L: James, you mentioned accountability. Creating a culture of accountability. What does that mean? Can you explain that and how, what it means to parents and kids.
J: First of all, when we start with accountability, one of the things that I talk to teachers and parents about is creating a culture of accountability. And that culture of accountability occurs between two people. So when we talk about what’s on TV, what they’re learning in the movies, what their video games is, that, that’s fine. But the culture of accountability comes with, this is how I’m gonna talk to you and this is how you have to talk to me. This is what I’m gonna expect of you and this is what you can expect of me. That’s very clearly learned out. That you’re accountable for the way you talk to me and treat me. You’re accountable for your responsibilities and you can expect me to take responsibility to be accountable for my responsibilities. I’m gonna pay the rent, I’m gonna have food on the table, I’m gonna make sure that we have a place to live. You have to talk to me appropriately, you have to do your schoolwork and you have to learn how to solve life’s problems without hurting other people.
MG: I think it’s important to note James that a culture of accountability isn’t just a parent child thing. We even as adults need to be accountable; we are accountable every day to someone.
J: That’s right, well, I don’t think people are accountable to a culture. I think that that develops between people. Between individual people and groups. So even personal relationships and work relationships.
J: Work. I’m accountable to that job. I’m accountable to my role in that business. I’m accountable to that business. They’re gonna pay me, that’s what I expect of them, they expect me to do the role that they defined for me. They also expect me to do it with some quality and some efficiency.
MG: So as a parent, what you’re setting your child up for by expecting him to be accountable to you is the whole mindset that you will always be accountable to someone. This is a coping skill. This is a problem solving skill you have to learn.
J: Absolutely. Look, when you hold your child accountable, when you develop that culture of accountability, you as a parent have a responsibility to teach that child to acquire the skills he’s gonna need to be able to be accountable. People who can’t be accountable for their homework disrespect other people. People who can’t be accountable for their behavior turn it around and challenge you and act out. So when you’re having a culture of accountability, there’s a two–way thing. I expect you to do the right thing and you can expect me to teach you how to do the right thing.
MG: So my job as a parent then is to set specific standards, to set specific goals, to set attainable landmarks that a child can say, if I do this, I become accountable. If I do this, I’m behaving responsibly.
J: Yeah, it’s not only setting goals. It’s giving the skills to reach the goal. So let’s say I’m a parent and my goal is that you’re gonna sink five throws from the free throw line in basketball out of ten. Well I just can’t put you up there with a ball and tell you do it, that’s my goal. I’ve gotta show you how to do it. I’ve gotta show you how you place your feet, how you place your arms. How you propel the ball. I’ve gotta spend some time practicing with you. I’ve gotta show you how to do these things and I’ve gotta practice them. So it’s not setting the goals, it’s giving the kid the skills. Acquiring the skills yourself for an understanding of what it takes. Using the tools and using the skills.
James Lehman had a very personal understanding of kids with behavior problems. He displayed severe oppositional, defiant behaviors as a child and teenager, and became a Behavioral Therapist specializing in helping troubled children, teens and their families for 30 years.
Janet Lehman, MSW Child Behavior Therapist
Janet Lehman has over three decades of clinical experience working with out–of–control children and teens and their parents. Working in group homes and residential treatment centers, Janet helped children with serious behavioral disorders learn to get their behavior under control.
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Are you trapped in a nightly homework struggle with your child? The list of excuses can seem endless: “I don’t have any homework today.” “My teacher never looks at my homework anyway.” “That assignment was optional.” “I did it at school.” If only your child could be that creative with their actual homework, getting good grades would be no problem!
Pre-teens and teens often insist they have no homework even when they do, or tell parents that they’ve completed their assignments at school when they haven’t. If your child’s grades are acceptable and you receive positive reports from their teachers, congratulations – your child is doing just fine. James Lehman advises that students who are doing well have earned the privilege of doing their homework whenever and however they see fit. But if their grades reflect missing assignments, or your child’s teachers tell you that they’re falling behind, you need to institute some new homework practices in your household. For those classes in which your child is doing poorly, they lose the privilege of doing homework in an unstructured way. For the classes they are doing well in, they can continue to do that homework on their own.
Trying to convince your child that grades are important can be a losing battle. You can’t make your child take school as seriously as you do; the truth is, they don’t typically think that way. Remember, as James says, it’s not that they aren’t motivated, it’s that they’re motivated to do what they want to do. In order to get your child to do their homework, you have to focus on their behavior, not their motivation. So instead of giving them a lecture, focus on their behavior and their homework skills. Let them know that completing homework and getting passing grades are not optional.
If you’re facing the rest of the school year with dread and irritation, you’re not alone. By following the tips below, you can improve your child’s homework skills and reduce your frustration!
5 Strategies to Get Homework Back On Track
Schedule Daily Homework Time
If your child often says they have no homework but their grades are poor, they may not be telling you accurate information, they may have completely tuned out their teacher’s instructions, or need to improve some other organizations skills, for example. The Total Transformation Program recommends that whether your child has homework or not, create a mandatoryhomework time each school day for those classes in which you child is doing poorly.
Use the “10-Minute Rule" formulated by the National PTA and the National Education Association, which recommends that kids should be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. In other words, 10 minutes for first-graders, 20 for second-graders and so forth.
It will be most effective if you choose the same time every day. For example, you might schedule homework time for the classes that your child is doing poorly in to begin at 4:00 p.m. every school day. If your child says they have no homework in those subjects, then they can spend that time reading ahead in their textbooks, making up missed work, working on extra credit projects, or studying for tests. If they say “I forgot my books at school,” have them read a book related to one of their subjects. By making study time a priority, you will sidestep all those excuses and claims of “no homework today.” If your child has to spend a few days doing “busy work” during the daily homework time, you may even find that they bring home more actual assignments!
