Thursday, August 19, 2010

Making A Little Boy Cry While Doing Homework.......Just As My Father Did To Me

I have an 8 year old little boy.  A third grader.
About 30 minutes ago I went through his folder and checked his homework he saw me did what he feared that I would do - thoroughly inspect the work that he figured was in his past.

First I drilled him on his spelling words.  I noticed that the teacher did not correct him on his misspelling of the month of "Agusust".

I proceeded to drill him on this and the other selected difficult words on the list.  As he made mistakes I told him "start over".  After constant repetition and him seeing that I was not giving up - he started to cry.

"What's wrong with you boy!!!  Why are you crying??"

"You're yelling at me"

"Would you rather have someone yell at you or hit you?"

"Yell at me"

"So all that I did was to hurt your feelings.  Right?


"Well if this is all that it takes to make you cry, boy, you aren't going to like being in high school".

Then I had a flash back.  I recall being assigned to my father to help me with my math homework when mom, our usual home tutor told my father "you need to help out more with your children's homework".   I recall being intimidated by my father at the time and starting to cry as I too realized that he was not going to give up and he was not going to do the work for me either.

I learned from past engagements in giving kindergarten reading lessons that my son basically imposes a test of wills.  He would rather that I get frustrated and give up so he can return to his normal - low intensity preference.  Sorry not this time.

After the crying stopped we got through the spelling review.  Then we had to do the math word problems.  I see that the challenge is in teaching this little boy how to think, organizing his thoughts as to what the question is asking so that he even has a chance of coming up with the right answer.

He says that he wants to become an engineer when he grows up.  I remind him that the primary task of an engineer is to be introduced to a problem and then figure out how to solve the problem and then solve it.   An engineer doesn't wait to be told what to do at each step.  "You want to be an engineer when you grow up, right?".

After I introduced him to the right approach to solve these problems the second half of our session was like night and day compared to the first.

I can just imagine how other "little Black boys" who don't have the reenforcement of a parent at home that stays on them and teaches them how to think will suffer years later as the aggregate damage of this benign neglect catches up with them.

The task of "breaking in" these little boys, discipling their minds to have them think along a certain track is a task that requires a lot of time and frustration to be invested.   This pales in comparison to the squandered life that is wasted, however, if this young male morphs into a "Street Pirate" and this actions against the community cause him to be locked away, warehoused in a prison.

I would gladly exchange his tears right now for the tears shed by his mother and me about 10 years from now as he goes astray..


Norah said...

Children need their own space so that they can explore their talent and creativity. We, the parents should always stand beside to help them learning different things. We should teach them different subjects in different innovative ways so that they love to learn them.
Parents, especially mother is the best teacher in a child’s life. The way, she can guide a child, no other can! However, sometimes, it becomes hard for the parents to help children doing homework. In that case, they can take advantage of online tutoring services like

Constructive Feedback said...

Agreed BUT!!!

When it comes to conditioning a child to:

* Answer a question in a timely manner
* Placing him upon a structured way of problem solving so he can get to the answer
* Making disciplined use of his time in general

there is no choice but to take away options that allow him to escape (don't what he would rather do) and instead focus on the task at hand.

I can only imagine a young child who's parent(s) fail to invest the time to make his mind attuned to a certain structured way of thinking.

If there was any consequence - this morning I shook his hand and said "Good Job On The Homework Yesterday. Now let's do without the tears next time". I teach him to look people in the eyes when he shakes their hand.

Anonymous said...

"Parents, especially mother is the best teacher in a child’s life."

No, especially father. It is hard for a mother to ignore a child's tears without giving in, comforting. A father is better at this, seeing the long-range goal instead of the immediate need to comfort and let things slide.

"I can only imagine a young child who's parent(s) fail to invest the time to make his mind attuned to a certain structured way of thinking."

This is a left-brain excercise and is crucial for any child's success; to be able to think logically. Jeremiah Wright may state that "Black children are right-brained learners" but in reality, a balanced mix is the best.

"However, sometimes, it becomes hard for the parents to help children doing homework. In that case, they can take advantage of online tutoring services like"

It should never become "hard" for parents to help children do homework. Online tutoring should only be used as a way to have them begin to be able to organize their own time to learn something, to develop their own motivation.


Constructive Feedback said...


