4 hours later....



I picked up difficult child's assignments from school last week as she had been absent. After 4 hours, she managed to complete 2 social studies worksheets which involved reading the first page and answering 10 questions and cutting out the pyramid and coloring it. That's it. She spent 30 minutes yelling at me over one of the questions: How do scientists believe the early Indians arrived in the Western Hemisphere? I explained the question to her because she was reading it wrong, but of course I'm only mom and don't know anything. Then she just sits there, won't respond to me at all and stares blankly at the page. ARGH!!!! Of course, I wasn't engaged with her for that entire 30 minutes, but that didn't stop her. As soon as I saw where it was heading, I told her that I wasn't helping her as long as she was yelling at me which led to her throwing her pencil and papers and just going on full force about how I don't care about her and I don't care if she fails. Sigh...

She still has 3 other subjects to work on. Except I'm not worried about the math as it was all review for the achievement test this week and math homework has been the source of some huge meltdowns in this house. I couldn't care less about how she scores on the achievement test. Don't even get me started on that subject. She didn't work on any of her schoolwork yesterday as she was in a PMS-hormonal rage (I'm not exaggerating a bit) and I wasn't pushing it. They aren't due Monday, she has more time than that, but as school is such a huge source of anxiety for her I wanted to help her at least be caught up so she wouldn't return behind.

As soon as she finished the social studies, she said she felt sick. Now, I do know that her anxiety causes physical symptoms such as that. However, I also feel like she uses that anytime she doesn't want to do something. To say that my daughter is a bit of a hypochondriac is putting it mildly. I've lost count of how many thermometers we've gone through because she keeps wearing them out.

I know in the grand scheme of things this is relatively minor. But nothing, absolutely nothing, with this kid is easy. Everything without exception is a battle and some days I'm just tired. Yet, I always seem surprised by her reaction to things. I guess I'm just always optimistic.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Oh Heather,

I remember homework battles even with easy child. With difficult child they became violent so we don't force hwk. I do so know what you mean about everything being a battle and nothing is easy. Hugs to you.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

I hate the homework battles. Given the tweedles school placements, neither of them receives homework. Before day treatment, kt & wm's IEPs took homework out of the picture. While I asked for homework to be assigned (responsibility homework), I asked the school to handle the consequences as we didn't want an all night every night battle in our home.

I wish - really wish that my difficult children were at grade level & could/would do homework.

Sorry it's been such a tough night for you.


It's a battle in this house every morning for school with very few exceptions. There is not a meltdown every morning, but there is a battle every morning. This morning difficult child finally got up with only 15 minutes to get dressed and eat before we had to leave. She refused breakfast because she doesn't feel good (and she made to sure to tell me how much I don't care about her and how much the school doesn't care and how much nobody cares about her). She doesn't feel good every morning. I didn't worry so much about breakfast because since there is achievement testing this week the school provides snacks before and after. At least we avoided a meltdown this morning. It's kind of sad when you lower your expectations to the point that no meltdown, regardless of the rest of the morning struggle, is a good day.


You have my sympathy.

We no longer have the morning battles, but I remember them well.

If difficult child is out of school, I also try to help keep him up with the class.

I do not fight the homework battles any more. If difficult child can do homework, it gets done. If he can't, he can't. It just makes things worse to require it.

And if this is anxiety related, it complicates the problem 10-fold in our household. I'd rather deal with just about anything than difficult child's anxiety when it gets out of hand.


Active Member
Heather, two things here:

1) Do your darndest to avoid homework hassles by asking the school to not send homework. I got to the point where I only used homework as something to give difficult child 3 to do when he was home sick from school (which was most of the time, due to his anxiety). I told the school that if he was sick I wanted worksheets from them, but if he was attending school then I would not insist on him doing homework, because after him trying to hold it together all day at school, to make him do more when he got home was too difficult for him and for us all. Besides, his medications would be worn off and he wouldn't cope very well. We did our best getting him to do homework in the mornings, or if the teacher cooperated, on weekends. But NEVER late in the day, when his coping skills were gone out the window.

2) The nausea - it sounds so much like difficult child 3. He got to the stage where he was vomiting at school, often repeatedly. His teacher insisted he was making it happen, deliberately trying to retch. But I also saw him at home when this would sometimes happen (usually when we were talking about him going to school that day) and he was not trying to force himself to vomit. It is possible that at school he didn't try to stop it, because his teacher was insisting that he was NOT sick. At first I backed up the teacher and now feel like a real rat. The teacher WAS a "female dog" and is one of the worst at the school, in never listening to parents or therapists, and doing things her own, lazy way. She has since banned therapists from visiting her classroom and refused to meet with them when the parent requests it. Parents are too scared to report her for this so she gets away with it.
Back to the nausea - difficult child 3 liked school and wanted to be at school. Despite my opinion of his teacher, he actually likes all those who have been his teacher (I don't think some of them deserve this loyalty, myself). But an example - it was his birthday towards the end of the summer holidays, we were having a happy day and he asked me, "School goes back next week, doesn't it? This year, I will not let the bullies upset me. If they get nasty or hit me I will walk away and tell a teacher."
Despite that positive statement, within half an hour, he was vomiting.
This is a kid who doesn't get car-sick, he doesn't vomit at any other time. The anxiety was THAT severe.

We couldn't let the vomiting stop him doing his work, though. While the teacher would accuse him of faking it, I didn't. But I did say to him, "Honey, this nausea of yours is a problem but we know that it is NOT a symptom of something nasty; I know you have a slight fever but you actually are NOT really ill, you just feel ill because you are very anxious. If you were acutely ill, I would take you to the doctor to try to make you better. But with this, the doctor can't diagnose a bug or give you medicine because what you need is to be able to not get so upset and anxious. And we shouldn't let it interfere with your education, you just have to find a way to work with this. So you have to keep working. If you want to get in your pyjamas and go to bed that's OK, but you take your work with you and do it while you're snuggled up in bed."

