homework, homestruggle, homemeltdown

Anyone have any suggestions as to how I can best work with my difficult child and her school re the hw issue. Background, has adhd, odd, depression, maybe bipolar, maybe eating disorder (binging only), soon to hope to start medications..plus has some Learning Disability (LD) issues re math and reading..........soooooooooooooo
the only way to not make hw an issue in our house would be to leave it at school. Anyone out there done that within their iep?

Otherwise it's the combined rage and meltdown because she's having difficulty with the work, doesn't want to ask for help from the teachers, then comes home and loses it, but at the same time, doesn't really want help with hw, most times just wants the answers instead.

Really has a problem in putting any effort into her work, ie if its hard, rather rage for an hour than apply herself for 20 minutes, even though she is capable of some of that work and if she put some effort in, could accomplish it.

Of late, her violence has escalated, and so I want to try to find a way for the homework to stay at school and only be completed there, to avoid the rage, but at the same time, I want for her to learn that in life, you have to put in effort.
By that I mean, she needs to learn that she can't just rage and scream and avoid and get out of hard work throughout her life, and that by applying herself , she can accomplish goals. And I don't want her to think that the rules of life and school don't apply to her. Hence my quandary.

All input greatly appreciated. by the way, 11 yo.

Also, we've already been there done that with my not helping other than explaining directions with the hw, and if she doesn't understand it, for her to bring it back to speak with the teacher the next day. She has such a fear of other students or even the teacher thinking she's not smart that she'd rather cut off her own foot than admit she has a problem, then comes home and implodes and explodes on us.


New Member
so sorry for all the troubles you are having, know EXACTly what you mean too, same issues here, same rages, same feelings.

at her last school they had made an effort to never send homework and graded her on the classwork she had completed versus those assignments that had not been turned in, or otherwise not completed. The idea was just to get difficult child to do as best as she could with what she could and give her a better sense of self confidence.

a reward system was also in place for when she did assignments at home. it wasn't much, (at the time it was a piece of candy)but it did help to motivate somewhat, and that was all that mattered.

One of the things I plan to discuss at my appointment with the school tommarow is fequent motivationals as well, I think it seems to work better with children who have ODD (too, I think it tends to help in the area of depression as well)... not necessarily a punishment for NOT doing hw, but a reward FOR doing it.
just keeping fingers crossed they will at least agree to this simple request...

hopefully some others will come on and offer more suggestions as well....I'm as "all ears" as you on this one

Me-33yr old mom of 2, tierd but hanging on for dear life
SO-brave fiance that has the picture and STILL wants to be a family
difficult child-10&3/4yr old daughter, ADD/ADHD,childhood onset scz and CD,just recently regressing, to start new medications later this month, passed medications include prozac, risperdal, ritalin and cataprez.
easy child-9yr old daughter, over achiever,very close to difficult child, s/howing signs of ADHD at school, but mom thinks school just can't keep up with her
samson-2yr old adopted kitty with nervous disorder-passed away March 2, 2001, we are all very broken up right now


Well-Known Member

I have the exact same issues here too. I am waiting and listening, hoping to get some ideas. The homework battles and rages are just overwhelming.


9 year old, ODD, fun loving free spirited daughter/adopted
14 year old sensitive, self motivated daughter
husband and best friend of 27 years

Hi - we are having the same question with Jake. His teacher keeps pushing him to read "classic" books that he claims he is not interested in. He would rather read "My teacher is an alien," stuff like that.

I sort of thought - who cares? Let him read what he likes and at least learn to enjoy reading.

But I also think: he is going to have to learn eventually that in the real world sometimes you have to do things you don't want to and you don't like. Maybe he should start learning it at school! It's not like all the other kids love every single assignment, right?

So I don't know. Motivation works to a certain point - we've tried 15 minutes on the internet when homework is done, etc.
Sometimes that helps.

But sometimes I worry that Jake is growing up to believe that someone has to crown him king EVERY SINGLE TIME he accomplishes even the smallest task.

Hope other people have better suggestions!
I do empathize!


mother of two boys
12 year old difficult child: currently on clonidine, adderall, and Lamictal.
Antidepressants (Paxil and Zoloft), were a DISASTER.

18 year old is easy child when he isn't being too cool to talk to us
husband is the only thing keeping me sane

Former motto: "If yelling worked, I would know about it."




