequence would be you taking away their electronics for the evening. This shows them when they do something they know is wrong, they will have to face unpleasant consequences. This will help them to understand what will happen if they do this again.

Sometimes, you can let your child face natural consequences, based on your discretion. An example of this would be when your child refuses to study and then does poorly on their test. This helps your child understand how their actions are naturally connected to consequences, and will hopefully divert them from misbehaving.

When you begin to implement these eight tactics, you will see your child develop more independence, become more disciplined, and gain confidence. 

-Math Genie Team

Topics: Emotional Development , Child Development , Better Focus , Homework Tantrums , Parent-Child Relationships , Homework Tips , Homework Help , Remote Learning

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No Guilt Mom

Because the Best Mom is a Happy Mom

3 Things to Do When Your Kid Cries over Homework

Published: August 12, 2019   /   Updated: December 3, 2020   /   by JoAnn   /  

“Noooo… I can’t do it.  I don’t have the time!!”

Have you heard this from your child when she sits down to do homework?  My gosh, it wrecks me.

I can feel her overwhelm. What can I do but jump in and try to help?

“It’s ok sweetie, let’s write down all the things you have to do to get it out of your head.”

“NO!” she pouts back, “That won’t help.  I don’t know any of this and I have to get started now.”

7 year old homework tantrums

What do you do with that? 

You see the problem, you know the steps to take to fix it and yet your child pushes you away like you couldn’t possibly know what she’s talking about or what she’s dealing with.

I have a feeling its what our parents used to think about us.

Homework can become one neverending nightmare.  What do we do when our kids struggle with it and yet refuse our help?

Second, we need to prepare with a great response.

Read : How to Stay Calm and Win the Homework Battle

#1 We step back.

Kids want autonomy.   They want control over their lives.

Sometimes our well-meaning suggestions threaten that sense of control – especially as they get older.

7 year old homework tantrums

FYI: This post contains affiliate links to products I love and recommend.  It costs you nothing extra if you purchase through my link, but I may get a small commission .

In her book Untangled: Guiding Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood, Lisa Damour, Ph.D. tells the story of a girl Trina, whose mom tried to control her homework.  Well-meaning mom would stand over Trina making sure every problem was answered and correct.

Well, Trina did her homework.  But then, she refused to turn it in.

Only after Trina’s mom stepped back from homework to make it truly her daughter’s responsibility did Trina start turning in assignments.

Read: How to stop the homework fight even if your kid outright refuses to work

How to step back effectively

How did she do this?  She offered her help, but then tied Trina’s grades to the level of maturity she showed.  The more maturity she showed by her participation in school, the more privileges she had outside of it.

This consequence makes sense because 1) Trina’s parents needed to know they could trust her and 2) They truly wanted Trina to succeed.  It wasn’t punitive but rather a stepping stool to growing up.

With homework, we can offer our help but then we need to step back when our kids refuse to take it.

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#2 We can’t reason with emotions

When I don’t want to do something—like, really don’t want to do something—I get emotional. You may do it, too. If you ever want to cry just thinking about doing all the dishes piling up in the sink, this will speak to you. 

We’re stressed. We’re overwhelmed. It’s a natural reaction and some people are better handling it than others.

Our kids get this way, too. After all the after-school activities and demands on their time, kids get understandably tired.

Kendra, a mom from Chandler, Arizona, says this is exactly how her son reacts to homework. She explains that, “if he’s mad and tired, he’s writing mad and tired.”

When our kids cry and look miserable, it triggers a huge protective instinct in us parents. We hate seeing them this way and think of any way we can make it better. Sometimes that means giving in and releasing them from homework for the night; or maybe it means you’re by their side as their personal cheerleader – cheering them through math, one painful equation at a time.

“C’mon you can do it. Just one more. Just one more.”

I release you from that responsibility. Not only does it stress you out, but your kiddo can feel your stress as well.

When emotions get high…

Instead, take a break.  There is no reason that kids need to power through homework in elementary school and middle school.

Is your kid overwhelmed? Take the homework away.

One of two things will happen:

When this happens, you know that the tantrum was manipulative.  It was to get something out of you, whether it was the answers or your step-by-step coaching. 

#3 We need to teach kids to motivate themselves

We ‘re all forced to do unpleasant tasks (hello, pooper scoop in the backyard!) And yet, by the time we’re adults, we know how to push through those less-than-desirable tasks to achieve the results we’re after.

