Q: Is there any way to get through to a 7-year-old in second grade that the amount of time she spends melting down and yelling about a simple school assignment that she could've mostly finished during class time and chose not to is longer than the amount of time it would take to do the assignment? We have never been super strict about homework, mostly because we thought it was inappropriate before, but now it's actually classwork and not homework, and her teachers are overall understanding. But occasionally, she needs to be able to accomplish some schoolwork without falling apart, right?

A: What a great question. Has there ever been a way to convince 7-year-olds that they have wasted their time screaming? In my time of working with families for about 20 years, as well as parenting three children, the answer is no, not really. The essence of what you want, which is what every parent wants, is for your child to understand your point of view, and hence, obey you without fits or questions. A wonderful dream, really. And I’m with you: It’s maddening to watch your child “waste” their time melting down when you know it is well within their power to just do the work. But we aren’t really talking about homework here. Allow me to explain.

I don’t know whether this is a learning-at-home pandemic issue or whether your child is in school and this is spillover, but I can assure you either way: Your child is not making a conscious choice to melt down or be a quitter. I don’t know why, but your child is overwhelmed and needs support. It could be that she has an undiagnosed learning issue. It could be hunger. It could be a reaction to your pushing and pushing to complete the assignment. It could be that she’s bored and doesn’t want to revisit the material. I have no idea why your daughter is upset, but you need to reshape your goals.

To move forward, you have to admit that just because you now care about the schoolwork doesn’t mean your daughter does. To go from zero attention to now expecting enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be working, so stop expecting that from her.

We see that she’s resisting this, so get down to the why.

First, call the teacher and clarify what’s happening in school, as well as what the teacher expects. Ask if the teacher sees any executive functioning issues. Explain the behaviors you’re seeing at home, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Next, be sure that the timing of the classwork makes sense for your daughter. Has she had downtime? Is she fed? Has she moved her body?

Finally, call a mini-meeting with her, and set up a plan. Your ultimate goal isn’t?to raise a child who completes classwork; your ultimate goal is to raise a?child who enjoys learning and is motivated to do it. Let’s go slow and?steady on this classwork issue; she’s only 7.

Step back and reassess. You’ll get there. Good luck.

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