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Parents of ADHD Children

Homework Fighting!

I am at my wits end with the homework battles in my home.  My 12 year old 6th grader gets A TON of homework.  I don’t agree with the amount but it’s the school district we live in.  And I NEVER let him know for one minute that I agree I think it’s too much or that would just fuel to his fire.

Anyways, each night it’s like it’s the first time he has ever had homework.  Constantly whining and complaining!  He requires my constant attention or he will walk away and do something else.  I feel like a prisoner in my own home…..actually hate coming home from work some nights.  Sad, but true.  Breaks my heart to say that ....I love my kids so much, but I just can’t take it. 

And now my ADHD husband has become a MAJOR thorn in this mix.  All of a sudden it’s like he and my son are “buddies” and I’m the bad guy….keeping after him to study, telling him to plan his week, start on a project instead of waiting until the night before.  I cannot continue like this anymore.  I need advice…..do I let him fail?  He is too smart to be dumb…...he has no inner drive to be ahead of the game.  His dad was very much the same way when he was in school however, he somehow managed to get it together in college and become successful.  I think that’s why he’s so relaxed with my son…he thinks that he messed up in school and now is just fine.  I don’t have that mentality.  He needs to become more responsible on his own…I cannot babysit every night. 

I told him that if he brings home anything lower than a “C” he will be benched from lacrosse…..his dad did not back me up! I feel like I’m not only battling a 6th grader but his childish dad, too.  It has driven a HUGE wedge between our marriage.  Who would have guessed after all of these years that ADHD would drive us apart.  But, honestly, I really can’t take it anymore.  And to have my younger child witness all of this turmoil is just not good for anyone. 

So, I guess I’m asking if anyone else has had this problem and what did you do?  Do I continue to help him? Or let him fail?  Is it fair to let an ADHD kiddo fail when I know he needs the guidance? 

Thanks in advance,
Andi

Replies

Unfortunately some of the very detrimental side effects of ADHD are how it effects every relationship in a person’s life. Statistics show that parents of ADHD divorce at a higher rate than average. Those with ADHD have a higher divorce rate as well. ADHD is a serious condition with serious consequences. I am so sorry to hear what your family is going through. Homework is one of the biggest complaints of parent’s w/ADHD children and anyone can relate to what you’re experiencing.

It is my feeling that we have to realign our expectations of what ‘success’ is and step back from the chaos to take a deep breath. Counseling is a wonderful idea and I’m sure would be a big help.

I’d read that children who w/ADHD who go to college often have parents pushing them through the whole way. At 13 my son still needs more attention and we’ve just accepted it. Every night is a strain and we’re spending the weekend catching up with homework because a long term project was put off until the last moment. But we talked with my son about it. How it’s important to plan, communicate when there are problems, etc. A moment to help him with his study skills. Even though things are still hard he has made progress.

Other children at his age are farther along in that regard, but we’re not. And it’s OK. As long as we keep trying to move ahead and my son feels good about it. Their self-esteem is so important. Our expectations for him are different than they otherwise would be w/ADHD, however small steps forward are what we want. These children have limitations we have to understand. It’s a delicate balance knowing the difference.

Concentrating, details, paying attention, can be so hard for them. Harder than we’ll ever know. Studies have shown that those with ADHD actually use different areas of the brain to do the same tasks. It can make life more challenging since there are those differences. They have different gifts that may not be on our list, but they can be successful in their own ways.

Counseling so that everyone is on the same page and feels positive about it. IEPs and 504s most often state that these children MUST be assigned less homework and extra time given for the same assignments. That’s helped out many families. I know it’s hard because we want so badly for them to be successful and it seems that we’re not doing our duties as parents by ‘changing the rules’ for them, but it’s for everyone’s benefit. Try not to worry and let go a little bit even though it’s hard. If lacrosse helps your son socially and feel positive it would be a shame to take him out of it. It doesn’t mean that anything good could come of it since ADHD children do best with exercise and really need socialization.

My husband understands and identifies with my son’s challenges more than I do as well, but I try to appreciate it even though it’s hard for me. If your husband knows what it will take for your son to succeed based on his own life experiences than that’s a blessing. I feel for you.

Sorry to go on, it’s just that I can so relate to how you feel.  My regrets are often that I’ve pushed too hard and my son feels it. It’s just such a hard job! Try to find something to laugh about and enjoy what you can. It’s going to be OK!