I was going to challenge you to prove that Rev Wright had said this but, shamefully, I found out that claim was true.

This is nothing more than projecting "inferiority" upon Black people in order to couch certain issues about our failure to mold our children into "directed outcomes".

If the concept of race in the human is merely a consequence of "mating decisions" then we should see increased "left brain" activity out of mixed race Black kids for no other reason they their parents come from "left" and 'right" brained people.

This sounds to me like an ugly stereotype given legs by an insider and thus not called out as racist.

Anonymous said...


I don't think the Reverend is entirely wrong ... I don't think "race" per se makes someone a "right" or "left" brain learner ... I think it is moreso culture. I think a given culture can be more right- or left-brained oriented. I think cultures evolve and develop because of environment, like our phenotypes.

Gender may make a difference on how a person processes (right or left brained) ... I haven't read enough to come to a conclusion, but ... supposedly male and female brains process differently because of biological factors. My cousin (who is a woman and a math teacher for over 30 years) said ... the boys seem to grasp the concepts of math quicker, but the girls do just as well as the boys after they grasp the concepts but are slower to do so. Again, the evolving and development of the male and female brain took different paths because of necessity, to best accommodate the survival of the species.

I don't believe anything is set in stone ... in our country, traditional roles of male and female are changing. New cultural groups and norms are being formed in new environments to meet the new needs for success. Humans continue to evolve and change. I only hope the direction we take is for the better and the values we embrace will make us stronger, because to a great extent, we control our evolution.

I found an interesting article written in 1976 in Canadian Family Physician regarding a professor's observation that ... he thought as a society we were shifting from a left-brain culture to a right-brained culture in one generation ...


Constructive Feedback said...


If when you are saying "race" you are saying the "cultural/social" constructs and demands placed upon our group per the attributes of our physical form - then I agree.

THEN, however, I will call for a reform in the "Black Racial Culture" so that the end results are brought more in line with our present needs.

Do you see my point? Some people prefer to point out these differences as a means of obtaining forbearance for Blacks, staving over criticism.

I prefer to accept these notions, make note of how they fit the present demands and then request reform in the messages that are sent to us.

Anonymous said...

Do you see my point?

I do.


Anonymous said...

Your goal should never be to make your child cry. Good luck with his therapist bills latter in life. You need to learn some empathy. Understand that it comes harder to him then it does to you. My dad would yell at me, and make me cry while I was trying to do my homework, and now I pretty much have a panic attack every time I try and do my homework.

Anonymous said...

Constructive Feedback said...


My goal was to have my son with a roving attention span to remove all distractions from his consciousness and focus upon the work that is in front of him.

Fast forward to last week.
A vocabulary test that I was made aware of the morning of (spelling and definition).

YES I verbally disciplined him for failing to prepare adequately and for watching too much television.

Then - with 1 hour in the morning to prepare him I got past the frustration and taught him a valuable LEARNING TOOL.

Instead of studying from the sheet that had the words and the definitions at hand to review.

I took away the sheet and gave him an index card.

1) He had to write the word that I vocalized to him to get the spelling correct

2) He had to recite the definition.

3) I crossed out the words that he mastered and underlined the definitions that he got wrong

4) I had to drive him to school because he missed the bus because of his high intensity studying

5) He was made to write the definitions to the words that he was struggling with.

He got an 88% on the test that HE WOULD HAVE FAILED if I did not intervene with a MORE SOUND STUDY METHOD.

My job is to set priorities and limits.
To teach my children better methods than what their young, inexperienced minds lead them to otherwise.

With my stubborn son - CRYING is the necessary residue of the FATHER/SON struggle for power that is inevitable.

When we play together we play hard.
When it is time to be THE AUTHORITY - he knows when to yield to my authority or be reminded to do so.

The key point that you should be concerned about is who do I TAKE MY AUTHORITY FROM.

(When my wife does not beat me physically then typically it is my own life experiences from my parents and also my Christian ethic)

@giftofsobriety said...

He may grow up an knock your block off. I was afraid of my dad because of this type of false pride terrorizing . Then I turned 14 and showed him how I really felt . Good luck to you hopefully he doesn't have to much testosterone in him. Future antisocial . You really telling me you can't find a better way to administer basic behavior changed without terror? Your own conscience posted this . There may be hope fore you.