Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What They Don't Tell You about Homework

Have you ever noticed that when you read a "how to" article or book, they make it sound so easy. Even if they admit that it's harder than it sounds, you still walk away thinking "I can do that!"

Getting children with ADHD to do homework is no different. There are countless -- and I mean countless -- articles on how to help them, how to organize them, how to set up a space for them, when they should do it, when they shouldn't do it, what kind of snack they should eat prior to doing it...you get the drift. These articles are all (OK, maybe not all) extremely helpful, except they all assume one thing: that your child is actually willing to sit down and do the work.

But that's the key part. It doesn't matter how nicely you line up the pencils and how healthy a snack you prepare, if your child refuses to do his part (I'm using the masculine here because you know damn well that I'm talking about Bear), there's nothing you can do about it. Well, maybe there is with most kids, but not with an ODD kid. No siree Bob. Or Bear.

Yesterday was a really bad day with Bear, and it all centered around homework. For three hours Bear and I battled, with him alternating between scribbling all over his homework, apologizing, yelling at me, promising to be good, standing on the dining room table, telling me he's ready to work, throwing things at me, crying in remorse, and hitting his baby brother (just once, and not even hard enough to cause Stitch to blink, but nonetheless). In the end I think we managed to get about 20 minutes done, but we were both exhausted.

When it comes right down to it, there's really not a damn thing I can do if Bear refuses to do his homework. Like most kids with ODD, he can't be externally motivated (stickers, charts, etc.) or punished. If he doesn't want to do something, he honestly couldn't care less what we're promising or threatening (the school has noticed this as well). There are all kinds of great programs to help kids with ODD become less...well...ODD...but they can take months and even years to show results. So what are we supposed to do in the meantime? I have no idea.

And on an amusing note, when I tried to explain to Bear today why it was so important to me that he do his homework, he looked me straight in the eye and asked "Do I look like I care?" Where the heck did he pick that one up???? And for the record, no, he didn't.

18 comments:

  1. oh ya. we know all about that. sigh.

    I feel your pain.

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  2. As one of those "tip writers" (LOL) I feel your pain as well. When tips fail because of whatever circumstances I advocate landing on the side of love and affection. Your child will benefit from that much more than from the long-lasting memory of you forcing him to do homework. (And, anyway, who likes homework, really. I throw tantrums about work all the time! ;-) )

    Margit

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  3. I'm a "tip writer" myself, Margit, so I totally get where the writers are coming from. The problem is that we're not getting through Bear's homework...ever. What should take 10 minutes will take upwards of two hours, and in the end he's learned nothing. What's a Mom to do?

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  4. Tara -- Any tips? He's only in grade 1, so this is a new challenge for us.

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  5. Does he have an IEP? I mean WHY does he have homework anyway?

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  6. Yes, he does have an IEP, but it's behavioural and not academic. And I guess he has homework because all the other kids do. The clinical psychologist who initially diagnosed him told us (and the school) that homework expectations might have to be altered (quality vs quantity), but he's only in grade one so we're still learning where his issues are.

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  7. Yes, for sure his behavioral stuff will impact the academic and vice versa. But I see from a subsequent post that you got it handled. Way to go!!!!

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  8. mine is 13 ears old and suffers from ADD AND Epilepsy... bad combination... he has about 4 to 5 hrs. of homework a night- it's been a total nightmare.

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  9. wow,finally the truth abt homework, so making charts not worth it? i think we're going to have a meeting with my dtr's teacher. she'll be 7 in dec and diagnosed with odd this past summer.

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  10. My son is 14 years old and even with an iep and him being diagnosed since age 7 I feel like I am beating my head against a wall. And homework increases as they age. It has been a rough year and I am frustrated with how my son's iep doesn't function to benefit him or myself.

    I am seeking a state county iep advocate. I hope to get teachers that perhaps assign less homework and do more tests. He has one class now structured like that and he has a 110%.

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  11. I'm dealing with this with my daughter. And just loooove those silly articles that are supposed to tell me how to motivate my ODD child.

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  12. So what has happened to Bear since you posted this blog?

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  13. Right on the money !!! It was like you had my son for a few days. Everything is correct. School IEPs only go so far. I'm looking for any kind of solution for my 10yr old odd and I'm learning the hard way there isn't one :( Positive or Negative he refuses to even try sigh

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  14. Right on the money !!! It was like you had my son for a few days. Everything is correct. School IEPs only go so far. I'm looking for any kind of solution for my 10yr old odd and I'm learning the hard way there isn't one :( Positive or Negative he refuses to even try sigh

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  15. Did you ever get this figured out? Is there anything that you have done to help him with his school work? My issue is that my daughter tells me the homework is done, it's in her locker or turned in and there's nothing that I can do to follow up. Besides the fact that her grades keep slipping. Consequences mean nothing to her. The 504 plan has done absolutely nothing! :(

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  16. I am having the same issue with my 14 year old. He just started a new school 2 weeks ago and he already refuses to do anything l. I sit with him and I'm doing all the work because he won't focus long enough to do it. When I tell him to focus it turns into a battle and he's just down right nasty and I cannot deal with it. I have to walk out. When I ask him if he wants to graduate his answer is yes mom enough but he will never graduate with his poor attitude and poor grades. Help! Someone!

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  17. I am having the same issue with my 14 year old. He just started a new school 2 weeks ago and he already refuses to do anything l. I sit with him and I'm doing all the work because he won't focus long enough to do it. When I tell him to focus it turns into a battle and he's just down right nasty and I cannot deal with it. I have to walk out. When I ask him if he wants to graduate his answer is yes mom enough but he will never graduate with his poor attitude and poor grades. Help! Someone!

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  18. Try an iep to modify and lesson work give small rewards for doing say 2 probs. Popcorn ieces etc. Earn tv time and small brain breaks keep it positive. Tell him how proud of him progress be willing to negotiate but keep the control

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