Posted by Havebeenthere on Mar 09, 2014 at 7:34am

I read an article by Dr. Russell Barkley (basically *the* go to ADHD expert) today that touched on this.  He was explaining how ADHD should be named SRDD (self-regulation deficit disorder) or EFDD (executive function deficit disorder).  Where a normal person can organize themselves and self-discipline themselves, someone with EF issues cannot.  They need external help and reminders and motivation to reach their goals.  That doesn’t have to be you (and shouldn’t be you nagging), but might be a chart, or a sign, or an alarm, etc. that motivates them to do what they need to.  He says “Pulling back from assisting them to let the natural consequences occur, as if to teach them a lesson that will correct their behavior, is likewise a recipe for disaster.  Instead, artificial means of creating external sources of motivation must be arranged at the point of performance in the context in which the work or behavior is desired.” 

That means letting him fail is not going to teach him to change his behaviour like it might in a normal child. It also means he *can’t* become responsible on his own, at least not for a good long while. Somehow you need to motivate him to do the homework, and then help him to work through it.  I know… I know… *how*?  For each kid it will be different, and I’m just learning this myself.  Hopefully someone will have some answers for us.  I just know that letting them try to figure it out on their own, especially at this age, just isn’t going to work.  They will be left feeling awful about themselves and rebelling.

I know “chunking” works best for my son (he’s 11).  “Do this many questions, then you get a 10 minute break. Then do this many, etc.”  I also get the best results if my son has a snack right when he comes home (reduces ADHD symptoms from low blood sugar), and then homework gets done right after that (maybe his meds are still working a bit?).  He usually wants to play video games, so he doesn’t get to do that until the homework is done (motivation).

As for your husband not backing you up… I’m not sure what advice I can give except that it’s serious.  Maybe look into counselling?

Posted by Rai0414 on Mar 09, 2014 at 7:59am

How many other parents share your opinion that the district gives out too much homework?  If there are other parents of neurotypical children who think it’s too much then it IS too much for any students with ADHD.

I’m not convinced that if you were to be honest about your own beliefs (too much homework) that this would necessarily “fuel the fire.”  By PRETENDING that you do not think it is excessive you are banding yourself together with the educators who may be giving out too much (which makes your expectations and the district’s expectations something that both your husband and your son are rebelling against).  Perhaps acknowledging that you think it is excessive (because you DO) will “win” over the one who has to do the excessive amount of homework.

Any pre-adolescent/teen will rebel some at things like this (the conformists will only do so internally, quietly, to themselves but conform in the end and do it anyway).  Are we trying to raise a bunch of conformists who will do whatever the educators wish them to do?  Or are we trying to raise people who will think on their own and stand up for what is “right”?

If you have other parents who also think it is excessive then you parents need to stand up to the school district and get them to back off.  Standing up for what is right will get you major bonus points with your student who is stuck doing too much homework.  I’m not saying this without some first-hand experience to go with it either.  The greatest thing that ever happened for the students in our district (& the parents who have to support their efforts at home) was one interested parent starting a closed Facebook group where we could all freely share our gripes and grievances against our local school district.  At that point we were able to see how many other parents shared our same concerns THEN band together as a large group and request that the school board meet with us to hear our complaints.  We met with them this past July, the administrators who ran with our “cause” assembled a committee in September & met weekly for eight weeks, two weeks ago they gave their report/recommendations back to the board, we have NEW policies getting implemented starting next year (and feedback from parents that those new policies were presented to them at Open House for new middle school parents just last week).

When I handed my two boys (who just graduated middle school & are now in high school) the newspaper article that outlined all those changes we had brought about they noted that the middle schoolers were “lucky.”  They at least know that I am doing whatever I can to make their education (or maybe only the ones who come after them) a better thing.  Hopefully that translates into them knowing that I am on their side (and that those who are willing to stand up for others can actually effect change).

Posted by BC on Mar 09, 2014 at 3:16pm

COMMENTS REPOSTED BY MODERATOR TO COMBINE DUPLICATE THREADS

BT
I first want you to know that I understand your situation! 
I, like you cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel!

All the counseling, medications, doctors, etc just seem to keep a parent busy.  Every way you turn there is another idea, goal, plan, or start over, increase, decrease.  You know what I am saying.  Then when a spouse does not agree with you, and is never on the same page for what every reason.  You want to go to an island and hide out…

I will only tell you what I think: “Take any grade the
child and you can muster!  Don’t give up lacrosse
you both need the sport.  I know a lot of people will not agree with my idea of being happy with “any”
passing grade!  But we are in survival mode.  Remember in college: 2.5 and survive?

Good luck, B.T.

