My son rushes through schoolwork

My very bright seven-year-old son is always in a hurry to finish his homework -- often at the expense of correct answers. His teacher calls him impulsive and says he always wants to finish first. Is there anything I can do to get him to slow down and take pride in his work?

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Robert Schwebel

Clinical psychologist Robert Schwebel, PhD, has been in private practice for almost 30 years, counseling children, couples and... Read more

Plenty of children this age have little understanding of the importance of schoolwork. They are more interested in playing and having fun. Your son might rush through his work to be first (which might mean that he is competitive) or to play (which would make him like most other children), neither of which means he is impulsive. Impulsivity implies lack of control. For your child to be impulsive, he would have to show "can't resist" or "can't wait" behavior in other situations as well, above and beyond what is normal for his age.

You can help your child take pride in his schoolwork by letting him know that you value education. Show an interest in what he is learning in school and monitor his progress. Discuss day-to-day classroom activities and help him with special assignments and projects. You should also show your child that you, as an adult, are always learning too.

You can also help your child work a little harder, and in more disciplined ways, by helping him stay organized and focused. Set aside a quiet study area for him and make sure he does his homework a regular time, preferably right after he gets home and has a snack. Explain to your son that homework is important because it helps him learn. Tell him to work carefully and offer to help if he needs assistance. When he completes his homework, review it with him. If it is done well, then tell him that he is free to play. If not, then ask him to make the needed corrections and bring it to you again for approval. Be sure to encourage your child's efforts and hard work. If you only praise perfection, children begin to feel pressured and will resist doing their work. The goal is to inspire and motivate your child, and make school a joyful, learning experience.

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