Ask the Experts

Q: My Child Gives Up Too Easily on Homework, When He Remembers It…

Is your child giving up too easily on homework? Use these three strategies from ADHD family coach Leslie Josel to help your student persist through challenging assignments.

Q: “How do I support my son in building better work habits? Anytime something is hard or challenging, he gives up. He does not write down his homework or bring it home half the time and his desk at school is a mess. I have tried color-coding his folders so he knows where to put everything, but his progress is always inconsistent. An organization technology will work for two weeks and then he stops using it consistently.” – Mom Needs Help


Hi Mom Needs Help:

Before we get going, I need to ask: Have you spoken to your son’s teachers? Or have they discussed this issue with you? What else are they seeing? Does he understand the assignment or homework he is being given? Does he know how much time he actually has to do the work; could his “giving up” possibly be a poor time sense? Is he possibly overwhelmed by the amount of work he has?

I would first advise you to get a better “read” on what is happening in the classroom so that any systems or supports that are put in place are specific to your son’s needs. Rule out the possibility of learning disabilities. With that being said, here are three strategies I’ve honed over years of working with students facing similar challenges:

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1. Make sure he understands exactly what he is being asked to do.

We are all very good at asking our students what they need to do. But sometimes we forget to ask them if they understand what the assignments really mean. So if your son is given the assignment to “continue studying,” he might be having a difficult time understanding specifically what that means. And that type of assignment is just too vague for him to wrap his brain around and therefore activate on it.

2. Eliminate the overwhelm.

Perhaps the amount of work on the page is overwhelming for your son. If this is the case, teach him to cover up questions he is not working on. If he only sees one or two questions on the page, he might feel less overwhelmed and less likely to give up when he feels challenged.

3. Make it easy to get started… and finished.

I always try to make things as simple as possible to make getting started simple. Remove all barriers to entry by starting on something small and simple to gain confidence and momentum. If you son gets stuck, ask, “What’s your next step?” If he says he doesn’t know, ask him “What do you know?” This can help dial down the proverbial shut down and boost his confidence in himself.

Good Luck!

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ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!

Updated on November 20, 2019

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