Posted by Ericakyler on Mar 09, 2014 at 3:21am

upsideoutlook32
Actually, B.T. is right.  I have a 12 year old 6th grader with all F’s except in Math.  My son does homework 2 hours of study time at school at lunch and after classes, from time he gets home until 10 pm, homework still incomplete. He’s so exhausted, he’s falling asleep everywhere, lost weight and is sick.  Me too.  I have fought with the school all year to comply with a 504 which required communication & preferential seating, which they refused to do & took it out of the plan some 8 months after he started at the school and I really have no hope for his education and skills for future life.  I would be so grateful for C’s.  I don’t have the assistance from any partner, and would love a break.  I don’t think anyone would ever want me considering the daily drama and trauma in surviving another day in our home.  So I ask myself each day, should I not enforce the homework situation, given we’re both ill from it.  Upon collapse, it will be over for us both.  So I don’t know who will help educate or care for my son as this experience has destroyed his self-esteem, hope and health.  Don’t take away lacrosse.  Don’t make it part of the equation.  Consider it like homework, as it is important in life.  ADHD partners can complicate but also provide hope and insight.

Posted by upsideoutlook32 on Mar 09, 2014 at 5:50am

 

Clever1
I imagine that most of us with ADHD kids have the same problem. My son is in h.s. and I have been battling him and his hw since elementary school, with very little success. It is totally exhausting. If you get him an IEP instead of a 504, you will have better luck with the school in terms of them providing accomodations that you want for him. But you will need to have him evaluated by a neuropsych. Not chrap, but worth it. On an IEP you can ask to have preferential seating, modification of his hw, extended test taking time, etc. The IEP is a legal doc, I think, so school has to follow it. You shld. find an atty. who deals in these issues. An IEP will really help, at least in school.

Posted by Clever1 on Mar 09, 2014 at 5:07pm

 

knrdodd
I too, have a ds in 6th grade. I agree with the others that taking away lacrosse is not the consequence you want to use as he does need the sports and the outlet to get rid of excessive energy.

Our school district assigns a lot of school work but also gives the opportunity to get in done in class.

My husband and I are on the same page and our rule is if you get a “C” weekly, then loss of privileges.  I do believe that there should be consequences for behavior.  If we allow certain behaviors then how is our child to learn.

My son also waits until the last minute to do assignments so I think that is a common trait.  I am not sure of your situation but could he be doing homework so late that he is just tired and this is causing the meltdowns?

My son gets 30 min downtime and then he starts his work.  Based upon his personality, we do not keep his schedule full to avoid the meltdowns.

I suggest that you talk with your husband and son and try to come up with a family plan that all of you agree upon.  Write it down and have it posted; this hopefully will avoid some of the stress that you feel.

Good luck.

Posted by knrdodd on Mar 09, 2014 at 5:33pm

 

Lande
I would also suggest to have consequences for your
son’s behavior.  However, we’ve found that our ADHD
8th grader works better, and our relationship is better
if the consequences are for positive behavior.

There is no computer time, TV or whatever he does while it is his allotted homework time.  When he has
completed his homework, he earns his privileges.  Also if he completes his assignments he earns points for privileges like a weekend movie.

Either I or my husband sit near him while he’s doing homework and I do my paperwork, and my husband
usually reads.  It models for him staying focused.

Your son may be avoiding homework because he may be having some difficulties and rather than face them, it may save face to just not do his work.  For us it was organizing and working on long term written projects.
We got him a tutor for these, which saved my relationship with my son from deteriorating.  So now I
try to keep our relationship as much as possible to noticing and giving positive feedback for any movement in the right direction.

Also you mentioned that your son likes math.  Our son also does along with science.  We focus on his strengths and he’s part of a math and programming group at school.  These kids need to shine at whatever they are good at, and for your son it’s lacrosse.  They get so much negative feedback on a daily basis, that any celebration of their strengths is important.

My husband and I keep our differences about homework private, and he has agreed to work on being a better role model for his son.  It’s going to be a tougher more competitive world for our kids, and because my husband is a success does not guarantee that for our son.

Posted by Lande on Mar 09, 2014 at 6:46pm

Posted by adhdmomma on Mar 10, 2014 at 5:44pm

I have a couple things to add:

1. You need to ask for modified assignments to be an accommodation in his IEP/504. It is obvious that the work load is more than he can handle, due to his disability. This could be something like working every other problem on math worksheets, or a 3-page essay instead of the assigned 5 pages. Homework should be no more than 10 minutes for each year of grade, per day. For 6th grade, that’s a maximum of 60 minutes a day!

2. Have him evaluated (you can ask the school to do it using this sample letter: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/792.html). Learning disabilities commonly occur with ADHD. It could very well be another issue that is making it worse. Consider learning disabilities as well.

