“Time to start homework.”
“Ugh,” he huffs. “Do I have to?”
“Come on. Stop procrastinating.” You give him a stern look, hoping a little parental intimidation will get the point across. “It won’t do itself.”
He rolls his eyes.
You point to the table. “Now.”
“Just ten more minutes, please,” he bargains, unwilling to part with his bag of chips and peel himself off the couch.
It’s no secret. Children will try anything to keep from starting their homework.
Honestly? Can you blame them?
Starting is the hardest part of any assignment… even for adults.
Why is that?
It’s because your brain has a hard time transitioning into anything that doesn’t promise immediate gratification.
But, oh, how it relishes finishing!
Flooded with dopamine, it lights up with joy and satisfaction, reveling in its success.
How can you help your child reach the finish their brain so desires without running out of juice before they even get started?
7 Productive Solutions for Getting Homework Finished
Consider some constructive ideas on how to overcome procrastination and take advantage of your child’s innate desire to get things done.
1. Make a Preemptive Strike
The simple task of getting the books and papers out of the backpack is the first obstacle to finishing homework. Setting your child up before they ever have time to slip into procrastination mode is the way to counteract this.
Have them set up their workstation right after coming home, pull the paper and books out, and open them up. Decide right then and there what must be tackled first. Then walk away. With that simple preemptive move, you’ve already got them started and you’ve turned homework into something to finish, not something to start.
Now, they can go get a snack and wind down for 15-20 minutes with a little fun. Afterward, when they return to their workstation, the transition is already in progress. No starting required.
2. Muzzle the Perfectionistic Critic
While doing their homework is certainly important, help your child understand that perfectionism and worrying about what grade they may get will not help them do the work. It will only paralyze them with anxiety over it. The best way to success is staying present and focusing on what needs to be done now. The critic needs to be restrained and take a backseat.
3. Create a Technology Blackout
No, that doesn’t mean you have to shut off all the electricity to the house or sabotage the cell phone tower. It just means that all unneeded technology should be turned off so it can’t be a distractor on the way to the finish line. After your child can see how much more they can get done with technology out of reach, the sweet reward of turning it back on after homework is done will be even better.
4. Schedule “Freak Out” Time
Sometimes, your child just has to let out their frustration and complaints. Having all that in their head only slows down the completion of the tasks. So, have your child schedule a calculated “freak out” time where they can just let it all out. The payoff is totally worth it, for they will be able to see for themselves how quickly they can get homework done afterward.
5. Chop It Down to Size
When there are a lot of homework tasks or one huge assignment, it can feel overwhelming. Help your child break it down into digestible pieces. Completing small goals fast will build momentum to finish the whole project quicker. Putting an estimated time on each step can also help your child see that this is doable. The looming mountain is turned into small rocks.
You may also want to have your child start on an assignment that’s not too hard, as sort of a snack that gets them warmed up. Moving to a larger task after completion won’t be such a huge deal anymore. And if you have them do the easiest task—or the one they really want to do—at the end, it will leave them not only with the satisfaction of finishing but also with a lingering memory that the last thing they did was absolute fun.
6. Have Planned but Short Intermissions
Instead of just letting your child break whenever they want to and however long they wish, make sure you schedule well thought-out intermissions. Plan on giving them a respite after 45-60 minutes of working. But make sure it won’t be too long—5-10 minutes tops. Moreover, before your child steps away from their homework, have them take a look at what they will do next. That way, you prevent them from having to transition all over again when coming back to it.
7. Pause Just Short of the Finish Line
Yes. While it may seem illogical, remember that startups can cause procrastination. It’s exactly what you want to avoid! But by stopping right before the task is complete, you’ll encourage that desire to finish. Your child knows exactly where they’ll pick up again and transition right into the next task, ready and warmed up. That strategy works for small intermissions for daily homework tasks as well as for longer projects that may take weeks.
As you can see, with a little out-of-the-box thinking and good strategies, you can help your child learn how to get their homework done without a lot of grumbling and huffing and puffing. So say “goodbye” to homework procrastination for good!