My 8 year old girl is most of the times very lazy, does not listen or stay focus. For example in the morning before dropping her to school, I prepare some homework for her to do and put it on the table. Then I ask her to finish the homework before 5PM. Out of 10 times she would do it 1 time. The other times she makes excuses, like "I forgot", "I was too tired", "I am not feeling well" etc.. This is just one example.

When its time for her to do the regular school homework, it takes her forever to do do it. Something that should be completed in 30 minutes maximum will take 2 hours with a lot of stress and repeating things over and over again. For example if the homework is to read a paragraph and answer the questions, she will not read it and instead just sit there and will draw in her homework. If she wants, she can do the homework within 15 minutes, but that happens very rare. The same goes for cleaning up toys, doing the bed, throwing dirty clothes into the basket etc.. Her teacher complain about the same thing. She does not focus and if she does she usually does a good job.

This is very frustrating and I don't know what to do any more.

Please give me some advise.

  • 1
    It sounds like she views homework as boring and having no benefit. Try to make it seem more exciting; perhaps offer a reward for doing the homework. Personally, when I was like this, this worked like a charm: my mom sat next to me whenever I was doing homework. Yes, it took a lot of her time, but she could be doing something else such as reading a book at the same time.
    – Justin
    Feb 24, 2015 at 4:38
  • Related: parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/75/… Feb 24, 2015 at 6:55
  • 1
    Child in "Finding actual fun things more fun than homework" shocker.
    – Jon Story
    Feb 24, 2015 at 16:47
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    While I would strongly encourage you to first try others' suggestions first, I'd like you to be aware that our eldest daughter's long path to ADD diagnosis started this way. There are two types (some doctors say as many as six types) of ADD. The type my daughter was diagnosed with is called "Inattentive". It's more common in girls, and it often goes undiagnosed until middle school, when screwing around with homework just doesn't cut it. She was diagnosed by a team of doctors who worked with a school psychologist who sat in her classes and observed. Post treatment was like night & day.
    – Calphool
    Feb 25, 2015 at 2:24
  • See @anongoodnurse response below. Caution on the ADHD label and drugs - it is at best seriously over-diagnosed, and at worst a completely fake condition. Some experts, including the gentleman who first coined the phrase, believe it is a fabrication of the medical community. Others suggest that it is a symptom of any of several simple physiological issues that should to be treated directly, rather than a condition in and of itself to be treated with psychoactive drugs. See This link: dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2592641/…
    – pojo-guy
    Mar 19, 2017 at 2:58

3 Answers 3


Your 8 year old doesn't sound like she's lazy or unfocused; she sounds like an average 8 year old. For young children, play is the work of life. Now she needs to add school work to that list of things that are her work.

Most kids don't have a natural sense of self-discipline; it's hard work and not very rewarding. Kids have to acquire self-discipline with parental help. That's part of your job as a parent.

Right now, though, this is stressing you both out, so here are some ways you can both get back on track.

Don't fight or nag over schoolwork.

Just don't. It's frustrating for you, and empowers her to divert your energy in a manner that gets her out of doing homework. Kids can cast all kinds of bait out there (it's normal). Don't take it. If you need to have discussions about respect, feelings, desires, frustrations, etc. - and everyone should get to express these things in a loving and trusting relationship - do it sometime other than when homework is supposed to be getting done.

Set up a specific time for homework.

Figure out a time that suits your child and you/your family, write it out and post it on the refrigerator. Then stick with it. Maybe after a brief relax and snack after school/before dinner/after dinner, with a bathroom break before it starts (just not before bedtime).

Let her know that there is a time to eat, a time to do homework and also that there is free time. Ten minutes of homework per grade level is the recommended norm, so at grade 3, she should have no more than ~30 minutes a day. That's reasonable and doable (hopefully for both of you).

On no homework weekdays, consider keeping that time for quiet time where she can read books or do other non-technology learning things.

Sit with her while she does her homework.

Most young children require a parent's help getting started, and need help staying focused too. It's perfectly OK. Also, sometimes fussing starts because a child is not confident about the work and feels anxious. In this case, do her homework with her to see if she understands how to do it, or feels particularly stressed over some aspect of it.

Even if she isn't, at first spend the whole time sitting there. After learning what her assignment is, work out the first problem or two (or listen to her read the first few sentences) to make sure she understands the work at the level that's expected. Then read a book. (This also reinforces that reading is important both as a child and as an adult.) Studies have shown that the best students are the ones whose parents spend the time involved with their schoolwork. As she learns to do her work, you might be able to leave her alone for longer periods (this earns her rewards, too!)

