Having difficulty getting your child to do his/her homework? Tired of nagging/begging/pleading/threatening? Star chart not working?
Here are some keys to unlocking your child’s best performance:
Key #1: Motivation is critical to changing behaviour. We keep doing the things we do because they benefit us in some way.
Key #2: Motivation is person-specific. Find what motivates your child rather than just assuming that a particular reward will work.
Key #3: Don’t get hung up on “but he’s supposed to be doing it” or “she should just do it, I shouldn’t have to bribe her”. Fact is, it’s not happening. So let’s take action!
Key #4: Set realistic goals: If your child currently has difficulty completing 10 minutes of homework per day without complaint, then it’s not realistic to expect him/her to jump to 2 hours per day without complaint. Set him/her a goal that’s within reach, for example 15 minutes of homework without any complaints. After a week of success, set the goal at 20 minutes of homework per day, and so on. Also recognize when to stop – there are other things just as important for your child to be doing as homework.
Key #5: Have clear expectations. Make sure that your child knows exactly what he/she has to do in order to earn the reward. 20 minutes of spelling practice? 40 minutes of Math and English? All the homework in the diary? All the homework and no complaints? In some cases, it might be appropriate and helpful to have your child help you decide on the expectations. This can develop maturity and give them a sense of ownership and responsibility.
Key #6: Make the reward contingent Part 1: make sure that the only way for your child to earn the specified reward is by doing his/her homework. If I could choose to go to gym for an hour or put a load of washing into the machine once and both actions would result in the same weight loss I can guarantee you I wouldn’t need my gym membership!
Key #7: Make the reward contingent Part 2: make sure that you deliver the promised reward every time your child reaches the goal. If we don’t get the rewards we are promised we lose motivation to continue trying.
Key #8: Stick to your guns. If your child doesn’t meet the expectation, he/she doesn’t get the reward. No negotiation! Getting your child to take you seriously is half the battle won.
Key #9: Heavily praise your child when he/she meets the expectation and you give the reward. Eventually you want your praise to be motivating on its own so make the association now.