Read: The Four Skills Kids Must Master in Elementary School Homework

7 year old homework tantrums

In fact, this is a necessary qualification to be successful. If success were all fun, everyone would get there.

We must treat homework the same.

As a parent, we don’t have the time or energy to be a constant cheerleader to our kids. 

And, even if we did, it wouldn’t serve them in the long run. 

That’s OK because I’ll teach you strategies that you can then teach your children on how to motivate themselves through difficult (and boring) assignments. 

The Answer to Homework Hell

When our kids complain through nightly homework, it digs into us.  I’m hesitant to say it causes us physical pain, but it kind of does.

However, by stepping back, not trying to reason with emotions and teaching our kids how to motivate themselves, we will see improvement.

Our kids will fight us less.

Homework time will be less of a dreaded task. 

If homework is a struggle and you need support as a parent, go get my book Drama Free Homework: A Parent’s Guide to Eliminating Homework Battles and Raising Focused Kids. In it, I walk you through creating a homework routine that’s right for your family.

Want me to PERSONALLY teach your child the necessary homework skills?  Then, Homework 911 is for you. 

7 year old homework tantrums

Be a Happier Mom Grab your step-by-step plan to delegate more to your family.

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Hand in Hand Parenting

Help for homework tantrums.

homework yawn

For a number of days in a row, when homework time approached in the evening, my son met it with resistance and frustration. I would see a range of reactions, from announcing that it was boring and he wasn’t going to do it, to kicking and yelling and crying over his homework. I noticed in myself how inflexible I was around homework time – I was frustrated that he wouldn’t just sit down and do the assignments that looked to me like they were easy enough to do with his eyes closed! It got to the point where I could not touch homework time – we just had to wait until my husband got home to do it with him, as he was somehow able to put more play and lightness to it and succeeded in helping our son get it completed. I could see that this was going to be an emotional project for the whole family and needed a new strategy fast.

I started on this issue in my own listening partnerships . I got listening about how frustrating homework was, how intolerable my sons behavior was, especially when it was always topics I know he is good at and have seen him complete with ease! I got listening around how when I was his age homework was easy for me, so why did it have to be such a struggle for him? And finally, how I don’t like that homework even exists! It cuts into our family time in the evenings, and more often than not it IS as boring as my son says it is.

Next, I made a point to do Special Time with my son before my husband got home to do homework with him. Honestly I was happy to do Special Time in place of homework with my son, it was much more enjoyable. We would wrestle, or pillow fight, or play his favorite video game depending on what he would choose. I started to notice that homework time seemed to go much easier when he would get this extra connection. I saw these as little victories along the way, but still I found that writing homework of any kind continued to be a frustrating struggle.

One evening my son pulled out his spelling and writing assignments and asked for my help. He was already upset about the subject of the homework before he even pulled it out of his backpack. I asked him to read me the instructions while I was cooking something in the kitchen. He became more and more distracted and agitated. I told him it was time to stop playing with what he was playing with and sit down to focus on homework. “Then come help me!!” He screamed. He screamed this again, and I put down what I was doing to come in closer to him. He kept yelling “Help me! Help me!” over and over again, and the closer I got to him while offering my help with my words, the louder he yelled it. He was kicking and screaming on the floor and I just continued to say “I am here to help you,” while he continued to scream for help.

This went on for some time and I continued to stay close, holding a gentle arm around his baby brother to make sure he did not accidentally get kicked. I acknowledged that homework was frustrating, that he works really hard all day at school. He screamed and kicked, and cried a small amount. After a while his system began to settle down and relax. He turned to a toy to play with and I let him take his time to play and relax while I went back to the kitchen to cook dinner.

By the time dinner was done, he had returned to the table and quietly completed his homework on his own. He was very proud of his work, and showed me each part.  In these last few weeks, I have continued my connection tools all in combination, and it has meant that I have been able to help him with his homework. He now will often complete it before my husband gets home and we get extra time to play and connect as a whole family.

— Natalie Thiel , Certified  Parenting by Connection  Instructor

7 year old homework tantrums

If you have challenges around homework or setting limits, consider our online Setting Limits and Building Cooperation course.

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They Are The Future: Child Psychology and Parenting Support

7 Easy Ways to Manage Temper Tantrums in Your 7 Year Old

Hayley Vaughan Smith, Person Centred Counsellor and The Ridge Practice and Everlief Child Psychology

Would you be surprised to see a 7 year old throwing tantrums in a public place?  The answer is probably yes, unless your child is one of them.