3. You have to measure a child with disabilities with a different yard stick. Should a child his age be able to do homework alone? Yes. Should a child his age with ADHD be able to do homework alone? No. The ADHD changes it. The same goes for grades too: when you add ADHD into the mix, you have to be able to accept whatever grade comes. My son has had Ds at times because he has a writing learning disability. At those times, a D was the best he could do. Should you accept less than As and Bs if your child is clearly defiant and not doing any of the work? Probably not. But if your child has a neurological disorder, Cs or Ds may be the best they can do, even with intervention. Consider what your child’s best is, not what his peers’ best is, and use your own child’s capabilities in light of his ADHD to measure achievement.

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Mar 10, 2014 at 5:58pm

I hear ya. Even though my ADHD husband says he is all for our kids doing well he is a major cause of distraction when it’s homework time.

My ADHD child is younger but I would suggest a timer that you keep, 15 min of homework, 5 min break. Part if the pushback I believe is the wall they sudden run into on their brain. When my daughter was younger, and even with my non ADHD son we would literally run around the house for two minutes. It got out some of the frustration because running in the house, normally not done, led to lots of silliness and laughter.

Now my daughter is 9 and she will do work on her own. Her break now is spending a few minutes to talk to me or watch a video. Whatever you can do to pass the work on to your son, so that you aren’t hovering or “helping” him with it, the better off you will both be. You need to get out of his school work as much as possible and be the reward, not the warden. If he is smart he knows he has to get it done. The worst thing I’ve found I can do is remind my ADHD family members of things they need to do that they know already! My son just simply says “I know” but to my husband and daughter I am sudden the evil b from hell because I told them something they already know!!!! How awful for them, I know. So I’ve tried to remember to ask what she has to do even if I Sam fully aware of what needs done. Whatever strategy I can do to prevent being yelled at…

And can’t you get your husband out of the house some way? Chores, driving range, bookstore, something?  The fewer cooks, especially one less with ADHD and much more will get done.

And maybe your son needs a booster for his meds to get through homework?  On days my daughter misses her booster homework is an extended nightmare. On days she takes booster it is much better. She works on her own, gets it done.

You can’t keep doing the same thing. You have to shake up your tactics till you find one that works.

Posted by YellaRyan on Mar 10, 2014 at 10:04pm

I’m currently going through the homework battle too.  It is without a doubt one of the most mentally draining things to endure.  My 10 year old daughter who has ADHD fights me with doing homework.  Just as you, it sometimes seems it’s the first day of school, and she has no clue as what to do.  She screams, stomps her feet, and cries.  She says she has too much homework and yet doesn’t even start it.  Then she’s going to school the next day with either nothing done or a little done.  Then the next day she has even more because she’s playing catch up.  I don’t know what to do either.  About your marriage; Seek Christian Counseling!  Save your marriage!!  It’s very important for you, your husband your son!

Posted by ur2laugh on Mar 12, 2014 at 1:35am

As a mother of an 18 year old daughter with ADHD and LD in memory and sequencing, reading your post Andi917 brought back a flood of bad memories.  Rather than going into my story, this is my advice as a parent and teacher.  This is in order of importance.
1.  You didn’t mention if he has an I.E.P.  He should so that the homework load is lessened.  This will allow him to be successful at doing quality work rather than quantity.
2. Set up a schedule for homework time so he is in control and can balance his lacrosse and free time too. This schedule has to be on a paper desk top monthly calendar, color coded for each activity and written in hourly fashion (e.g., 4:00-5:00 math questions, 5:00- 5:30 dinner, 5:30-7:00 lacrosse, 7:30- 8:00 reading, 8:00-8:15 video games). 
3.  You say you don’t want to babysit him.  You have to be by his side through his homework time.  He needs that so his attention doesn’t wane.  The more involved and interested you are in his school work, the more he feels like he can do it. 
4.  Is he on medication? If so, does it last into the evening? My daughter takes a 4 hour med after school so she can focus through her homework.  It was a lifesaver; less fighting to do the homework.
I know this is a bit much, but I hope it helps.  I didn’t mention your husband, because it’s really all about helping your son.  Once you do, your relationship will improve too. 
(FYI: My daughter has an 85% average in grade 12 and she was accepted to all 4 universities that she applied to smile SO WORTH ALL OUR EFFORTS!! DON’T GIVE UP!!!

Posted by Popcorn on Mar 12, 2014 at 4:16am

There was a great ADDitude Webinar today called “How To Motivate Your ADHD Child”.  You can find the recording on their website or via iTunes.  Hope it helps - I know I got some good nuggets!

