Each child is an individual, as is each parent. So you will need to try different things that work.  If you have more than one child at school, you may notice need to support each one with different methods.  But never give up trying to support your child.  If you have a child who is really not interested, I do encourage you to express that you are not happy with their lack of effort.  Let them know that whilst they are a child, they need to follow your guidance.  Make your expectations clear.  Also make clear what the consequences will be.  At the same time let them know what the reward for effort will be.  Then he /she can choose what to do.  This way they can have some responsibility.  Unfortunately, for some children, they need to be pushed to do the work.  That’s just how it is.  Following are some pointers that I hope will be helpful for you.


Some kids are afraid to try.  They are afraid to fail.  So they lose motivation.  So have a think about what kind of supports you have for your child.  It is important that children experience success at school.  This often leads to wanting to do more.  Some supports may include friends, family members and teachers.


This is also a good tip for adults.  But for kids some tasks seem “huge” so they become overwhelmed and don’t want to do it.  With your child, you may explore what’s needed and then break it down into smaller tasks.  This will take away the overwhelm.  Each step finished should be recognised as an achievement.  This is great for kids to enjoy the process instead of just focusing on the final product.  


Its a great idea for our kids to learn to reward themselves when they earn it.  This becomes a great quality to carry over into the older years and adulthood too.  They can be in control of what tasks they need to finish, and then they can earn their rewards such as a favourite tv show, ….. I won’t offer any examples here as I believe you will be able to share ideas that suit your family boundaries with your child.


A wonderful sentence to say to your child.  Remember each child is different so don’t compare them to others.  Each of us at any age and stage just need to do our personal bests.  


Discussing challenges and how to overcome them may be enough for your child to want to give it a try.  


Lets put aside the negatives of “screen time”, technology such as iPads (and the like) have proven to give benefit to reading, research and problem solving.  If your child is really not motivated to do work, and shows motivation to do some if its on the iPad, or to read something on a device such as a kindle, then this may be a step in the positive direction when it comes to motivation.  Family discretion suggested.


When kids don’t even start something because they fear its difficult, or because they don’t know how to do it all… just get them to do one little bit.  This makes a huge difference.  It means they got started.  Even as adults, procrastination takes a toll on our mental energy.  Teach kids to get started, and notice the difference instead of putting it off.


Some children benefit from having music, or weaving in some art whilst doing their school work.  Yes that’s right, some prefer artistic and creative things over technological devices.  


An allocated area with minimal distractions works best.  I even suggest getting the more difficult work over and done with first as this is when most eagerness exists and they are more alert.  


I was taught a valuable less once, and it was failure is feedback.  Its important how you treat failure.  Children (and adults) may fear failure, and this is the reason they don’t want to even try something.  Think about the role model that you are.  How do you respond to failure (your own and your child’s)?  What reactions do you give?  Ask your child what they learned from the experience.  Did they fail because they did not prepare, or understand the requirements?  What could they have done better?  Once you discuss what their new learnings are, and if they have any gaps in learning for that particular task, ask them if they were to do it again, would they still fail?  We learn from failure, and its ok to fail sometimes especially when we can reflect back and notice we could have asked for help, or put more effort into it.


Strength recognition is important.  Many kids when asked, struggle to label their strengths.  But when you encourage some exploration and help them recognise their strengths, they have the opportunity to expand their list.  When children know their strengths, they feel motivated and empowered.  In addition, knowing they have strengths leads to problem solving skills (another plus to work on strengths).  Strengths built on self esteem.  Strengths help children believe in themselves.  Strengths are not just academic, please remember this.  Strengths from all areas should be celebrated.  Children need to know that success is not just determined from academics.  Look at the whole picture. And a future note… your child is not defined by the number they get at the end of year 12.    You are certainly not defined by that.  Happy individuals…. Remember mental illness is on the rise.  


Exhaustion and over-commitment are perfect reasons why children do not feel like doing homework.  Be realistic.  Kids need down time and quiet time.  If they learn to go without this down time now, they might find it hard to unwind when they get older.  Down time helps with recovery and repair.  Adults too don’t know how to do nothing sometimes.  This is not healthy.  Having the need to always do something.  Why are children being dragged in to this at such a young age.  By all means explore strengths and passions.  But if your child wants to do more activities and you know its not practical, then you just have to say no.  kids need to hear “no” sometimes.  They will certainly hear “no” when they are adults!  And on a final note, do all these activities create a mad rush? And tension, and do you adults talk about what a burden it is?  What messages are you planting in their brain by they way you speak.  Remember balance…


Small group or partner tasks are encouraged for a reason.  This can be motivating enough for kids, just doing tasks with friends.  This doesn’t work for all kids.  Its up to your child to explore the dynamics that work for him or her.  For older kids, working in groups sometimes becomes a social occasion.  They should incorporate some rules, guidelines and short breaks.

I hope these short tips gave you ideas, or gave you confidence that you are on the right track.  Remember we need happy and healthy kids.  Each of us are unique and learn at different rates with different styles. 

Don’t expect your child to be just like you were.  

Times are different now.  We have different expectations of our kids.  A generation ago, most kids did their work on their own, and got a tutor for extra assistance.  These days, lots of parents are doing the work for their kids, and this really takes away learning.  If you do the hard tasks for your child, they will never have the opportunity to wire their brains to such problem solving opportunities.  And what does this mean for the future?  How will they solve problems?  Will they just walk away and say its too hard?  Will you be there to solve their problems then?

Children are given many opportunities to be their personal best.  By all means support them, but let them do most of it themselves.  

These days most kids have tutors, why?  Don’t get me wrong, thank god we have tutors, but I think they are being used wrongly these days.  Some tutors are there to do kids homework.  So this teaches kids that they can’t do their homework on their own.  Some tutors are there to revise work with kids.  Why?  Shouldn’t kids do their own revision if they are capable?  Kids need to learn to work alone.  And then there are the kids who genuinely benefit from having a tutor.  And when the reasons are genuine, then I agree a tutor is needed.  

Raising kids is no easy task.  It requires dedication, commitment, sacrifice, time, money, and hundreds of other things.  As parents we can only do the best we can at any given time with the resources that we have at hand.  

Good luck as you do the best you can.  Remember we need happy kids.  Look at your child /children and notice if they smile and laugh.  Sometimes we get so busy focusing in one direction that we forget to notice the big picture until its too late.  Life is for living, and so don’t forget to live and enjoy life.  

We buy things to suggest relaxation, and to live, love, and laugh, and we display them in our homes because it looks nice.  But I hope you are not doing the opposite, and rushing, screaming, hating and fighting.   Reassess and refocus if you need to.  

Good luck I hope you got something out of this read.

Amanda Dounis

(Psychotherapist and Early Childhood Teacher)

Positive Thinking Clinic

1/7 Magdalene Terrace,

Wolli Creek, 2205