Whilst far less common than toddler tantrums, tantrums in older children can happen and can be distressing for parents of children to witness and experience.

The good news is that there are lots of effective ways to support your child’s emotional development , helping to reduce the frequency of or eliminate their tantrums.

We’ve devised 7 easy ways to manage temper tantrums in your 7 year old, aiming to arm both you and them with practical and sustainable skills which will hopefully lead to a calmer family life.

Why Do Children Have Temper Tantrums?

Most children have occasional tantrum behaviours.  In fact, no matter what age, most children act out, show opposition or defiance or have meltdowns. This behaviour is normal and often a sign of positive character traits such as assertiveness and standing up for what they believe in.

When tantrums tantrums occur, they are never pleasant but they always happen for a reason.  Frequent seven year old tantrums can be seen as a red flag that your child may be having a tough time with certain things, such as behaviour, learning, or managing strong feelings.

Identifying the triggers for frequent tantrums can sometimes be obvious.  For example, starting homework, leaving a video game to sit up for supper, being told it’s bedtime.  Sometimes however, tantrums can seem to happen for no reason at all.

One key reason for children having temper tantrums is that they haven’t yet learned to manage huge emotions such as frustration or jealousy. They may not yet have certain key skills such as the ability to explain how they’re feeling in words, or the ability to spot the emotion as it rises and take action to prevent it escalating.

Transition and Stress

Is your seven year-old under stress ? One reason your child can’t yet manage big emotions might be that they actually have bigger emotions than other kids their age. Why might this be the case? Two reasons.

Firstly, they may be very sensitive. They may feel emotions more deeply than others. This is not a bad thing at all, but your child needs extra support to build emotion management skills.

seven year old child

The second reason why your child has bigger emotions than others could be that they have more stress than others. By stress, I mean any triggers or events which their brain experiences as stress. Has your child experienced any of these (or similar) changes lately?

If your answer is yes to one or more, then your child may be under a high level of stress. When stressed, your child will be on high alert for danger, because their brain feels under threat. Their body will have more stress chemicals floating around, keeping them alert for danger, such as cortisol. They will find it harder to relax, sleep and enjoy life. They are more likely to have prolonged, severe tantrums. In time, the brain can adjust to changes and stress levels will reduce, as will the length and severity of the tantrums. For more information about helping your child with stress, read our article: How Stressed is Your Child?

What is Normal Behaviour For a 7 Year Old?

Developmentally, a 7 year old should typically be past the age where regular tantrums are happening.  As your child’s language skills develop and their ability to regulate their emotions improve, they are able to think more rationally and express stronger emotions in a more appropriate way.

7 year old tantrums

They may lash out with frustration or defiance if they are asked to do something they don’t particularly want to do, or if they don’t get their own way.  By the age of 7 however, they have usually learnt basic self-regulation skills that will help them process scenarios and behave in an acceptable way.

Is There a Difference Between a Tantrum and a Meltdown?

The words tantrum and meltdown are often used interchangeably, even by professionals. The word meltdown is often (but not always) associated with autistic children. It is used when the brain is completely overloaded by their environment or demands, and they lose control of their emotions. It does not always involve anger.

In contrast a temper tantrum involves extreme anger and frustration. It is often associated with wilful behaviour, whereas a meltdown is considered something out of a child’s control. However I would argue that in most temper tantrums the child has fully lost control.

You can read more about meltdowns in our article on how to prevent meltdowns in children .

When Should I be Concerned About my 7 Year Old’s Tantrums?

Young children will push and test boundaries. Most are likely to experience a range of emotions which they will need to learn to understand and work with.  This is a normal part of child development.

7 year old tantrums or aggressive behaviour may be an indicator that your child is dealing with underlying issues that may impact their mental health.

For example:

If your child is having frequent 7 year old tantrums, behavioural problems or strong emotions that you are worried about, it may be wise to seek professional help.

happy seven year old boy outside

Your GP can help you to determine whether a referral for an assessment by a mental health professional would be appropriate.  This could be a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). You can also find a qualified private mental health professional such as a Clinical Psychologist to make an assessment.  This article will help you identify what type of professional you need , and how to find them.

Why is my 7 year old so angry all of a sudden?

What if your child suddenly starts getting angry?

What could the possible causes be?

