Among other problems, my daughter doesn't want to write as instructed.

For example, I help her with some homework, like "My measures" where we need to write how tall she is, her arm, etc.

We did the measurement and I wrote 125 in a paper, and she needs to write it in her paper. But she says "no, there says 'random number'" and I told her that she needs to write 125 the same way I did, and she wants me to write for her in the paper, but I think I helped her enough...

But she doesn't want to...

Now I don't know how to manage this, as yelling probably is not a good idea, the only thing I can do is take her tablet and don't allow her to play until she does her homework correctly...

What are other strategies?

She is 6 years old, and she's having some other issues like not wanting to enter school and starting yelling when a teacher wants to guide her inside, but at the same time, at exit she doesn't want to go home. We will soon start sessions with a family counselor and psychologist for her. She's also saying things like "You don't know how to take care of children" and things like that when I say something to her about her doing something the wrong way or bad (misbehaving)... and I think it's because she hears those "made up" conversations from Roblox youtubers that are grown ups imitating conversations between daughter and mom... I proceeded to block those channels.

5 Answers 5


To lead with: while it probably feels like this is extreme and impossible to deal with, we all deal with things that are not all that different as parents. Particularly if you're trying to parent in a manner that's not authoritarian, but is more in the modern vein of trying to help your child make the right choices on their own, there will be plenty of times when they just don't want to do what you want them to do, and since you're trying not to be authoritarian, you feel like you don't have any options other than authoritarianism - but that doesn't work well on a kid who's not used to it.

As you say, obviously yelling isn't an answer here. One major thing is to not take personally any of the things she says to you. "You're a bad parent", "I hate you", etc. - they're hurtful, but she's saying them because she doesn't have the right vocabulary to describe what she feels. What they really mean is "you're not hearing me" and "you're restricting me".

One of those things you can do something about; the other you can't. You do need to restrict her choices to some extent, because she has to do the homework. That's unavoidable - you're not doing your job otherwise! But the other - "you're not hearing me" - you absolutely can do something about.

Start with, "I hear that you're [emotion]. Let's talk about that." Frustrated, sad, angry, whatever matches her emotion right then. Then ask her open ended questions - and ask these legitimately, not just pro forma - about why she's feeling that way. Find out what the problem is. Probe. Get to the bottom of exactly how she's feeling and exactly why.

Then, see what you can do about those issues. Obviously, the answer isn't "stop doing homework" - but it may well be that you can get to somewhere that she feels okay about doing the homework. Or you may be able to give her some perspective.

Here's an example that is more or less how a similar conversation happened with my nine year old (but it could've been nearly identical at six). We'll use the name "John" for anonymity.

Aaaaaa, I don't want to do my homework. Homework is stupid.

I hear that you're frustrated with your homework, John. Can you tell me why?

Because it's stupid.

Hmm, can you tell me why you think it's stupid?

It's too easy. And it takes too long. And I don't learn anything. [John is probably 2-3 grade levels ahead in Math, so this isn't totally wrong.]

Well, if it's easy, it shouldn't take very long, no?

It's easy to DO but it still takes like HALF AN HOUR! I won't get any time to play iPad at all!!

Fair enough, sometimes things can be easy but still take some time. I know that it feels pointless, but there are reasons you do homework, even if you do know the material really well. Eventually you will get to a level where you don't know it very well - and you need to learn how to do homework. It's also how your teacher finds out how well you know the material - even if you know almost everything from third grade already, you might miss a thing or two, and then she can help you focus on those things.

But it's going to take FOREVER! I won't get my iPad time!!

I know it seems like a long time. But we won't get any iPad time if you don't get it done, and I think we have almost an hour and a half right now until dinner - so there will be some time. What do you think would help you get started? Do you think a snack would help? I'd really like to play some Minecraft with you afterwards, and we're using so much of our time already...

I want a snack.

Okay, we can go get some [snack]. Then let's get started on that homework!

[munch munch]

The point of this is to do two things: we find out what the real concerns are [frustration from having to do things that are not right level, and being upset he's losing out on fun activity]. Then we try to address them: explain the reasons for the homework, and make sure he knows he's going to get to fun activity. Plus, add in an extra bonus [playing with Daddy]. Finally, we add a snack in there, which accomplishes two things: if it turns out some of this is low blood sugar, it takes care of that, but more importantly it provides a natural "cutoff" between the upset screaming and the actually-doing-homework.

There's no magic answer, and don't expect anything to work instantly - the point here is to help her learn to trust you and learn that you're listening to her and care about what she feels and thinks. That doesn't mean you let her do what she wants to, because she does have to do the homework. But it means you explain why, take her concerns seriously, use all the active listening tools you have available (repeat back, for example, is a great one), and try to consensus build.

  1. getting help is great
  2. needing help is the human condition, we all need help
  3. my favorite parenting program is Positive Discipline
  4. the program helps parents identify their child's feelings
  5. children's feelings drive thier behavior
  6. the program helps parents effectively address their child's behavior in a way that's kind and firm
  7. a child's behavior is driven by a need to tell adults something that they have no words to describe, so they act it out
  8. electronic devices are not a necessary part of childhood, not that they have to be banned, but they're an add on, and come with issues that have to be addressed
  9. that said, my son, at 11yo did not have a cell phone, a tablet, anything electronic outside of a small hand-held electronic game, and our house is small, so the video games were in the Living Room, these were the golden days
  10. then his dad gave him a PS2, and rules took on an entirely new level of urgency regarding electronics
  11. in my experience yelling only works short-term
  12. in my experience long-term parenting takes more time, more effort, and more committment than short-term parenting, and is totally worth every minute of time, every effort, and every moment when I had to reaffirm my committment to what works long-term

