By Dr. Jan Hittelman

Q: My son is 9 years old. He is quite competitive, yet shy and sensitive in many ways. He gets angry when I help him with his homework or correct his mistakes. I fear he is not getting a good education because of this “dance” we do around trying to help him vs. trying not to upset him or make him feel as if we are criticizing him on his mistakes. So, any advice how to handle this?
Elementary Mom

A: Homework battles are more common than you may think. It is important to realize that the family conflicts that result from this may be more costly than the benefits. Consider empowering your son by discussing these challenges with him at a more positive moment (not in the heat of the homework battle). Let him know that you want to support him with his work and that you’re interested in hearing what he thinks would be more effective than what you’re doing now. For example, offering your help only when he asks for it. Try to find some room for compromise and agree to re-evaluate the situation together after a week or so of trying out the new system. I often encourage parents to make this shift before middle school. This is the right time to help your child become more independent and responsible for his schoolwork. Otherwise these battles will likely increase.