There could be a number of reasons, so try to establish any common triggers that might be causes if temper tantrums such as:-

From here, think about what you can do together to take any stress out of these scenarios.  Prevention is one of your most powerful tools. For example, work on a morning routine to manage getting ready for school.  This might include:-

Cognitive and Emotional Development at 7 Years Old

Your child is growing up and their brain is growing at a pace too.  At 7, your child’s cognitive and learning will be on a pretty fast trajectory, so too will their emotional development.  However, these two areas of development don’t always happen in parallel.

how to help a 7 year old throwing tantrums

In my counselling therapy clinic I often see children who have good verbal and communication skills, but don’t yet understand their emotions.  This can often leave them feeling scared or anxious about how they feel or behave.  Conversely, I also see kids who are pretty sophisticated in their understanding of emotions but who don’t yet have the learned vocabulary to describe them.

These incongruences can sometimes lead to frustration, anger, withdrawal or cries for help in the form of meltdowns or tantrums.

The first step in reducing outbursts is to understand what the common triggers are and think about how you can minimise the likelihood of an outburst.

We have devised 7 ways to manage temper tantrums in your 7 year old.  Whilst not an exhaustive list, these are good foundational tips and techniques that you can try out.

At 7 years old, your child is in an active developmental phase, so give them and you the space to learn from their experiences. As they understand themselves better, the tantrums typically come to end.

Remember, power struggles with your child or not being able to prevent or stop a tantrum, doesn’t make you a bad parent. It can be tiring and stressful for you. Take a moment to breathe and centre yourself. If it’s safe to do so you can even take a few minutes for yourself by stepping out of the room. Never compare yourself to other parents. Never compare your child to other children. Your family’s circumstances are unique.

Further Reading

How To Deal With An Argumentative Child {8 Expert Tips}

5 Actions To Avoid When Your Child Has A Meltdown Or Outburst

Managing Difficult Behaviour At Home

Why Does My Child Act Differently At School?

Separation Anxiety at School Drop-Off: The 7 Most Effective Strategies

Hayley Vaughan Smith is a Person Centred Counsellor based at  The Ridge Practice  and  Everlief Child Psychology .

Are you the parent of a 6-16 year-old? Join They Are The Future’s free Facebook group for regular tips on supporting teens and pre-teens with their mental health! Join the group:  Parent Tips for Positive Child Mental Health UK .

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7 year old homework tantrums


Parenting For Brain

How To Motivate Child To Do Homework (7 Practical Tips)

By: Author Pamela Li Pamela Li is an author, Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Parenting For Brain. Her educational background is in Electrical Engineering (MS, Stanford University) and Business Management (MBA, Harvard University). Learn more

Posted on Last updated: Jan 31, 2023 Evidence Based

“How to motivate a child to do homework” is on almost every parent’s mind right now. Getting kids to do homework is not always painful. In fact, it can be outright fun!

In this article, I will share the secret on motivating your child to not only do homework but also love homework. Yes, you read it right. It is possible to love doing school work. No yelling, screaming, threatening or crying required.

Why Do Kids Hate Homework

Let’s start with kindergarteners.

For many children, kindergarten is their first formal experience in school.

Kindergarten has changed a lot over the last decade.

Once a place for socialization and play, kindergartens now emphasize the importance of learning to read, to count, to sit still and to listen to the teachers.

Going from playing all day at home to behaving or sitting still in a structured environment for hours at a time is a tough transition.

To add to that, many kindergartens also assign homework to these little children, further reducing their available play time.

It’s no wonder that some kindergarteners are not motivated to do homework.

Woman happily watches girl do homework. She gets 4 year old to do kids homework.

Homework Motivation

Remember when your child was still a toddler, he/she would get into anything and everything?

They were curious and they were eager to learn about everything around them.

They were passionate learners .

Toddler crawl on the floor happily. He is curious and explores on his own. toddler homework is not hard to motivate. how to get your child to do homework without a fight

Children naturally love learning, if we provide the right environment and motivate them appropriately.

Here’s the problem…

When you hear the word “motivate”, what do you think of it?

If you’re thinking about toys, money, iPad time, points, stickers, etc., you’re not alone.

Rewards (and sometimes punishments) are many parents’ go-to motivators.

Parents love them because they work almost instantly.

You present the prize and the child complies to get it. Problem solved.

Simple and effective.

But very soon, you will notice some unintended results.

Here is an example.

