One Simple Strategy to Help Make Homework Time Easier

Pencil and Paper

How many of us have been guilty of subscribing to the “red pencil mentality?” You know, when we focus on the homework mistakes rather than on what’s correct? Probably most of us; because it’s human nature. However, focusing on our kids’ mistakes or the wrong answers can be a big source of homework power struggles.

Let’s put ourselves in their shoes. What happens when someone points out our mistakes? It makes us feel judged. The same goes for kids. When we focus on what they got wrong, they feel judged and discouraged, which makes the situation ripe for eye rolls and power struggles.

To turn the tables, let’s retire the red pencil.

Try these tips instead:

1. Begin Homework Time By Focusing on Effort

Rather than pointing out what’s wrong, notice progress and improvements. Encourage persistence. These strategies will go a long way towards diffusing power struggles and will keep the next homework time from becoming a battleground.

2. Comment First on the Correct Answers

Your kids will feel encouraged when you point out what they did well. When you do find a mistake, don’t slide into critical mode. Stay encouraging and ask, “What did you learn from this answer that you got right that might help you solve this one?” That not only keeps them from feeling defensive, but it also encourages them to think about problems creatively and see them as opportunities to learn. This is a great reminder for all of us.

3. Encourage Mistakes!

Mistakes are part of the learning curve, and also part of what drives innovative ways of doing things.

Mistakes are something to be celebrated, not red-lined. 

So, what do you say? Shall we retire the red pencil? I encourage you to adopt a new mindset when it comes to your kids’ homework and test mistakes. Not only will you avoid a power struggle or two, but you’ll also find your kids are more likely to try new things and take risks in their learning. When that happens, you begin to foster a sense of discovery and creativity that will take them so much further in life than any red line ever could.

History is filled with stories of mistakes that turn out to be brilliant inventions and positive turns. Celebrate them, and your kids, for trying their best and persevering! It’s a game-changer!

Final Thoughts

I get it. Homework battles can be frustrating, but after implementing these 3 steps, you’ll be amazed at how encouraged and empowered your children will feel.

Of course, once you solve the homework issues, don’t be surprised if other issues arise–sibling rivalry, backtalk, defiance– that’s how parenting goes.

If you’d like to learn how to get your kids to listen without nagging, reminding, or yelling, I’d love for you to join me for a FREE ONLINE CLASS.

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About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions® and the best-selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on The Doctors, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.