In my many years of experience helping children and parents with academic and behavioral problems, one of the most common issues is difficulty with homework. The purpose of homework is to offer the child further opportunities to independently master their coursework, and perhaps allow parents to become involved in what’s happening with their child at school.
If homework is often a problem for a child, several confounding factors may have developed which add significantly to the problem in a cumulative fashion. Past assignments that need to be made up (undone or never turned in) and uncompleted class work that’s sent home can add much to the burden. Additionally, with homework being a recurring problem, your child may have developed the behavior of hiding homework or being deceptive about what or when something is due.
A typical “problem homework” scenario may include some or all of these patterns. After much cajoling and struggling, the parents get the child to begin their homework. Then ensues a multiple-hours-long battle involving countless distractions and struggles (and phone calls?) to understand material and directions which, unfortunately, the inattentive child didn’t get straight in class, along with outbursts of frustration and anger from all parties. The outcome of this homework session (along with, hopefully, some learning) is exhaustion, hurt feelings, distrust, lowered self-esteem, and anger. Does this sound familiar… ?
What’s very important to understand, and to correct this scenario, is the child may have Attention Deficit Disorder. With the ADHD child, they cannot stop this from happening; it’s part of the uncorrected disorder. However, teachers, other students, and parents often lose sight of this and blame the child. The result is a child who feels very badly about themself and gives up or rebels – or both.
These daily episodes are very damaging to family dynamics. In addition to the harm done to parent-child relationships, there are other significant consequences. Other children’s needs go unattended (not to mention the parents’), important tasks around the house are left undone (dinner anyone?), and last, but definitely not least, the parents’ own relationship suffers, as blaming, overwork, and loss of quality time together are also casualties.
Remember what we said homework was for and supposed to be like in the first paragraph? The homework experience with the ADHD child is not any kind of “building up” – it’s a “tearing down” experience.
Fortunately, this can be changed, without the side effects and rigors of medication. Neurofeedback is an effective, drug-free, painless procedure in which the child learns to retrain the attention mechanisms of their brain, alleviating the condition. Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.
Dr. Stephen A. Ferrari is the Director of Alta Neuro-Imaging Neurofeedback