Some years ago, after a lecture, Professor Mark Lepper was approached by a couple who told him about a system of rewards they had set up for their son, which had produced much improved behavior at the dinner table. “He sits up straight and eats his peas and the Brussels sprouts and he is really very well behaved,” they reported. Until, that is, the first time the family dined at a nice restaurant. The child looked around, picked up a crystal glass from the table and asked, “How many points not to drop this?” A fine example, says Dr. Lepper, of the detrimental effects of over-reliance on rewards to shape children’s behavior. Mark Lepper: Intrinsic Motivation, Extrinsic Motivation and the Process of Learning By Christine VanDeVelde Luskin, Bing Nursery School at Stanford University

This example is far from rare.

In fact, it is very common when a child is motivated purely by an external reward.

Once the reward is removed, the child will no longer be interested in continuing the behavior.

What’s the right way to motivate our children?

The answer is intrinsic motivation .

Intrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity for its pure enjoyment.

This enjoyment comes from within an individual and is a psychological satisfaction derived from performing the task, not from an extrinsic outcome.

In other words, to get your kid to do homework, first help them enjoy doing it .

It is not as crazy as it sounds.

It’s unfortunate that homework is called “work”.

We like to separate work from play.

So naturally, we feel that homework is drudgery.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Homework is a tool for children to learn and get familiar with the knowledge taught in class.

To enjoy homework, the child has to enjoy learning .

A group of girls wearing protective gears watch man demonstrate an experiment in the lab. Curiosity motivate kids to do homework by motivating them to learn. 5 year old homework should not be a chore, but a great way to practice.

How To Motivate a Child To Do Homework

To motivate kids , we first change our mindset, from a working mindset to a learning mindset .

The goal of going to school is not about getting into college, finding a good job, earning a stable income, etc.

Of course, all of those are wonderful, but that’s a working mindset – you’re doing all that work for reasons other than enjoying the learning itself.

Going to school is about learning , acquiring knowledge, exploring new subjects and growing as a person.

In the US, the average expected years of schooling is 16.7 years ​1​ .

If a child doesn’t like school, that will be 16.7 years of misery.

You don’t want that for your child.

But here’s the good news.

If you can intervene early, like in kindergarten or even before kindergarten, your child will be getting off to a good start.

So, convince yourself to change from the working mindset to the learning mindset.

It sounds abstract, but here are 7 tangible steps for moving toward that goal.

1. Stop referring to kid doing homework as your child’s “job”

When you call it a “job”, you are implying that it will be all work and no fun.

Doing that is setting up a child to feel bad even when it’s not.

2. Don’t tell your child, “you cannot play until you finish your homework”

Again, by putting homework in a category separate from play, you are saying that it cannot be enjoyable.

The importance of play cannot be overstated. So make it count ​2​ .

Tell your child that they can do both (of course, only healthy physical play like basketball or biking, but not watching iPad).

They can decide the order of doing them as long as they do both by the end of the day.

You’d be surprised – giving a child autonomy over their homework schedule is one of the biggest motivators.

3. Don’t use “no homework” as rewards

I once heard that some teachers would give students with good behavior “no homework tonight” as a reward.

I was horrified.

Homework is for practicing what we’ve learned in school.

It helps us understand and remember better.

It’s not a punishment or torture that you need a “break” to feel better.

Don’t give your child the impression that homework is something you want to get away from.

4. Do not nag, bribe or force

Do not nag and do not force your kid to do homework, whether through rewards or punishment.

“But then, how to make kids do homework?” parents wonder.

Don’t make your child do homework. Period.

Forcing or bribing will only backfire and reduce your child’s intrinsic motivation ​3​ .

The motivation to do homework needs to come from within the child themselves.

5. Let your child face the natural consequences

“But what to do when my child refuses to do homework?” many frustrated parents ask.

When your child refuses to do school work, let them… after you explain why doing homework is important for learning and what may happen in school if they don’t.

Walk them through the natural consequences for not doing homework – they won’t retain the information well and they will need to accept whatever natural consequences in school. They will have to explain to the teacher why the homework was not done and they may lose some recess time, etc (but first confirm that the school doesn’t use corporal or other types of cruel punishment).

Wait… What?!

You think I should let my child fail?

Well, not doing homework in lower grades is not the end of your child’s academic career.

Think about this, you cannot force or bribe your child through college.

Help them understand the purpose of learning and doing homework now .

You’re helping them make the right decision by letting them understand and face the natural consequences sooner rather than later.

