Category Archives for "ADHD"

Sep 19

Having Nightly Homework Battles?

By Jen Taylor | ADHD , Kids 5-12 , Parenting Tips

Is homework ruining your nightly family time? If you are anything like the families that I see, it has become a dreaded and lengthy battle each night.

Children are coming home from school physically tired and the last thing that they want to do is more school. Parents are getting off of a long days work and just want to relax, but feel pressured to ensure that all of the assignments are finished correctly.

How to Balance Homework and Home Life

You might have seen this viral post from a teacher that said that she was not assigning any homework to her class during this school year. Instead, she encouraged nightly reading, having a family dinner and going to bed early.

I would say she got it right. She referenced this research that says that homework in elementary school is not helpful. In fact, it can actually be harmful because it makes kids less interested in school in general.

But Our Teacher Does Assign Homework

So, what can you do if you are one of the unlucky parents whose teacher is still assigning work to be done at home. The initial worry is that your child will fail if they do not complete the homework. You certainly don’t want to undermine the authority of the teacher by saying that these assignments are a waste of time.

Homework Do’s and Don’ts

DO:                  Ask the teacher how long the homework should take (30 minutes)

DON’T:           Tell the teacher that you are not doing it at all.

DO:                  Require your child to spend that amount of time on homework

DON’T:           Stress if the homework is not completed.

DO:                  Inform the teacher that you tried but weren’t able to finish

DON’T:           EVER let them take away recess at school to finish homework

DO:                  Allow children to work on their assignments without you!

DON’T:           Give children the answers just to get it finished

DO:                  Give kids a chance to have a snack/play before they start working

DON’T:           Wait until after dinner to get started

DO:                  Play instrumental music in the background

DON’T:           Have the television on!

DO:                  Encourage the effort (you are really working hard)

DON’T:           Praise the outcome (Good Job, you’re finished)

DO:                  Enjoy family time (and dinner) each night

DON’T:           Spend all night yelling and fighting

DO:                  Consult with the teacher about your struggles

DON’T:           Worry about your child repeating a grade (it’s okay)

DO:                  Consider professional help (tutoring, mental health)

DON’T:          Just assume it will get better without interventions

In the end, your relationship with your child is more important than their nightly work (especially in elementary school). The dread and negativity that come along with homework battles is not good for your mental health or for your child’s mental health. However, we all want our children to be successful and these types of struggle could be an indication of a bigger problem.

Know When To Seek Help

If your child is having that much difficulty with homework, it could be a sign of a mental health disorder like ADHD. Other common problems include learning disabilities (like dyslexia)or sensory processing issues. Or it could be that your child needs glasses.

Before you assume that it is strictly defiance, rule out all other possible causes. Talk to your pediatrician and your child’s teacher and evaluate the need for additional services if the problem persists.

How long are you spending on homework each night?

Feb 04

Stop Public Shaming of Children

By Jen Taylor | ADHD , Kids 5-12 , Professionals

Shaming children, especially in a public forum is something that needs to end.  Two things have happened this week that have prompted me to go on a little bit of a rampage.

A History of Social Media Shaming

There was a viral  “Motherhood Challenge” on social media.  For those of you who don’t know, this one was where a friend tags to you post 3-5 pictures of what makes you proud to be a mother. Shame on you if you were not challenged, you must be a terrible mother. Shame on you if you didn’t post, you must not love your children.

Then, I got an email from a parent reporting that her child had a total meltdown after being publicly shamed in school for negative behaviors. He is yet another victim of the “Clip Behavior Management System.” For those of you who don’t know what this is…essentially, many teachers have some version of this (it might be traffic signs, bumblebees, punch cards, or any other equally demeaning visual). The concept is that a child’s conduct of the day is rated on a chart that goes from E (Excellent) to G (Good) to S (Satisfactory) to N (Not Good) to U (Unsatisfactory). It is meant to help motivate children to comply with classroom rules and teach self-regulation. It also helps teachers communicate with parents about behavior for the day.

The problem with these clip management systems is that they are usually either on a classroom board for everyone to see or on the child’s desk where most everyone can see. The moving of the clip might be done by the teacher or the student but is usually done while all of the other students are watching. Behavior analysts might say this encourages poor behaving children to follow the lead of others well behaving children. I consider it PUBLIC SHAMING. In my private practice, I have found that children frequently have meltdowns when they are told to “MOVE THEIR CLIP” because they also know that getting a negative letter will likely lead to punishment at home (no electronics, typically). In fact, I have frequently recommended that negative behavior at school be addressed at home with similar consequences. I don’t take issue with conduct reports. However, I do take issue with having children on blast in front of their peers on a daily basis.

Overcoming SHAME

Thus, THE CLIP CHALLENGE! The Clip Challenge is a way for ADULTS to experience what it is like to be judged on a daily basis for your behavior and shamed for doing things are in general, developmentally appropriate. Here are the rules,

  1. You start each day on E.
  2. You move your clip down one letter (E –G-S-n-U) for every “off task behavior.”
  3. You publicly report your final conduct grade on your social media page and/or mine at under the Clip Challenge thread.
  4. Off Task Behaviors:
    1. Being Late (for work, from lunch breaks…for any reason)
    2. Excessive Talking (to co-workers or on the phone to friends/family during work hours…excessive means ANY).
    3. Not Doing Your Work (Unreturned phone calls, emails, paperwork not filed)
    4. Not Being Prepared (You forgot anything that you need to do your job today)
    5. Doing Something Not Work Related (Checking social media, shopping online)

Are you Ashamed of Yourself?

Teachers might respond and say that is not how the clip management system is used in their class. Maybe not. But I see 100 children a month in my private practice and I would venture to say that over 75% of them have some sort of system like this and these are the comments I read for clip-moving conduct violations. Granted, sometimes it is for stealing, physical aggression or some other discipline worthy event. But generally it is talking, not being in your seat or not doing your work. Stuff I am totally guilty of EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

Shaming Doesn’t Work

A final thought….these systems don’t seem to work. The kids who are well behaved generally get E’s or G’s every day. The children who are the “discipline problems “ generally get N’s or U’s every day. They are not being motivated by the leaders of the class. They are giving up before they even get started because they don’t feel like they will ever be successful. They are not motivated to get a prize out of some Dollar Store treasure box. They don’t even care about losing their electronics anymore. Why? Because this public shaming sends the message “I AM BAD.” People will say, no…we are focusing on behavior. WRONG…the message I hear from children is “I was bad today. I am bad.” Parents ask kids, “Were you good today? vs Did you have a good day?” This subtle difference reinforces negative self-esteem in kids.

So, as a mental health professional and advocate for children. I encourage you to take the CLIP CHALLENGE. I also encourage you to stop asking your children if they were good or bad today and start focusing on the effort involved in making good choices throughout the day.

What do the schools need to do instead? That’s a question that is more difficult to answer . I will share some of those ideas on another day.



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