Not only can freedom from the destructive effects of homework be written into an IEP it should be in the opinion of Dr Greene of "The Explosive Child."

Our lives with difficult child has reached an all time low when husband "resigned" from homework when difficult child was in 5th grade. As he put it: "I've already been through elementary school and I don't need to do it again." (I had resigned long before, but not formally).

MrNo's psychiatrist put it in writing that homework was escalating his ODDness at home, and further damaging our relationship with him. This is why my difficult child (who attends all "regular" classes) has resource: that is where he does his homework or not at all. (And this is STILL the case -- even tho' he is a greatly improved difficult child after two years of pt. time school attendance.)

I had an IEP "tune-up" in January where a (new to the district) teacher said in effect, "I can't believe this kid is 'excused' from homework. Why?" The principal stepped in and said, "ED kids manifest their disturbance in many ways. This child will cause endless power struggles over homework and never complete or learn anything. We will not help him down that destructive path. He has approximately 60 minutes in school to get his homework done. You will all (4 treachers)assign his homework modifications accordingly."

This principal is one of the truly good guys and has insight into how NOT to make an ODD kid worse. Also, he pointed out that MrNo WOULD do "projects" at home and even liked them, so he should receive "extra credit" for his very elaborate projects toward the routine homework he doesn't ever do.

Side note: I was MrNo's "guest speaker" on teenage depression for his science presentation last Friday. He did the natural treatments parts and I got diagnosis, prescription medications, and therapy. Interesting topic for him to choose, don't you think? He got extra credit for doing:
a 55 minute presentation (as opposed to 25)
having a guest speaker
giving an interactive quiz to his classmates
using power point (he did my presentation, too!)
and having a motivational contest with rewards for all participants (candy)

His principal would say the above is better than routine homework and I would agree.

So sorry to ramble about difficult child but this is an area that I have experienced HUGE stress relief with (relatively) little resistence from the school just by putting this into the IEP. I wish others of you could get the same.

Final thought: I think because my difficult child is so clearly "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink..." subtype, and not Learning Disability (LD), most of the teachers don't want to fight this fight anymore. However, having a parents who will not destroy the remains of their relationship with him over homework and a psychiatrist and principal who endorse that viewpoint has helped.

Mother of 13 y.o. MrNo (Major Dep -in remission, ODD, not ADHD or Learning Disability (LD), musically very gifted; attends regular classes part-time; pursues music the rest of the day) and a 16 yo easy child daughter. husband of 23 yrs.

My son is in Gr. 3 (8) and we were going through the same power struggles over hw - did you know that 4 x 6 is NOT 24? According to my son that is! So, I too have decided to take the "natural consequences" action - if he doesn't complete his homework, he can suffer the consequences at school. I've already completed school - and suffered my own consequences for not doing my homework. In the end, he may even fail his Gr. (although, he acedemics are about average right now) - but HE will be the one who has to repeat the work - HE will be the one to see all of his friends go on to Gr. 4.
I also try to focus on the POSITIVE aspects of completing his work - rewarding him when he does a GOOD job and focus on taking responsibility for his actions, his school work, his behavior.
So, when he says, "I don't want to do my homework." I say, "That's fine, you will have to explain at school why it is not done." Of course, he isn't then allowed to go out with his friends or play Nintendo.....


WOW, my daughter hasn't done homework in years. She's in 6th grade. I've decided that I will not feed into the raging. If she fails she fails, because it is too draining to argue for 3 hours to get any homework at all out of her. She doesn't care about school at all. It gets me angry that they continually pass her to another grade when she doesn't accomplish anything as their excuse is she has the skills she just won't apply them. I have gotten a tutor but it really hasn't helped she plays games and refuses to comply.
Sorry that this isn't advise, but I've given up on her, I just don't want to deal with it any more. After years of being a victim of her's, I just don't deal with it. She has ruined my life.