Regarding homework for a 6yo:

There are a number of reasons a child might want their parent to do their homeowrk:

  1. the child feels afraid of doing something wrong
  2. the child doesn't understand the instructions
  3. the child is scamming their parent, to see how much they can get an adult to do their work for them
  4. the child is upset, angry, afraid, worried, or frightened about something else, and this is preventing them from doing homework

If the child is afraid of doing something wrong:

  • break down the homework into the most basic steps and acknowledge each step the child does with smiles and encouragement
  • say nothing negative
  • if they can't finish, try again tomorrow

If the child doesn't understand the instructions:

  • give the first instruction
  • ask your child to repeat it back to you
  • repeat those two steps until the child repeats the instructions back correctly
  • give smiles and encouragement
  • monitor the child and acknowledge progress
  • give the second instruciton, and start at the top of this list

If the child is scamming their parent, to see how much they can get an adult to do for them:

  • remain calm, this is normal behavior for kids
  • give instructions
  • give encouragement
  • express confidence in your child
  • go do something else for a few minutes
  • check in with your child to see their progress
  • if no progress, try the steps for if your child is afraid of doing something wrong or doesn't understand the instructions
  • after trying the other steps, start again at the top of this list, remain calm, give instructions anbd encouragement and express confidence...

If the child is upset, angry, afraid, worried, or frightened about something else, and this is preventing them from doing homework:

  • if all of the above doesn't work, then the lack of progress on homework isn't about homework, something else is going on
  • create a safe space for your child to tell you anything they need to say
  • express your love and concern
  • your child needs to hear something that makes it very clear how you feel about them
  • what worked for me and my kids was this: "I love you, absolutely, who you are on the inside, forever"
  • in the face of all objections and bad behavior, keep trying, and find the words that work for you and your child

I have the same problem with my 5 year old. I think it's kids being kids. Testing our boundaries and pushing buttons. Mine does it all the time. I have to repeat myself 5 times at times till it settles. Then crying, shouting and frustration begins. I try to explain to her she has to listen and it all could be avoided..she puts.hands in her ears and says it hurts her ears when I raise my voice. It's again boundary testing. I do both take stuff and take her bed or not allow her to watch cartoon for example or not playing when she asks..we are trying to emplement the policy you not listening to me I won't be listening to you.


I'll add a little something about school in general. It is common that children don't like school. Some more, some less. People are different and some can arrange themselves with school but others can't. They get sick (first psychologically, later sometimes even physically) because it is so against themselves that you can only keep them in by sheer force, distorting them by that.

There is some research about what our brains need and how they work best and you can easily see that school is far from an ideal environment. You can read e.g. the book "Brain Rules for Work" by John Medina, a biologist with long interest in brains who tries to imagine a perfect environment for flourishing brains.

It's not just about learning, also the social stuff. No time for meaningful interaction with peers, mostly competition, seldom cooperation, bullying etc.

I don't know if this is the case for you.

But there are parents who noticed that school is doing more harm than good to their child, so they have taken him/her out. Depending on where you live this might even be illegal, but in most places, it's not. You can find other ways for your child to learn and grow. Check e.g. unschooling.com as a starting point.


I'd start off with a few basic reminders.

Be kind to yourself, this is a normal thing that many parents experience.

You cannot directly control her actions; you can only control your own.

Some children don't start school until they are 7-years-old, there's time.

The solution I'd suggest is to start objectively reviewing situations where conflict usually occurs (even where it does not) and any time you feel a need to raise your voice. Once you have a baseline you can look at different techniques and check how consistently you are applying them. If you are invoking the support of family counsellor/psychiatric support this will be a useful body of evidence not just for her behaviour but for you to track that you are implementing any suggestions they give.

Try to briefly note:-

  • What was the situation 10 minutes before you started the activity? What were you both doing?
  • Was there a consequence or reward for completing the task?
  • When you began the task/situation, how did she react?
  • When did she start rebelling against it?
  • What was the response of relevant adults including you?
  • How did you both feel as a consequence of that?

Do this immediately after the situation or as soon as possible and you don't need to write essays, just a few simple one-liners with a score for both your and her energy levels at each point, and also get your partner to do the same thing if they get into the same situation.

When you have a few weeks worth of just doing what you normally do then look back over them. Look for common factors - does the problem always happen at the same point,

Looking at the homework example - As I see it, the intent of this homework exercise is for her to show that she can measure something and can record her findings. So can break down this task to see that she:-

  • comprehends the task
  • has a clear outcome
  • can complete the task for herself
  • refused to copy an answer you have supplied

So now you need to consider - Could she write it herself? Could she tell you what to write if you had not written it for her? Would she recognise if you wrote the answer incorrectly?

Now reflect - What was your response to her behaviour? Wow did you react when she did the right thing vs. when she refused? Was your response proportionate to the situation? Was it actually a big deal that she didn't write it for herself?

Looking at entering and leaving school, there are a few issues here, it looks like the change of environments is partly an issue. Again this is a great application for journaling and reflection. You can then look at the situation in a balanced way when you have more information.

Start 10 mins or more before you leave home or before her behaviour changes - what is everyone doing, what are the energy levels, does she start off keen to go to school and then change, does she not want to go at all?

This is purely anecdotal so take this for what you paid for it - I work alongside some students diagnosed with ADHD and a number of them are similar in that you can't get them in, then once settled they don't like to change tasks/locations and they don't want to go home again. ADHD also presents very differently in girls so it's worth at least mentioning when you deal with the counsellors/psychologists though much of the accommodations that need to be made will be by caregivers/teachers identifying and mitigating triggers.

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