Nov. 21, 2022

Ask Amy: My Kid Asks for Help - and Then Gets Mad at Me

Does your kid ask for your help with homework, then snarl at you? Does your kid procrastinate and then panic, blaming you while he spirals? Is there a middle ground between letting a kid like this fail, or continuing the fight about doing the work?

When our kids get overwhelmed with homework and tests and schedule-making, it can be pretty clear they need our help. Sometimes they come right out and ask for assistance– only to then angrily insist every suggestion we make is the dumbest thing ever. How can we support our stressed kids without being trash cans for all their frustration and bad feelings?

A member of our Facebook group says:

My family moved last spring to a new school district with higher standards than our previous one. Our teen is really having a hard time understanding how to manage his time. I know he has all the tools and support to be successful, so the only thing holding him back is his own effort/attitude. He procrastinates and bargains his way into doing the least possible effort and then when I check in with him to review or to help plan his assignments he snarls at me.

He is in this cycle of not wanting to do the work or the task in the moment, and then getting pissed later that he essentially set himself up to struggle. We let him make his own study plans for the first six weeks with us just supporting his choices where we could, but that resulted in poor grades. Then we would force him to let us help him study, and he would be much more successful. He just fights the help.

So I have 2 options: A- say “fine, go ahead and do it your way and fail your classes” which will result in many consequences I fear that he is not mature enough to think about, or B- keep taking the abuse and fighting him, knowing that it’s the only way he will stay on track which is definitely not the healthiest means to an end. 

It's a tough situation a parent to be in, and hard not to become triggered by it. Amy says it's important to remember that our kids are struggling with two different things– their workloads, and their anxieties– and that their frustrations are about those things, not about how annoying Mom is. No matter what they might say.

Books Amy mentions in the episode:


SMART BUT SCATTERED TEENS by Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, and Colin Guare

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