New Member
That was SO interesting, Martie .... I had forgotten that part of the book but then we have a different system.
But I feel very much lighter since I resigned from doing homework ... at least from the hassles. Since I put it all in writing to the teacher, explaining, and saying she could put my letter in my 10 yo's student record if she wanted.
This is not my difficult child with ODD ... we will have battles over anything, and her spec.ed. teacher fully understands if h/w is not done, no problem.
But the regular teachers in regular classes - a whole different story. Especially as I don't have a diagnosis for my 10 yo and don't think I need one ... she is just plain strong-willed, stubborn, and full of opp.def.behaviour, but does not need medications for opp.def.disorder.
I have talked about this with so many people ... it's been a frequent topic on here and at my weekly team meetings, and the general consensus is if the hassles are destroying the harmony in the home, making it an unpleasant place to be, a limit must be set. Time, opportunity, help and materials are offered. If the child refuses to accept that, and meltdown happens ... let them meltdown.
It is so often the case that the child can do it if he/she wants; that if they accept the help they feel wonderful about going to school prepared for the test, or with homework well done. But if they refuse, and it becomes a power struggle, it's just not worth it ... the relationship suffers.
I get horrible feelings of guilt when 10 yo comes home with an R, but I know she feels shame ... and I do think that very gradually she is learning that she has to take some responsibility for it. I think that is a life message in itself.
I know the rages that go on for hours when 20 mins would see the work done ... I am just not going to go through them any more. And if Jess fails, she will feel bad ... I do think peer pressure plays a part, and I also hope that eventually, since she is relatively normal, she will become motivated to succeed.
I don't know if that helps at all ... but for what it's worth, if you do all that can normally be expected, like being available to help and setting that time aside, what is being accomplished if all it is, is a huge fight? Not a whole lot.
Oops - have to go help with homework!

Adoptive/therapeutic foster mom, supportive husband
3 adoptees: 14 yo m, easy child, intermittent ADD, Ritalin as required; 12 yo f difficult child, ODD, MID, sp.ed.,Risperidal & Dexadrine; 10 yo f difficult child-wanna-be with opp.def.beh; Adopted at 4, 4 and 2.
2 foster: 13 yo f, ADD, MID, sp.ed, Dexadrine; 15 yo f, no diagnosis yet.
4 teen boys who call this 'home' when they need one.
3 dogs, 4 cats, all help with therapy.
"Tomorrow is another day."

I think ALL parents need to resign from homework and the teachers need to reinforce it. From what I see, even the majority of normal kids are getting parental help for homework. This raises the bar too high, is unfair to students with poorly educated parents, and does the kids no good (actually is detrimental). Any sign of parental participation should make the homework invalid and ungraded (as in my days at school). After that, there are several sets of kids left. They include the kids who can do the homework and will do it, the kids who can but won't (who should be allowed to suffer the natural consequences) and the kids that can't (because of learning or emotional differences). The latter should have their homework modified or eliminated per IEP. (in my humble opinion)

Our difficult child did homework - but not very willingly until 6th grade and then the school told all the kids it was normal to get C's and that C's were great grades in Middle School...she never got above a C after that...Then we went to 8th grade and she just quit doing her work. She has some Learning Disability (LD) and is even on medications now to help her and she just will not do the work until the end of the semester and then does enough to just pass. IF you beg her to. We quit begging, grounding, complaining, and she then got the Learning Disability (LD) resources teachers to talk and reason, and beg her to just do so many assignments and you can pass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We quit for quite awhile even having consequences to failing classes and not doing work. We are back to not playing the game, but having consequences for F'. I KNOW she will pass or fail at her own choice, but I feel somehow she needs to still be held accountable and our rule is if the teachers "bring her defiance home to us" then she gets consequences at home. Short and direct consequences, but something never the less. I really do NOT begin to know what is right or what would ever work to change it!

Nay, married 32 yrs., mother of 7,
husband- a blessing!
31/f/easy child/ married, kids, Christian Ed. director
29/m/easy child: married, kids, police officer
26/f/easy child: adopted, married, teacher
25/m/easy child: adopted,recovering addict,married, factory worker
21/m/difficult child: adopted,ODD, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), lives out of state!
20/m/difficult child:adopted, ADHD,Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE),sociopath, diagnosed with no conscience, lives out of home
14/f/difficult child: adopted,ADHD,ODD,Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)(?), Anxiety Disorder,on ritalin & wellbutrin

I refuse to endure meltdowns over homework....What he doesn't do at home, he does in class the next day, then he can go to recess. He did no homework last night, but did it lickety split today at school so he didn't miss out on too much recess time.