6. Do homework with your child

Don’t tell your kid that homework is important, show them through your action.

Do the homework with them.

You are telling your child you value this so much that you are willing to take the time to do it together. Besides, parental involvement is associated with better school performance ​4​ .

Woman watches girl count her fingers. She motivates the girl to do math homework by making it fun. Kinder homework can be fun, too.

7. Make doing homework fun and positive

There are many ways to make homework for kids fun.

Let’s take a look at two methods I’ve used and the results.

You can try them or invent your own.

Method 1: Use doing homework as a “reward” (younger kids like kindergarteners)

Wait, you said that using rewards wasn’t good a moment ago.

Now you say, “use homework as a reward”?

Well, I said rewards were bad because you would be implying the activity you’re trying to motivate your child to do was not as good as the reward.

But here, I am using homework as a reward.

I am signaling to my child that doing homework is so good that she needs to “earn it”.

How to earn it?

You can try different things.

We used “If you behave, you can do homework with me. If you don’t behave, you can’t do homework.”

We started at preschool and it worked very well.

Parents who have tried this report good results in motivating their children to do homework, too.

But some of them have concerns…

Some parents are uncomfortable with this idea because it feels manipulative.

That’s because these parents do not believe in the idea that homework can be fun.

So they feel like they’re lying to the child.

But I genuinely like homework! (Yes, I’m officially a nerd)

So I have no problem helping my child learn to love homework like me.

If you are not convinced yourself, you may not want to try this method. Or if your child is older and already hates homework, it won’t work.

However, although I don’t agree with using manipulative measures in general, I don’t see this particular one harmful to children even if the parents do not like homework themselves.

Method 2: Turn doing homework into a game and a bonding activity

When my daughter was in preschool, I bought colorful homework books and we did them together.

Sometimes we took turns – she did one problem and I did the next and so on.

Sometimes we raced to see who would finish the page faster.

Sometimes I did them wrong intentionally so that my daughter could point out the wrong answers.

It was actually very empowering and satisfying for her to be able to catch Mom’s mistakes!

We celebrated when we both finished or got the right answers.

It was a lot of fun and my kid enjoyed doing that so much.

By the time she started kindergarten, she already loved homework.

In kindergarten, I couldn’t do her homework because, well, that’s her homework.

So I bought homework books that were similar to the ones she brought from school. Then I did problems alongside her as she did hers.

We still raced, celebrated, and had fun doing it.

The result?

At the beginning of her kindergarten year, my daughter was given two homework books to take home. The teacher would assign homework from the books every week. They were supposed to be used for the entire school year. But my kindergartener liked doing homework so much that she finished them all in one month! No yelling, screaming, threatening, or crying is required.

Also See: How to Motivate Older Kids to Do Homework Using Reverse Psychology

Final Word On Motivating Your Kid To Do Homework

Getting your kid to do homework is only the first step in building a good learning habit. Finishing homework or getting good grades is not the purpose of going to school. Instill the love of learning in your child early on and your child will benefit for life.

* All information on parentingforbrain.com is for educational purposes only. Parenting For Brain does not provide medical advice. If you suspect medical problems or need professional advice, please consult a physician. *

The 6 Stages of Doing Homework with Elementary Kids

A boy in elementary school doing his homework reluctantly

When I was in elementary school, I swear to you, the most work I ever did outside of class was remembering to bring my Valentine’s cards to school on the right day. And I feel like first grade consisted mostly of show and tell and learning to color between the lines. Please tell me I’m not alone here.

Our days were not filled with reading and writing and Common Core algebra before we could even tie our own shoes in the same way they are for our kids now. And there certainly wasn’t any homework — real, legit, pencil-to-paper, due-date-specified homework. Given what policy makers today have determined is necessary to master in the early grades, it’s a wonder we didn’t all grow up to be completely inept, nonfunctioning members of society.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad my kids are learning, and they’re genuinely excited about it too. But the homework. Dear God, the homework. It is quite possibly one of my least favorite nighttime rituals, this doing of homework with my 6-year-old. And if you’re a parent of an elementary-aged child as well, I’m guessing you can relate to these stages of doing homework with your kids.

Stage 1: Acknowledging the Homework

This stage starts out pleasant enough. You ask your kid if he has homework, and he says “no.” Fifteen minutes later, you ask him again. Still no. A full two hours more pass in which you repeatedly question your child about homework, each inquiry met with yet another “no.” You finally tell your kid it’s time to get ready for bed, at which point he announces, “BUT MOMMY, I HAVE TO DO MY HOMEWORK!”