Have a predetermined, clear, reasonable list of rewards and consequences.

This can be discussed and negotiated with your child at a different time, even over ice cream! But be specific. When she finishes her homework, she gets to do things she likes to do. A video game, a TV show, read her a story, time outside, having a friend over, etc. Work on this with her.

A sticker chart for bigger rewards is good, too. A week of doing her homework without fussing/within the allotted time/whatever is most important to you should earn her 'big girl rewards': a long board game she loves on the weekend, an outing to the park/swimming pool/movies/bowling/a cookie-baking session, etc. Four weeks without fussing/etc.? A sleepover for her friends with pizza, ice cream and a movie is nice (something special for her), a trip to the beach, a shopping day, etc. Let her learn that good things happen as a result of complaint-free homework.

Consequences for not doing homework: she doesn't get to do any of those things until her it is finished. If she holds out all evening (her choice up to a point; don't argue), the next day, she gets to try again. Don’t take away privileges for more than a day. If you do, she'll have no incentive to do better the next day.

What if she starts fussing? Don't engage. Use a timer for homework, and stop the timer if she starts complaining (unless she's asking for help with something). If it goes on too long, a short time out (no toys or other activities) might be in order. Start it again when she returns to her homework. No sticker for that homework session.

Praise all effort.

Praise effort - holding back from complaining, sitting quietly, working on solving problems, etc., rather than criticize lack of effort or bad attitude. Sincere praise for things she's able to control - trying, sitting quietly, not complaining, getting it done on time, etc. - is very helpful and empowering for children.

Try challenging her from time to time.

See how long it takes her to get her homework done on average. If you see her dawdling, you might offer her a reward for extra effort form time to time, e.g. for every minute that she gets it done earlier than 30 minutes, she might get, say, an extra minute or two of computer time, story time, or even to stay up an extra few minutes. Sometime, as she's getting better at doing her work on time, you see if she wants to try to beat her best score. Keep it light, though, and pressure free, and make sure her answers are correct!

Sorry this is so long. I do wish you good fortune in working with your daughter to teach her responsibility, and the rewards of doing well in school.

  • 1
    +1 for Praising! It could be the most cost-effective tool I've used for getting my son to form better habits. The point also touches on being patient, but I feel it's worth explicitly saying the praise will be less effective if you've been showing stress and/or impatience during these sessions.
    – Orion
    Feb 24, 2015 at 13:51
  • 1
    Thank you so much. I would give you more up-votes if I could. I will try your suggestions and update this thread with the progress. Feb 25, 2015 at 2:59

You could also try to find other kids or parents who have an inspirating power over your kid, and arrange that your kid does his homework together with this influencing person.

Until I was 17 I HATED studying. Five minutes of it and I would be going crazy, but somehow a cousin of mine offered himself to study with me.

He just sit there near me and told me to study physics, and if I had any question I could ask him. He sat near me and was studying for his engineering course. As it was hot summer in Brazil and the warmth made it made so difficult to concentrate, he put a fan under the table to refresh my foot.

With him near me, I could study from 10 am to 10 pm without seeing the time passing. I just needed him there for some DAYS, and after this, studying because my greatest hobby! I could study 12 hours non-stop, and it was the biggest joy of my life!

My parents were trying to motivate me since years with no success, and my cousin did such a job in only some days!

So, if you if you see you have no positive influence over the motivation of your kid, just try to find somebody who has it. This person will perform almost effortlessly whereas you would spend your whole life on it! :)


It is quite possible that your daughter is not challenged enough in school and therefore is not motivated to perform repetitive homework that might be too easy for her. I would advise you to have her tested. A lot of highly intelligent children are underachieving, because they quickly get demotivated when schoolwork is too easy for them.

  • Why the downvote ? Feb 24, 2015 at 9:41
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    This is rather incomplete, and also doesn't provide a solution: let's say the daughter is very smart and finds the work boring, it still needs to get done. Also, the housework aspects aren't addressed.
    – Acire
    Feb 24, 2015 at 12:18
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    While I agree that this may be one of many possible explanations (so no -1 from me), this answer needs more work to be truly helpful.
    – Stephie
    Feb 24, 2015 at 20:36

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