Me- 28, going insane
husband-31, Major difficult child, no diagnosis though
difficult child-Brenden, 7, diagnosis ADHD 4, possible ODD, waiting on diagnosis
easy child-4, always smiling and happy


New Member
After years of suffering, I finally went into the 'natural consequences' camp and stopped helping my daughter when she was about 11 or so. With my odd grand-difficult child, however, the school/her teacher refuse to acknowledge that her disability is the cause of her problems. They have a strict 'she must take responsibility' policy, which so far has gotten us all nowhere. We got a tutor from the mediation, but so far the SD has only given us one name, and the only mutually-convenient time for us to talk was this Friday evening. So no tutor helping as yet. Martie, I'd love to cut and save to quote at an IEP (anonymously, of course) just the principal quote from your post above. May I have permission to do that?

This too shall pass.
Me: Mother and Grandmother, 52 years.
6 of us share a 2 bdrm apt in California -- it's a bit cozy.
difficult child Granddaughter -- 10 yrs. -- ADHD and ODD
Granddaughter -- 9 yrs. -- MID and ADHD
Grandson -- 11 -- easy child
difficult child Daughter: ADHD, Learning Disability (LD), MID -- 35 yrs.
easy child Daughter: 30 yrs.
Cat: Taz (easy child daughter's)
3 parakeets: Moe and Larry, and Curly



As far as I am concerned, as long as you don't post it on the Web, you can use anything from the post. That's why I wrote it.

I have one more general comment: natural consequences are really punishment and for ODD kids who can (but won't), these natural consequences lead to greater anger, more disturbed behavior, and eventually school refusal or truancy in my experience. (We tried that in 6th grade--husband and I resigned but the homework stayed--by January we had full blown school refusal)

To have a nonLD kid must seem like a good thing for those of you who have difficult children struggling with Learning Disability (LD). Of course, for the long term, it is but in the short term, the "can but won't" always comes up and it leads to "natural consequences" that kids who have ODD could change if they wanted to.

In depressed, ODD difficult children the kid is self-punishing so any additional punishment makes things worse in my opinion. Therefore, I think that more kids would benefit from homework limitation written into their IEPs than have it currently.

To clarify the consequences: my difficult child may not finish his homework in the time he has in resource (although he is ultra-efficient and even tho' he's a bit beyond not wanting to miss recess--same principle LOL) but he suffers a "natural consequence" when it comes time to take a test but he "can't fail" for lack of homework alone. I think this is appropriate for a kid who would love nothing more than to spend his time in power struggles over WHETHER to ever start something and never learn anything but how to do better power struggles.

Mother of 13 y.o. MrNo (Major Dep -in remission, ODD, not ADHD or Learning Disability (LD), musically very gifted; attends regular classes part-time; pursues music the rest of the day) and a 16 yo easy child daughter. husband of 23 yrs.

Thanks for the replies.

My problem is re hw, if it comes home, and difficult child says she "needs help", when i try to explain what she is having difficulty with, she proceeds to, over and over again, say she doesn't understand (sometimes she doesn't, sometimes she doesn't want to do the work)

Then when i leave the room after telling her it is her work and she will not learn if I give her the answers, she proceeds to scream that I won't help her, I'm mean, then she proceeds to trash her room, tear her books on occasion, and start throwing things at me and around the house.

Hence my need to not have the homework come home. We already are doing the 'You don't finish it on your own, you will have a consequence at school,' but the problem is her raging at home, with or without the consequence at school.

Martie, her adhd prevents her from having so much as a clue about organization, so the great report that MrNo did would be my best dream, but unfortunately will never be my reality.

Dear Martie: I agree with you totally. In my thinking, many ODD kids are really in the "can't" category even though they appear to be in the "can but won't" category. There is a glitch in their thinking that really makes them more of a "can't". I think the hard part is figuring out which kids will improve by letting natural consequences kick in and in which kids this will make the situation worse. Clearly in your son's case, letting natural consequences kick in would have just fueled the fire.

