Is it Okay to Nag Kids to Do Their Homework?

Consider these strategies to get your child to do his homework without nagging.
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Most kids don’t like to do homework. And can you blame them? After sitting in school all day, most of them can find lots of other things they would rather do than sit down and tackle algebra when they walk through the door.

If you aren't sure how to get your child to do homework, it can be tempting to nag. But nagging a reluctant child to do his work isn't effective, and in the long-term, it can backfire.

The Problem with Nagging

Constantly saying things like, "Don't forget to do your homework," and, "I'm not going to tell you again. Sit down and do your homework," means you're taking on more responsibility than your child is to get his homework done. If you spend your evening nagging, begging, and trying to motivate your child to do his work, you’re likely putting more energy and investment in his work than he is.

Nagging until your child finally gives in doesn't teach self-discipline. Instead, he may comply only to get you to stop nagging, not because he thinks it is important to do his homework.

If you're not available to nag him, he likely won't do his work. Nagging will only cause him to become more dependent on you.

Nagging also teaches your child that he doesn’t have to listen to you the first time you tell him something. If he knows you’re going to say “Do your homework,” at least 10 more times, he’s not going to be motivated to do it the first nine times you say it.

Allow for Natural Consequences

Consider whether natural consequences could be more effective. If you don’t nag him, what would likely happen?

If he doesn't get his work done there will likely there will be a consequence at school. Perhaps he'll have to stay after school with the teacher to get his work done.

Or maybe he'll get a zero for not getting it done on time. For some children, these consequences can be very effective.

Motivate Your Child to do His Work

A report card alone doesn’t motivate every child. Many kids are more concerned with what’s going on today, not what sort of a grade they will receive on a report card in a few months. These kids need more immediate positive consequences to motivate them.

You can motivate your child to get his work done by setting limits with electronics. Establish a household rule that says there are no electronics until homework is done.

Then, leave it up to him to decide when to do his work. The earlier he gets it done, the more time he’ll have to do the things he likes. If he chooses not to do his work, restrict his privileges until he gets his assignments done.

You can also provide extra incentives with a reward system. If your child gets his homework done on time every day, give him a little reward on the weekend.

Or, use a token economy system by providing him with a token each day he gets his work done. Let him exchange the tokens for rewards worth various points. Get him involved in choosing the rewards and he’ll be motivated to earn them.

Problem-Solve Together

When your child struggles to do his work, it can be helpful to problem-solve together. The work may be too difficult or perhaps he forgets to write down his assignments. If you work together to solve the problem you may find fairly easy solutions that will help him to do his work independently.

Ask your child, "What would help you get your work done on time?" You might be surprised to hear his ideas. It could be as simple as allowing him to do his work after dinner, so he can have a break when he comes home from school. Or, he may say he needs more help with a particular subject.

Inviting your child's input can help him become motivated to find a solution.

Then, he'll be more likely to do his homework, with fewer reminders from you.