Are You Caught in a Homework Battle in Your House?

Posted September 25, 2009 by

Photo of annita-woz

The great homework battle comes and goes in our house. Sometimes, my daughter sits down and dutifully pulls out the workbooks and sharpens her pencil and gets it done. Sometimes, she wants me sitting at her elbow and will do silly things to keep me engaged in her homework routine. For example, she’ll tell me that she has to read out loud the last chapter of reading, even though this has not been the requirement since first grade. Sometimes, I think homework is a time for her to make me pay attention to her.

This daughter is very social. She loves to play with others and is very motivated by time with friends. She loves time on the phone, time in the yard, time planning the next play date. She loves to play with kids so much that she’ll even play with the mean ones!

She also knows that in our house, homework is first, then sports or play time.

This past week she had some cursive practice to catch up on in her workbook. Now cursive writing is just writing. It doesn’t require creativity, it doesn’t require much thinking…she had to trace some letters, she had to write some words a few times, she had to copy some sentences.

She hates cursive.

And worse, she hates is when her friend calls and she knows that she has to do the work before she gets to play. So the phone call comes in, the neighbor wants to play, the homework must be done first.
Does she buckle down and just get it done so she can play No. She panics.

She throws herself on the floor wailing that she will never get all of the homework done and that she will never get to play and that I am such a mean mom that I make her do this homework every day. Coincidentally, she states that she just remembered now she has to do eleven pages of cursive instead of the regular two, and that her teacher gives them too much work to do and that she hates her school and that she will never ever get it done.

Does it stop there?


She adds the running commentary of “school is so stupid!”

And for good measure, she gets off the floor and throws her pencil across the room and it hits the cupboard at eye level, right next to her Dad’s head.

Silence in the room.

Dad picks up the pencil and sends her to her room. Okay, sending doesn’t quite work, he has to carry her there because by this time she knows she’s crossed the line and she refuses to go to the quiet place for calming down, and she is so past the point of rational thought, that she is now flinging her arms out, and kicking the wall and giving us that really angry face. (You know, the one that we give her when we really want her to calm down.)

I’m so done with the homework battle.

When she is up in her room, calming down (and not stepping one foot out of the doorway or she will lose her soccer practice) she continues to yell, screaming at the top of her lungs, punctuating each word with a kick on the door, while crying out the words that she thinks we want to hear, “Help me calm down. I’ll do my homework now. I just want to come out. I just want to try again so I can have my play date. I’m sorry.” The noise is deafening, the pitiful wail changes to an angry snarling sound when she realizes she is not making progress.

The dog comes to the front door and scratches to get in.

My daughter is wailing up stairs and her voice echoes through the hallway down to the entry. I open the door and say in my happiest welcoming voice, “Well, Hello there! I didn’t know YOU were at the door! Come on in! How nice of you to stop by.”

Instantaneous silence from the upstairs region.

She thinks we have a visitor, maybe even her play date.

She remains silent.

(This one should go into acting, certainly drama is her calling.)

Did I mention that I’m so done with the homework battle?


Annita Wozniak grew up in a large, imperfect family in the Midwest. "As adults we have the power to build children up or tear them down," she says about the challenges of being a responsible parent, "and we never know when what we say is going to be a defining moment in a child's life." Woz is a writer and child-grower living in the Midwest with her husband and their three inspirational children. She is always learning. You can visit her website at

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