I can sure relate to the homework nightmare. I have 2 difficult child's that give me headaches over homework. Like many of you have said, if either of them spent as much time applying themselves to the homework as they do to fighting doing it, they'd be Rhodes Scholars by now. When they ask for help, what they actually want is for me to sit right there and give them the answers. My 10 year old son does the stall thing. He'll sit down with his homework in front of him, and then talk about everything else under the sun. After stalling for 40 minutes he'll have one sentence on his paper!!! I've told him over and over again, that he would have been finished if he would just pay attention to the work in front of him. My 8 year old daughter on the other hand has started lying about what she has to do, or "forgetting" her homework in school. She's also the one that will argue tooth and nail about the answers when I tell he she did one wrong. Both of my children are Learning Disability (LD) in reading so I do help to clarify directions, but what they both want is for me to do it. I end up wanting to pull my hair out before all is done. My son's teacher has been keeping him after school 2 days a week to help him with his homework, which is a wonderful break for me....I love this woman, but I still battle the rest of the week. I have spoken with my daughter's teacher and am waiting to hear from her about when we can get together to discuss this issue. I have to admit my children's school is wonderful, and they are very willing to modify their work, I just feel like such a failure as a parent for whining about this homework thing. but now I'm beginning to realize I'm not alone. Thanks for lisenting to my ramble.

40yo mom of 3
husband of 11 years depressed and alcoholic
18 year old easy child son
10 year old son ADHD
8 year old daughter ADHD & I suspect ODD or bi-polar


Dear blb,

I realize that some of the things I say about my difficult child do not apply to other kids. That is why I list him as nonLD and nonADHD in my signature--but he is the "real deal" in ODDness--and his intelligence gives him a good handle on how to frustrate others maximally. (All blessings are mixed).

So I really did have the problem you do: rages AT HOME over homework. He never did those "extra good" projects when he had regular homework with us involved. He never did anything but rage.

I would encourage you to take a look at the part of my post that indicates that my difficult child's homework is limited to what he can do in the resource room BY IEP.

If he doesn't finish in the resource room, he carries his stuff home in a backpack, drops it in the fron hall, where it sits until the next morning. At least we don't have to nag and PRETEND he is going to do it. Hence, no rages.

What applies to mine that may not help others is when I say he is "ultra-efficient" in the resource room: that means he wastes no time and doesn't struggle with the resource teacher. He can be efficient bec. he does not have ADHD but the principle still apllies: your difficult child would struggle less with supervised homework at school than with you. Further, if the homework time at school isn't productive, how are you supposed to do any better at home?

Finally, you are you child's parent--this means (to me) that you should be doing something with your child in the evening OTHER THAN fighting someone else's battle.

Hope this clarifies why I think many more kids than mine could benefit from homework limitations.

Mother of 13 y.o. MrNo (Major Dep -in remission, ODD, not ADHD or Learning Disability (LD), musically very gifted; attends regular classes part-time; pursues music the rest of the day) and a 16 yo easy child daughter. husband of 23 yrs.

Thanks Martie for the reply.

My problem now appears to be that my difficult child's sub teacher and school psychiatric believes I am telling the child that she cannot do the work, and in the words of the school psychiatric, I am lowering her self esteem, NOT that difficult child had hidden Learning Disability (LD) issues for 3 years hence self esteem is taking a beating. And I'm the one to finally discover the problem, and am being persecuted as the evil step mom, whose telling the "poor child" she can't do the work.

Unfortunately, difficult child has been telling the school all kinds of things, and has a fairly good audience there so that even though her WISC-II proved processing speed deficits, and her aide for perceptual motor lab sees the problems, no one is willing to come forward and agree that she is having difficulty. Even though her hw and tests indicate it.

In fact school psychiatric has gone against 2 psychiatric evaluations we have done in the past year and in court has stated its purely an adolescent issue. And school psychiatric has convinced a new psychiatrist of same, when in fact difficult child has been triangulating everyone, but especially school psychiatric.

School psychiatric went so far as to say difficult child needed to be removed from our home because of mental abuse, when infact difficult child is the one doing the raging, with police reports to back it up.

The saddest part of this is difficult child will be the one to lose if she doesn't stop the lies and come clean, but she's 11 and wants her way, no matter who (most importantly herself) she ultimately hurts.

I am so depressed by all of this. thanks again for your replies


Well-Known Member

I couldn't agree with you more. I want to start doing something with my difficult child in the evening other than fighting other people's battles too.


9 year old, ODD, fun loving free spirited daughter/adopted
14 year old sensitive, self motivated daughter
husband and best friend of 27 years