Posted by deflated on Mar 13, 2014 at 1:32am

My 13 year old son has ADHD and everything written on this blog feels like it is describing my battles! 

My son plays violin in a local youth symphony.  He’s not the best but he plays very well.  He also dances ballet in a local academy and has competed internationally - again, not the best but very well.  I thought I had overloaded him with these extracurriculars and pulled him out (partially as punishment too) only to discover the grades and fighting over homework did not improve at all.  New battles ensued over the amount of TV and computer time he wanted.

On the advice of a friend who is an expert in learning differences I quickly put my son back into his activities.  He stays busy and out of trouble.  He gets exercise both for his body and mind.  He has a safe social outlet.  I’ve learned not to use valuable activities as any part of reward/punishment.  They are what they are and I’m so grateful my son is willingly involved in such things.

The challenge has been finding other methods to reward and punish.  I found that withholding time from friends on the weekends seems to work best.  I also found that me cleaning up and preparing his work space, while very frustrating for me, helps him to stay more focused when he does his schoolwork.

Posted by jowat on Mar 13, 2014 at 9:32am

Andi,

I have had a similar experience with my 9 year old and my husband. My (step)son lives with my husband and I and has done so since he was a toddler. Further complicating matters, my son’s bio mom is even more unsupportive, rejects my son’a diagnosis, clueless about his academics, and imposes no limits. Needless to say, I often feel as if it’s 3 against one (me). 

With my husband, I have found improvement and success using the following strategies:
1.  Actively choosing to change my perspective and focus on positives. For me, this means concentrating on the pros of my husband’s approach. I remind self that my strict approach + my husband’s lax approach = balance for my son. Balance is good, so in the end our conflicting styles also bring so etching helpful for my son.
2. There are multiple roads that lead to the same destination and we both desire to reach the same destination.  Reminding myself of our mutual goal and accepting our different approaches as merely different and not necessarily wrong is liberating and minimizes some of my attention. 
3.  Rephrase the discussion. Sometimes I get lucky and I can get my husband to hear me. And by that I mean putting the emphasis on my thoughts and feelings, not our son. Often this requires brutal honesty with myself and husband. For example, I explain (in bullet format) that my perspective is due in part to my fears (failing my son/not being a good mom), the need to feel like my husband is on my side, or a plea to help b/c he’s needed and I’m exhausted. Then (on a good week) my husband steps up a little to give me peace of mind, not because he thinks it is necessary for our son. I honestly think he shares my fear and my verbalizing it spurs some improved support. 

With my son, I have adjusted sone expectations. I also prioritize HW.

4.  My son does well in math. So we may do that first to get a good vibe and confidence or I may let him skip it all together.

5.  Prioritizing also helps. I prioritize the expectation/goals that we are working on and chunk it for myself. So I take a discrete concern (i.e. Staying on task w/o being at the table). We only work on this. Other areas are tabled until later.

6.  Intentional happy time - I set aside a time (as little as 10 min) to either play it do something we both enjoy. Or I set a time to observe him and compliment everything he does right (I.e. Great job for walking. I’m so proud you aren’t trying to run or rush. This created a positive bond between my son and I and it reduces the tension.

7.  Higher flexibility in what counts as completing HW. So we may practice math facts on a phone App. I let him listen to music while doing HW and it helps. We also came up with compromise work. So he can act out a scene or draw a picture rather than answering written questions. We may watch YouTube videos on HW subject. For me, HW is about or practicing material and promoting understanding. So I don’t care how he gains this understanding or that it’s written in the teacher form. Right now the goal is simply gaining knowledge for my son and not adhering to the school’s HW paper.

Best wishes to you.

Posted by direcshunz on Mar 13, 2014 at 10:45am

I am the mom of a 13 y/o 7th grader. I distinguish between homework and big projects that are to be done at home. My son can handle homework most days but the big projects are the death star to him. We have figured out so far that crafty projects need to be done in one day as he looses both interest and motivation if it is 18 steps over 18 days. Written project - pizza box book reports or rewriting/editing are still a work in progress as there is too much to do in one day.
I too have struggled with consequences - currently it is baseball season and he loves it and is good at it and needs to use up all that energy so I won’t take that away from him. He is at the age where iPOD/cell phones are pretty important so they will be the take aways for refusal.
My kid is ‘younger’ than other kids his age so what. He won’t always need me to sit by him at least he still seeks out my support. It is frustrating yes it is. Does my son have any control over that with which he was born no. Is he a great kid in many many ways yup! Do I worry about him yes because I love him.

Posted by susabcats42 on Mar 19, 2014 at 2:45pm

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