Is it Okay to Nag Kids to Do Their Homework?

Nagging kids to do their work can backfire.
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After sitting in school all day, most kids can find lots of things they would rather do than sit down and do their homework. And now that kids have access to electronic devices, it's no surprise that that they'd rather play video games than solve math problems.

And some kids just don't like to do their school work. It can be frustrating to a parent who tries to constantly remind a child to "Do your spelling."

But, nagging a reluctant child to do his work isn't effective. In the long-term, all that nagging might actually backfire.

The Problem with Nagging

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, found that children do best when parents encourage them to be independent with their homework. The researchers found that children needed autonomy to become fully engaged learners. 

Nagging doesn't encourage independence. Constantly saying, "Don't forget to do your homework," and, "I'm not going to tell you again. Sit down and do your homework," means you're taking on more responsibility than your child is to get his homework done.

If you spend your evening nagging, begging, and trying to motivate your child to do his work, you’re likely putting more energy and investment in his work than he is.

Nagging until your child finally gives in doesn't teach self-discipline. Instead, he may comply to get you to stop nagging, not because he thinks it is important to do his homework.

Nagging also makes your child more dependent on you. He may not worry about managing his time or tracking his assignments if he knows you're going to offer frequent reminders.

Nagging also teaches your child that he doesn’t have to listen to you the first time you tell him something. If he knows you’re going to say “Do your homework,” at least 10 more times, he’s not going to be motivated to do it the first nine times you say it.

Allow for Natural Consequences

Sometimes, natural consequences are the best teachers. So rather than nag your child to get her work done, step aside and see what happens. 

Consider what consequences she might face at school if she doesn't get her homework done. Will she have to stay in for recess? Will the teacher make her stay after school? Will she get a zero? For some children, these consequences can be very effective. 

Of course, ,those strategies won't work for everyone. If your child doesn't care what kinds of grades she gets or she seem unaffected by the consequences the teacher hands out, she isn't likely to learn a life lesson if you allow for natural consequences.

But for other children, simply allowing them to face the consequences of their own behavior can be key to helping them learn. 

Motivate Your Child to do His Work

A report card alone doesn’t motivate every child. Many kids are more concerned with what’s going on today, not what sort of a grade they will receive on a report card in a few months. These kids need more immediate positive consequences to motivate them.

You can motivate your child to get his work done by setting limits with electronics. Establish a household rule that says, "No electronics until homework is done."

Then, leave it up to your kids to decide when to do their work. The earlier they get it done, the more time they'll have to do the things they like. If they choose not to do their work, restrict their privileges until they complete their assignments.

You can also provide extra incentives with a reward system. If your child gets his homework done on time every day, give him a little reward on the weekend.

Or, use a token economy system by providing him with a token each day he gets his work done. Let him exchange the tokens for rewards worth various points. Get him involved in choosing the rewards and he’ll be motivated to earn them.

Problem-Solve Together

When your child struggles to do his work, it can be helpful to problem-solve together. The work may be too difficult or perhaps he forgets to write down his assignments. If you work together to solve the problem you may find fairly easy solutions that will help him to do his work independently.

Ask your child, "What would help you get your work done on time?" You might be surprised to hear his ideas. It could be as simple as allowing him to do his work after dinner, so he can have a break when he comes home from school. Or, he may say he needs more help with a particular subject.

Inviting your child's input can help him become motivated to find a solution. Then, he'll be more likely to do his homework, with fewer reminders from you. 

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