You channel Buddha with every fiber of your being, fighting back strong urges to lose it on him, and calmly tell him to go get said homework before you start eating your own hair.

Stage 2: Finding the Homework

After sending her to retrieve her homework from her backpack, your kid returns empty-handed, claiming she can’t find it. You stomp upstairs after muttering something about how she needs to use her eyes a little better. You unzip her backpack, expecting the homework to be right there on top, only to take one peek inside and discover that HOLYFUCKINGHELL, it looks like an Office Depot diarrhead in there.

You ask your kid how long it’s been since she cleaned the thing out between hauling fistfuls of worksheets, construction paper, and glue-stick-soaked art projects from its depths. When she tells you she just cleaned it out yesterday, you conclude that elementary schools everywhere are single-handedly killing ALL THE TREES.

Stage 3: Starting the Homework

You bring the homework you found under eight pounds of photocopies back downstairs and find your kid engaged in some Very Important Task he couldn’t possibly participate in yesterday when you suggested it. You tell him it’s time to do the homework instead, simultaneously pressing his invisible whine button in the process.

Four nags, three threats, and one thing you won’t ever repeat again later, and you two are seated and ready to do this thing, but not before the baby shrieks/the dog needs to go out/the pot boils over on the stove/the house catches fire.

Stage 4: Doing the Homework

Once the crisis du jour has subsided, you and your kid begin going over the instructions. The farther down the page you look, the sweatier your palms get. She really is only in first grade, right? you think, stumped as to how you, an adult, could be having such trouble understanding what the fuck it is a child is supposed to do here.

Instead of admit to your ignorance, you ask her what she thinks she’s supposed to do, praying to every god you ever learned about in high school sociology that you’ll figure out what “write a number bond followed by a number sentence” means before your inferior show-and-tell-color-between-the-lines education starts to show. A half hour later, as the two of you are still working on number one and talking at each other 10 decibels louder than when you began, you seriously contemplate calling your local legislator and telling her you’ve got a number bond for her, along with a really good suggestion as to where she can shove it.

Stage 5: Finishing the Homework

After just three temper tantrums , one of which was yours, you and your kid finally finish up what should have been a 10 minute task in a cool hour-and-a-half. A sense of accomplishment washes over you and you begin to smile, daydreaming about the glass of wine that awaits you as your kid heads upstairs to change into his pajamas. You’re mere seconds away from fermented ecstasy when, out of nowhere, your kid announces he’s ready for you to kiss him goodnight but, oops, not until after you help him complete one more paper he forgot he has to do.

OHMYGOD I WILL KILL ALL THAT IS SACRED IN THIS WORLD! you scream internally, setting your wine glass down and trudging over to the table once more. You don’t even bother asking him how he was able to find this paper, and right now of all times, when he couldn’t find the other one to save his life. You just want to get this thing over with. NOW. Before you have to add homicide to your criminal jacket.

Stage 6: Recovering from the Homework

Finally, three gray hairs, a Xanax, and 25 minutes of sight words later, the homework’s finished and packed safely back in the book bag. For real this time. You escort your kid to his bedroom, tuck him in, and make a beeline for the wine. Only this time, you skip the glass and head straight for the whole stinkin’ bottle. Homework is hard, dammit, and you deserve it. All 750 glorious milliliters.

This article was originally published on Aug. 1, 2016

7 year old homework tantrums

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Share this on social, why do kids have tantrums and meltdowns.

Understanding them is the first step to reducing them

Writer: Caroline Miller

Clinical Experts: Steven Dickstein, MD , Vasco Lopes, PsyD

What You'll Learn

Tantrums and meltdowns are confusing and exhausting for kids and parents alike. They happen when kids have big emotions that they don’t know how to deal with. Anger and frustration are common triggers. Tantrums and meltdowns aren’t clinical terms, but many parents think of meltdowns as more extreme versions of tantrums.   

When kids have tantrums and meltdowns beyond the preschool years, they may be symptoms of underlying problems.   Extreme anxiety can cause tantrums. Kids with ADHD are prone to outbursts, too, as they have poor impulse control and find it hard to tolerate boredom. Undiagnosed learning disorders can cause kids to explode in frustration. Kids with autism often respond to unexpected changes by melting down .  And sensory overload can trigger meltdowns in kids with sensory processing issues. Whatever the cause, kids who throw a lot of tantrums lack skills to manage their emotions. They often struggle with problem-solving, communicating their needs ,  and calming themselves down .  

