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?

Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

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