Homework “Meltdowns”

Homework is a dreaded time of the day for a lot of households, especially now with alternate school options happening across our country. I hear it all the time from parents that this time is filled with screaming, crying, and meltdowns. I get asked frequently, “why is this happening?” or “what can we do to stop it?”

It’s so important to remember that kids’ behavior is their form of communication. These “meltdowns” aren’t occurring to make everyone’s night miserable, but to communicate a need.

They could be feeling…

  • Anxious about not grasping the material.
  • Rushed by the timed online math problems.
  • Embarrassed for not keeping up with the rest of their class. 
  • Disappointed for not making the grades they were hoping for. 

Children don’t yet have the vocabulary to appropriately express their feelings and why they are feeling the way they are feeling. Because of this, their behavior is oftentimes misunderstood.   

Below are some helpful tips to implement the next time your child has a meltdown during homework:

  • Get down on their level.
  • Speak in a calm tone, not matching theirs. 
  • Validate their experience; “I can see you’re feeling rushed right now because you are running out of time.”
  • Reassure and encourage them; “but you have plenty of time. It’s going to be okay.”
  • Direct them to take 10 deep breaths and a 10-minute break before they begin again. 
  • Get them to write down their homework assignments for the night, so they can mark it off as they go. This can ease anxiety, as the list sometimes feels larger and unmanageable in their heads.
  • Sandwich the harder assignment/subject between the easier assignments. 

By implementing these steps, your child will feel heard, understood, and regulated. This is the recipe for a stress-free homework experience. 

Written by: Amberly Ellis Hamilton