Homework Help: Using Behavior Styles to Navigate Homework

October 2, 2017

We have loads of personal stories to share about the behavior styles and their relationship to homework – many of them dredging up distant (but painful) memories of our own past struggles. Fast forward a few years and we are now going through the process again, this time as parents trying to help the children in our lives.

Homework is and always will be a bear.  I haven’t spoken with a parent (or child) ever, who has touted  the joys of homework.  While there are some kids who are wired to just get on with it; there are others who would rather chase squirrels than have to sit through the torment of an extension of their school day.  Regardless, the question is  how do we as parents do the best we can to support our children without creating a ‘warlike’ atmosphere at the mere mention of ‘homework’.

So, here goes…our best attempt at homework advice based on how your child is wired.


Let’s just say brace yourself!  You may literally have to tackle your Lion child to the ground to have them sit still for more than a nano-second.  Your Lion child has spent six plus hours of their day at school; most of which has been spent in the classroom having to remain seated – having to pay attention, to listen, and focus –  all of which are energy drainers for these types.  So the thought of having to come home and do more of the same may result in any number of reactions: from tears, to tantrums, to diversions and avoidant behaviors.

Here are five things you can do to help a LION when it comes to homework:

  1. Disregard your own need for them do their homework immediately – recognizing instead that they need time to unleash the energy that’s built up during the day.  Things like running around the block; having them do some baking; or engaging them in an activity that they love.  Give them an outlet and they will improve their focus.
  2. Let them do their homework in a manner that works for them – some Lions just cannot sit down, they need to stand; others to lie on the floor. Allow them the freedom to make that choice; it will help keep them motivated.
  3. If your Lion child struggles to focus on reading an assigned book; consider downloading it on Audible and having them listen and read at the same time. This provides a different medium for them to learn and can be more engaging.
  4. Challenge them. We are big supporters of “how many minutes will it take you to get your math done tonight versus last night”…”Bet you can’t get all your spelling words correct by 7pm this evening”.  Lions love a challenge and will most likely rise to the occassion.
  5. Praise them for their efforts. A Lion will repeat a great performance if it earned them some attention the first time around.


When your Panda sits down to do homework, there is a point where you will start to feel the angst radiating from their core.  Sometimes this will be a deafening silence,  and on other occasions it will be guttural grunting and groaning. You ask repeatedly  ‘whats going on’, ‘what can  I do to help’, ‘whats upsetting you’ etc.  Most frequently you will be met with the venomous response…’I’m fine’.  Every parental instinct in you wants to either 1. take your child in your arms and reassure them it will all be okay or 2. wring their neck. Note – neither will work on your Panda child.

Here are five things you can do to help a PANDA when it comes to homework:

  1. Understand that the biggest frustration for a Panda child is not being able to solve a problem, as this has them question their own competency.  When you try to tell a Panda child ‘I’m sure there are others struggling with the same problem’ or ‘don’t do it and ask your teacher tomorrow’, this will most likely elicit increased frustration. They want to solve it…now!
  2. Acknowledge that you can see they’re frustrated.  Let them know that you’re there to brainstorm with them – (if its not your preferred expertise, suggest someone who you can call in to support them).
  3. Suggest they take a brain break.  Pandas can be their own worst enemy and will dig themselves into a stubborn hole rather than help themselves out. They might need to shift focus for a short while in order to come back and attack the homework/problem from another angle.
  4. Give them uninterrupted time to focus on their homework – provide a quiet space away from activity and noise.
  5. Give them the opportunity to teach you something. It will help them retain information and provide a way for you to connect with them after school.


The motivation for Dolphins to complete homework is two fold. 1. the desire to please – maintaining relationships with the people they care about (parents, teachers etc.) and 2. their relationship to the subject – whether they are genuinely interested or not. Dolphins are motivated by energy. If the work they are doing energizes them and they love it, they will do it; if not they will avoid.  Helping your Dolphin child recognize the parts of their homework that they enjoy is the first step.

Here are five things you can do to help your DOLPHIN when it comes to homework:

  1. Connect with your Dolphin when they come in the door from their day. Even if you’re still at work, make the time to call.  Ask them what their homework assignments are for the evening and what they need from you. Even the ‘difficult’ tasks become easier if your Dolphin doesn’t feel alone in having to do it by themselves.
  2. Know that your Dolphin most likely will want to do their homework in the company of other people.  We might think they’ll have a hard time multi-tasking when there is activity around them; but they will be more productive when they feel like they’re in the middle of the energy.
  3. Be curious about their work; ask them what they’re learning; let them talk to you about it, even when its not a subject you enjoy.
  4. Empathize with the difficulties they might be having getting something done.  As hard as it is, be sure to filter out any judgment. Dolphins will pick up on this and it can impact their productivity.
  5. Speaking of productivity, a Dolphins ability to get their homework done will depend on how their day has been.  If they’ve had a tough day, they will not be able to focus until they’ve unburdened themselves with any hardship they experienced.  Make sure you tap into their emotional state before quizzing them about homework.


Thank goodness for our Owl friends.  Dedicated and committed, they will be responsible for their homework no matter what the cost (both a blessing and a curse)!  Your Owl will come home from school and want to get down to business immediately; and if they have extra curricular activities as well they will need to figure out how to get it all done – sometimes at the expense of their physical and mental well being.

Here are five things you can do to help your OWL when it comes to homework.

  1. Encourage them to take a break when they get home from school versus getting straight down to work.  They sometimes need a reminder to do this. They need the mental break
  2. Talk to them about what they have on their plate. Is it manageable, is there anything that is feeling overwhelming? Is there anything you can do to help?  Owl’s appreciate the support and encouragement.
  3. Be there if they need to put a plan together to get through their homework. Often times when overwhelm sets in, an Owl struggles to break down what needs to be done first.
  4. Encourage them to meditate in a way that works for them: exercise, reading a book, taking a walk – whatever allows them to disconnect. They are most likely to suffer from physical symptoms from stress as they hold themselves highly accountable for meeting deadlines and expectations.
  5. Engage with your Owl on future planning – what is happening for the week/month in terms of projects/extra curricular activities. Help them figure out a plan for getting it all done so they’re not feeling overwhelmed or out of control.  This is particularly important for Owl Teens when it comes to exam time – helping them put a study plan together can be a big stress reliever.

Want to know more about the creatures that live in your home? Take the assessment here (for tweens & teens) and here (for your little people).