That's when we brought in a rule, "School work during school hours". I did change the work around sometimes, letting him do easier work or work he enjoyed more, if he was more anxious than usual. For harder work I would let him snuggle with me while he did it, while I read my own book or did my own work on my computer. Especially when he first began correspondence school, he seemed to want to be touching me but NOT to have me help him. He just seemed to want the physical reassurance and encouragement.

What has worked best of all - to teach him to self-motivate. You're already working along that path, form what you describe. The problem is, she's getting anxious and stressed but unable to articulate the specific need properly, or to organise her thoughts. having a good vocabulary doesn't mean that she can always explain how she feels - trying to find the right label is only part of that problem. Trying to identify and explain the unexplainable is also a bit problem. She sounds like she really does want to do well and this is also adding to her anxiety.

difficult child 3 now has his work highly organised. Each subject teacher sends him his worksheets, numbered in sequence. difficult child 3 does them, I sign them to say it was his own work, date them and post them back to the school. If difficult child 3 has a question he can ask me because I generally know the answers, but too often he prefers to telephone the teacher himself. (He did this today - his maths work asked him to identify the median of a series of scores, I told him how to do it for an even number of scores, I got it up on Wikipedia, difficult child 3 chose to confirm this with his teacher. Hey, he prefers the authority. I'm cool with it.)
difficult child 3 got angry with me a few weeks ago when I said he was falling behind. He works hard but has the occasional 'off' day, and these are catching up with him. So he calculated what week of the school year we were up to, and then checked off the worksheet numbers. OK, I was right. He wasn't happy about being behind. So we worked together on a good rate of work to aim for - two worksheets a day, to keep up and catch up. He chooses which subject, out of the pile of work waiting to be done. We discuss which days would be best to do certain subjects - save the easier subjects for more stressful days, for example.

But he is motivated to do well, and I encourage. I use bribes - he wanted a comic book and I bought it for him so he wouldn't worry about the shop selling out, but I told him he could only have it when certain worksheets had been completed - about two days' work. He asks for a treat like an ice cream, I tell him he can have it when he's completed that day's worksheets; to treat himself as a reward.

I help him when he asks but he generally chooses to not ask because he feels that if I help him then it's not his work. He's had several teachers tell him that it IS still his work, that they want him to learn by doing, not be perfect immediately. If I read him a list of words and their meaning, that's OK because by typing it all down, he is learning. If he takes two days to look them up in the dictionary and then types them out, that it a waste of time.

Basically, a perfectionist kid can be very difficult with homework when they know they are not functioning at their best. The anxiety can be VERY nasty and needs to be acknowledged before you can teach her to ignore it as best as she can. She isn't faking, she isn't being a drama queen (although I do call difficult child 3 that sometimes) - she just needs it acknowledged so you can then encourage her to carry on regardless. Because illness can only be an excuse up to a point - after that, when your schoolwork begins to suffer, the reason doesn't matter once you get a failing grade. They can't pass you if you fail, just because you were sick. If you don't know the work you can't build on it the following year. If this is because you were lazy, or because you were sick - it makes no difference. You still have to do the work. Once you can help her understand this, and help her see that you want to work with her to help her reduce her anxiety, then things can turn around.

With difficult child 3 we use various tricks to reduce his anxiety - essential oil of lavender in an oil burner; a lava lamp; soothing music; a plate of fruit or sandwiches. it only works a little bit, but every bit counts.

It's a hard road, but as I said, you're already on the way.



This wasn't homework. This was class make-up work from being absent. I don't do the homework battle anymore. For awhile she wasn't being assigned homework at all. The teachers started assigning homework with no notice to me, but I don't worry about it much. She can generally do most of it without too much stress, but the math almost always throws her into a meltdown so I don't push it and they quit assigning it. They're at the age where the math they are doing is more complex, has more steps, and she has problems with complex problems. It takes her longer to catch on. And, Marg, you are right. She is a perfectionist.

I know that it's anxiety. I also know how severe how anxiety can be from personal experience. When I was in the 9th grade I lived with my grandparents for 6 months (my choice). I threw up every morning on the way to school. After the first couple of days you learn not to eat breakfast...then it's just dry heaves. The closer we got to school the worse it would be until I finally got out of the car. So, I completely get it. Sometimes I think that my personal experience has made me too empathic and makes it harder for me to force her to do what needs to be done because I know how hard it is. But I also know that if I don't, life will be harder. Sigh...

difficult child has an excellent vocabulary, but very few feeling words. With difficult child it's all or nothing. Love or hate. The best example I have is a Christmas 2 or 3 years ago. She told me repeatedly how it was the best Christmas ever. She was so happy and just a lovebug. Later that night, the batteries died in her new game. All of a sudden it was the worst Christmas ever. She is that way with everything and everyday.

I do try to help her understand that these physical complaints are anxiety and depression. She has almost zero insight and steadfastly refuses to make that correlation. I did tell her this morning that we went to the doctor last week and they did tests for mono, anemia and to check her thyroid and everything was normal so she wasn't ill and that these were symptoms of her anxiety and depression. We have a lot of things to discuss this afternoon. Her room is an absolute disaster of unimaginable proportions. I think that I will help her clean her room and take the opportunity to discuss these things further.

difficult child loves to learn. She craves it. The problem is in the format in which she is currently required to learn. It just doesn't work for her. Since school is her number 1 trigger by a mile (which just keeps her in a constant state of anxiety/agitation/frustration which leads to depression and anger), I think it's time for me to think outside the box on this issue. We've done the online school before and it was a disaster. A daily battle just like homework. I'm going to have to give this some serious thought.