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Why Is My Child Crying During Homework?

January 6, 2023
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    School and academic issues can be a challenging part of parenting. Kids with ADHD are more apt to face various school-related challenges at any grade level. These can include but aren't limited to a higher prevalence of learning disabilities, overwhelm, trouble starting homework or maintaining focus on homework, and more.

    It isn't uncommon for kids to dislike homework, but what if your child cries during homework? In this article, we'll discuss tips to try when a child cries over homework, reasons why kids might cry over homework, and how Joon can help.

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    Things To Try When Your Child Cries Over Homework 

    When parents see their kids tearful or angry during homework time, it's not easy. However, although changes to a child's workload or homework assignments might be viable if you discuss it with school staff, homework is unavoidable to some degree for most kids. Parents can use a range of tactics to make homework time easier. Here are some tips to try.

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    Give them space

    Give children space when they cry so they can let it out and reach a calmer state. Rather than leave children alone to cry without context, talk with them first and say, "It's okay to rest. We'll get back to your homework after." 

    Once your child is ready to talk, listen to what they have to say. Your child may give you insight into why they don't want to do homework or feel upset during homework, which could help you find a long-term solution in some cases. 

    Even if you can't throw the homework out the window, you can teach children that their emotions matter and that you can help them approach homework differently using the other strategies below.

    Have a homework-time plan

    Routines help children get into the habit of completing homework, chores, and other tasks. Create a homework routine so your child knows exactly what time of day they need to do their homework. Explain the schedule you create for your child clearly.

    Let your child take breaks

    When you create your child's routine for homework time, add regular breaks. Frequent, short breaks where kids have time to get up and move (even if just for a few minutes) are ideal.

    Kids with ADHD, especially those with primarily hyperactive/impulsive symptoms or combined type ADHD, might feel calmer after they're unseated for a little bit. Movement and breaks can aid focus and help kids feel less frustrated.

    Try body doubling

    Many people find body doubling valuable, especially with ADHD. If you're able to sit with your child during homework time, it can help them stay on-task. When you're next to your child during the homework process, it also gives you an opportunity to notice patterns. When do they start crying? What do they say when it happens?

    Teach self-motivation

    Motivation generally falls into two categories: Intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic means "internal," and extrinsic means "external."

    If kids don't like school and don't see an immediate reward in doing homework, they might not feel internally motivated. External rewards like experiences (time to play outside when homework is complete, screen time, etc.), sticker charts, and small toys or objects can help.

    Remind kids that once they're done with homework, it's all over for the night. It won’t last forever. While school is important, putting in effort at the right time means that homework will be out of the way. Many kids can learn to self-motivate from that perspective. 

    Empower kids with problem-solving skills

    Help children problem-solve when they run into a problem during the homework process. For example, let's say that a child is overwhelmed by a large school assignment. They have 20 questions to answer, and it feels impossible.

    A parent can help their child problem-solve by showing them how to break the assignment down into smaller pieces. Think of it this way: If your goal is to clean the house and you decide to tackle one room at a time, it's less daunting than it would be to try to clean the whole house at once with no plan.

    Additionally, let your child know they can always ask for help. Communicate that school is about learning, and they're not expected to be perfect or know the answer already. They're only expected to try and act honestly. Kids shouldn't worry if they don't know the answer or need more support. 

    Create a positive learning environment at home

    When your child's doing homework, what else is going on in the home? What does the environment look like? Look out for potential distractions, like television or video games playing in the background. 

    Not only do kids with ADHD get distracted more readily than other kids, but if they hear or see something going on in the home that's more fun, they might feel left out and get upset.

    Try to make homework time a soothing, positive experience. Stim toys, white noise (which can aid concentration, unlike louder or less "even" noises like the television), or turning lessons into a game can all be helpful.

    Note: If your child's struggling with homework, try Joon. Joon is a to-do app for children with ADHD that doubles as a game. It encourages motivation, self-esteem, and task completion. With over 3.6k reviews, Joon is rated an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars in the App Store. 

    Click here to try Joon for free.

    Communicate with their teachers

    As a parent, it's essential to have an open line of communication with your child's teacher. Tell their teacher what's going on during homework time and discuss how you can work together to address it. Ask the teacher what they recommend. Schools may be able to extend options your family will find helpful both for homework time and general academic success.

    A 504 plan, which can provide various accommodations including differences in school assignments, can be valuable for some kids with ADHD.

    Find out why

    Find out why your child struggles with homework if possible. Every child will have a different battle or reason. However, discovering the underlying cause allows parents to address the problem directly.

    What Causes Crying Over Homework Assignments?

    Finding out why a child cries over homework will be a unique process for every child and parent. While reasons vary, there are some common triggers for kids who cry over homework. For one kid, it could be as simple as boredom, in which case, making homework assignments more fun or stimulating can help. Another child might be tired after school, which affects their mood. While it's not an extensive list, other kids might face causes such as:

    Specific learning challenges

    Some kids have trouble with school or homework assignments as a whole. Others might find trouble primarily with specific subjects. If a child struggles with math facts, for example, they might cry over a math worksheet. The same child might be okay with art or reading.

    Some children find a particular subject more difficult without a learning disability. For others, diagnosable learning disabilities make at least some parts of school substantially harder.

    If you notice signs of learning disabilities like dyscalculia, dyslexia, or dysgraphia, speak with a medical provider or school staff. 

    ADHD symptoms

    Trouble paying attention, urges to move around, difficulty engaging in activities quietly, and other ADHD symptoms can all make homework more difficult. Most of us don't like to do things that we find frustrating. If ADHD symptoms make homework frustrating for a child, it makes sense that they react emotionally.

    Strategies we discussed, like turning homework into a game, letting a child know that homework will take a small chunk of their time and they don't have to think of it for the rest of the night once it's done, creating a routine, and adding breaks can all help.

    Anxiety and stress

    Some kids experience anxiety or stress surrounding homework. Homework anxiety may show up in kids who struggle with perfectionism and similar challenges. Again, teach kids that homework is an opportunity to practice and that the point of school is to learn - not to be perfect or know it all already! 


    It is tough to see kids cry over homework. However, it's possible for parents to help their kids with homework skills. Understanding why your child cries over homework can be helpful. Kids might feel overwhelmed by the material, worry about getting the right answers, get distracted, or something else. Parents can use a number of strategies to help their children, such as creating a realistic routine, taking a short break, giving a child space when they're upset, and talking with a child's teacher to troubleshoot.

    How Joon Can Help

    Joon can help kids complete homework assignments and a range of other tasks. Parents sign up first and create a customized task list for their child. When children finish their tasks, also called quests, they get rewards that allow them to take care of a virtual pet.

    90% of children who use Joon complete all of the tasks parents assign. Even better, the app is backed by teachers, child psychologists, and occupational therapists.

    Click here to download the app.


    Sarah Schulze MSN, APRN, CPNP

    Sarah is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with a specialty certification in pediatric mental health. She works at a clinic in Champaign Illinois, providing care to children and adolescents with mental health disorders. She obtained her bachelor's in nursing from Indiana State University in 2011 and completed her master's in nursing from University of Illinois at Chicago in 2014. She is passionate about helping children create a solid foundation on which they can grow into healthy adults.


    Sarah Schulze MSN, APRN, CPNP

    Sarah is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with a specialty certification in pediatric mental health. She works at a clinic in Champaign Illinois, providing care to children and adolescents with mental health disorders. She obtained her bachelor's in nursing from Indiana State University in 2011 and completed her master's in nursing from University of Illinois at Chicago in 2014. She is passionate about helping children create a solid foundation on which they can grow into healthy adults.