Title: Why can't my daughter complete her homework?
00:00:00 Speaker 1
You. Why can't your middle schooler just do her homework? Well, that's the question we're talking
about today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist,
and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations
teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization, child and Teen Counseling,
both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live
to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. My daughter is in 8th grade, and
she just never seems to be able to get her homework or assignments done. If I'm not persistently
nagging her, she just doesn't do anything. Homework takes her forever, and she just doesn't
always finish. My sense is that she finds her classes boring and doesn't pay attention, which
makes the homework all that much harder. I feel like she should be able to organize herself and
work on her own by now. Any suggestions? Yes. Thank
00:01:07 Speaker 1
you for your question. The first thing I want to talk want to figure out is what's going on. Have
you talked to her teachers? Do her teachers have a similar experience, or do they have a much
different experience in class? Is she engaged, but the homework she's not engaging in? Or is
she so non engaged in class she's disruption or she's just staring at the ceiling. These things
can kind of guide you towards, hey, maybe your daughter needs to see an educational therapist
who can assess for any learning challenges or go through a whole psychological and educational
battery of tests from a psychologist, determine if there are any attention issues. Are there
possibly any processing issues, visual processing, audio processing that may interfere
with her ability to learn and stay focused. So I'd want to rule all those things out. If you can
rule those things out, then you may be right. She may just be bored. But to counter that, what
I'd wanted to make sure is, does she have anything valuable
00:02:12 Speaker 1
in her life that really fulfills her? Whether it be soccer or scouts or choir or theater, it doesn't
really matter what it is as long as she finds fulfillment in it and she finds that she gets value
out of it, because we want to give her a sense of mastery and autonomy and purpose in her life.
And maybe if she had, let's say, tennis or whatever the activity is where she felt good about
that, that can sometimes spill over into the boring school stuff. Another thing is, you may
want to make sure you have a real structured routine with homework, where it's always at a certain
time. It's always at a certain place. Maybe not in her room. Maybe her room is too distracting
because it's too isolated. Maybe at the kitchen table, maybe listening to music. I know a lot
of kids focus better when they have music on because the silence is deafening or just the other
sounds of the house of little sister and brother playing in the background or you cooking dinner.
That's too distracting. But she has her
00:03:08 Speaker 1
earbuds in and she's listening to music. Maybe that helps her focus. Now, if you do that, you
have to come to agreement that she has one playlist and she plays and goes. She doesn't have to
go through and pick a song every time. Another concern I have is how much screen use is she having?
Not music that's more audio, but like screen use, social media, video games, videos. I want
to limit that, especially before video game use and maybe use that as a carrot for after her homework
is done. Let's see what else. Make sure getting up exercise. I have a lot of clients who, after
they get home from school, they go jump on the trampoline, they shoot hoops, they go ride a bike,
they dance, they get that physical energy out because sitting in school all day can be really
stifling and it's hard to focus when you're emotionally just you're pent up like that. So finding
a physical outlet, a regular physical outlet, maybe before homework, what else do I want to
say about this? It's a complicated issue
00:04:05 Speaker 1
and everyone's going to handle it differently. So make sure you're getting support from professionals
if needed. Make sure there's some routine and also make sure that she's still feeling accepted
by you. If every interaction between the two of you is you're angry because she's not doing her
homework, she could start interpreting that as that's her vision of herself. And we don't want
that. We want to make sure there's balance and there's some positivity and affection and unconditional
love. Also, you don't have to be a perfectionist with homework. We all want our kids to excel
and do well. But let's manage expectations and let's go step by step. Let's not go from where
she is now to straday in one leap. Let's take little steps here by here. So by the time she's in
high school, maybe her developing mind, which is still developing, let's say she's 13, 8th
grade, she has a developing prefrontal cortex, which means her impulse control is higher.
Her emotional regulation is not as good. Her
00:05:05 Speaker 1
ability to see cause and effect is not firing in all cylinders like it would be for an adult. That
doesn't really pay off until about 25 years old. So throughout high school and even in college,
that executive area of functioning. The brain is not fully formed yet. So we have to have some
patience. She will catch up. The important thing is to guide her towards things that she has
a passion for. And then the math class or the English class or the history class that is boring
now has meaning to her because it helps propel her to the next step of what she wants to do, whether
it's vocational school, college, whatever that may be. Anyways, it's a big topic. Thank you
for your question. If you want to meet Kent Toussaint at Teen Therapy Center, answer your parenting
question here on Tips on Teens every Wednesday, noon. Email us at tips on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or you can direct messages right here on Facebook. We love your questions. Thank you so much.
Happy Yum Kippur, everyone, and I
00:06:02 Speaker 1
will see you next week. Bye.
Why can’t my kid finish their homework?
Is your kid struggling to complete their homework more so than you think is reasonable? If so, the first step is to rule out any issues that you think might interfere with their ability to stay focused. You can do this by talking to her teachers. Is she engaged or having similar struggles during class? You may want to see an educational therapist who can assess any learning challenges that might be present.
Once you’ve ruled out that, you may want to consider some of the following factors that can affect a child’s ability to focus on homework:
Does your child have anything in her life that fulfills her? Having mastery over something, say a sport or a musical instrument, sometimes gives kids a good feeling of purpose and autonomy. This can spill over into other areas like school work. Other questions to ask: is your kid getting enough exercise? How about screetime and social media usage?
Turning In The Assignment
Above all as you’re working on this issue, you will want your child to feel that you accept them. Otherwise, you risk them internalizing potential negative ideas about themselves. There’s a lot to say about kids and homework, and we turn in the assignment in this Tips on Teens:
“My daughter is in eighth grade and she just never seems to be able to get her homework or assignments done. If I’m not persistently nagging her she just doesn’t ever do anything. Homework takes her forever and she doesn’t always finish. My sense is that she finds her classes boring and doesn’t pay attention, which makes the homework all that much harder. I feel like she should be able to organize herself and work on her own by now. Any suggestions?”
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.