Many parents aren’t sure how to help their children when they have a tantrum or a meltdown. It’s common to give kids what they want to stop their tantrums, like giving a child a toy to get them to stop crying. But that response teaches the child that they can get toys by crying, so they’re more likely to have more tantrums. Instead, it’s helpful to look for the triggers that cause your child to act out and steer them towards more mature ways to express their feelings . 

It will come as no surprise to parents that the most common problem that brings young children to the attention of a psychologist or psychiatrist is emotional outbursts—tantrums and meltdowns.

Indeed, tantrums and meltdowns are among the biggest challenges of parenting. They’re hard to understand, hard to prevent, and even harder to respond to effectively when they’re happening. And when they occur with frequency past the age in which they’re developmentally expected—those terrible twos —they can become a big problem for the child, not just the beleaguered adults who endure them.

Tantrums vs. meltdowns

Many people make a distinction between tantrums and meltdowns, though neither is a clinical term. “Tantrum” is commonly used to describe milder outbursts, during which a child still retains some measure of control over their behavior. One benchmark many parents use is that a tantrum is likely to subside if no one is paying attention to it. This is opposed to a meltdown, during which a child loses control so completely that the behavior only stops when they wear themselves out and/or the parent is able to calm them down.

Whether mild or severe, tantrums are symptoms that a child is struggling with emotions they can’t regulate. Anger , of course, is the No. 1 emotion that causes children to lose their heads and blow up—think of it as the kid version of road rage , says child and adolescent psychiatrist Steven Dickstein, MD . The child feels they deserve or need something that is being deliberately withheld from them—the cookie, the video game, something they covet at the toy store—and is overwhelmed by their frustration and sense of injustice.

But anxiety is another big trigger; it causes kids to freak out, overriding the logic that would enable them to see that their anxiety is out of proportion to the situation.

Underlying causes

When children don’t develop emotional regulation as part of normal development, the causes are varied. “The thing is, there’s no such thing as tantrum disorder or meltdown disorder,” notes Dr. Dickstein. “Tantrums and meltdowns are like fevers—they can be triggered by so many different problems that we can’t make them stop until we understand what’s triggering them.

Sometimes the inability to regulate emotions is the result of an underlying problem. Some of the common causes of frequent meltdowns are:

Skills that may be lacking

Whatever the trigger, most mental health professionals believe that children who have frequent emotional outbursts are lacking certain skills that would help them better handle situations that cause them frustration, anxiety, or anger. They include:

A vicious cycle

A good deal of tantrum behavior that parents see as intentional or manipulative is much less voluntary than they realize, Dr. Dickstein notes. But that is not to say that it isn’t learned behavior.

Kids with serious temper problems aren’t consciously calculating throwing tantrums, but they may have learned, through reinforcement from adults, that tantrums get results . “There’s no question that kids who haven’t outgrown tantrums do have lagging skills in emotional regulation,” says Dr. Lopes, “but then I think that weakness is maintained and exacerbated by conditioned learning.”

If a child encounters a problem, doesn’t know how else to handle it, and resorts to tantrums, he may well learn that, over time, this helps him get his way. “It becomes a vicious cycle,” says Dr. Lopes, “because instead of honing and practicing the adaptive skills that kids normally learn to solve problems collaboratively, these kids are learning mal adaptive responses when they get frustrated. And by continuing to practice those skills, they are strengthening these behaviors over time and using them in a greater number of situations.”

Parents are primary

Whatever the cause, clinicians stress that in managing outbursts, the first step is understanding the triggers and testing ways the environment can be changed to reduce the incidence of outbursts. And when it comes to looking for ways to adjust a child’s environment, parents are primary.

“We don’t blame parents for tantrums,” Dr. Dickstein says, “because parents are only part of what goes into a child’s behavior patterns, along with temperament and development. But parent behavior is adjustable, so it’s the most powerful tool we have for helping young children.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Toddlers often have tantrums because they lack the skills to handle big emotions, like anger and frustration. Underlying problems, such as anxiety, ADHD, and learning disorders can also cause kids to have outbursts. If your child keeps having a lot of tantrums after their preschool years, they may benefit from seeing a professional to better understand the causes of their behavior.

7 year old homework tantrums

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