Use a Public Space
It’s important to monitor your child’s homework time. For families where both parents work, you may need to schedule it in the evening. In many instances it may be more productive to have your child do their homework in a public space. That means the living room or the kitchen, or some place equally public where you can easily check in on them. Let them know they can ask for help if they need it, but allow them to do their own work. If your child would like to do his or her homework in their room, let them know that they can earn that privilege back when they have pulled up the grades in the subjects in which they are doing poorly.
Use Daily Incentives
Let your child know that they will have access to privileges when they have completed their homework. For example, you might say, “Once you’ve completed your homework time, you are free to use your electronics or see your friends.” Be clear with your child about the consequences for refusing to study, or for putting their work off until later. According to James Lehman, consequences should be short term, and should fit the “crime.” You might say, “If you choose not to study during the scheduled time, you will lose your electronics for the night. Tomorrow, you’ll get another chance to use them.” The next day, your child gets to try again – observing her homework time and earning her privileges. Don’t take away privileges for more than a day, as your child will have no incentive to do better the next time.
Work towards Something Bigger
Remember, kids don’t place as much importance on schoolwork as you do. As you focus on their behavior, not their motivation, you should begin to see some improvement in their homework skills. You can use your child’s motivation to your advantage if they have something they’d like to earn. For example, if your child would like to get his driver’s permit, you might encourage him to earn that privilege by showing you he can complete his homework appropriately. You might say, “In order to feel comfortable letting you drive, I need to see that you can follow rules, even when you don’t agree with them. When you can show me that you can complete your homework appropriately, I’d be happy to sit down and talk with you about getting your permit.” If your child starts complaining about the homework rule, you can say, “I know you want to get that driver’s permit. You need to show me you can follow a simple rule before I’ll even talk to you about it. Get going on that homework.” By doing this, you sidestep all the arguments around both the homework and the permit.
Skills + Practice = Success
Tying homework compliance with your child’s desires isn’t about having your child jump through hoops in order to get something they want. It’s not even about making them take something seriously, when they don’t see it that way. It’s about helping your child learn the skills they need to live life successfully. All of us need to learn how to complete things we don’t want to do. We all have occasions where we have to follow a rule, even when we disagree with it. When you create mandatory, daily homework time, you help your child practice these skills. When you tie that homework time to daily, practical incentives, you encourage your child to succeed.
If you are a Total Transformation customer, you can access our Support Line for help with these and other challenges you’re experiencing with your child. Support Line specialists have helped hundreds of parents customize homework plans, and we can help you, too. Specialists can also work with you to formulate realistic, appropriate consequences to help enforce the daily routine.
Megan Devine is a licensed clinical therapist, a former Parental Support Line Advisor, a speaker, and writer. She is also the bonus-parent to a successfully launched young man. You can find more of her work at www.refugeingrief.com, where she advocates for new ways to live with grief.
While I agree that this is the best course of action it doesn't work for all children. It all sounds fine in theory. However there are some children who will sit down & stare at the cieling in a defiant manner to prove their point. First hand experiance shows my son gave up a racing career and didn't get his drivers license until he was out on his own at 18.
Comment By : Pormi
I have instituted a one hour study session with my son every night. At 15 he is failing all his classes because he refuses to do the work. If he does not do the one hour of work he gives up his cell phone until the next study session has been completed (I just call our provider and have it turned off to avoid the fight to get it from him). I email his teachers and counselors every week to know what work needs to be done and his teachers now email me on a more frequent basis to let me know when there is a test, etc. so I can have him study. This is working for us right now. I guess we are lucky he values his cell phone as much as he does and that his teachers are so receptive. Unfortunately, he still sleeps in class and refuses to engage in class work. I guess one step at a time......
Comment By : deb
I have a different problem. My older daughter (11) will stretch out homework assignments for the entire evening. I suspect she's trying to get out of playing with her younger sister and/or any chores she'd be asked to do around the house. She's a straight A student and I know school is easy for her, so I don't understand what's taking her so long to complete her assignments?
Comment By : NJ Mom
I like the ideas listed. It's hard with 2 working parents, and we don't necessarily get home at 5 or 6 every night. There are some nights we don't get home til 8pm. We are in very close contact with our boys' teachers (one boy is ADD and the other has Aspergers and ADHD). We're trying to figure a reward and consequence system.
Comment By : G
I agree with the above comments. My 8 year old, fully capable of doing the work, but streches it out throughout the whole night. When he finally does sit and do it, it gets done so quickly, I tell him"was that so hard?" I just dont understand WHY they make it such a battle. I sometimes think it is a power struggle. I have taken everything away. I stop "talking" and let him learn by his choices.
Comment By : KarenS
I used to take FOREVER to do my homework! I was also an excellent student. I just got distracted, let my mind wander, listened to the TV in the next room, etc. If I had dishes that night, I did them, but otherwise, there wasn't anything I HAD to do, so I didn't understand why it bugged my parents so much that I took a long time to do my homework. My taking a long time wasn't keeping them from anything, nor was it a way for me to avoid other responsibilities, so I saw no reason to hurry. If her dawdling isn't disrupting the household, is it really a problem?
Comment By : Jan in AZ
i just went through this with my 6th grader, saying homework done in study hall.i found out he wasn't doing it. he failed tests, just hated homework. this sunday i removed everything from his room,i left books bed, dresser. i locked everything up and told him if he brings his failing grades up to B average by christmas holidays, he would get them back. no tv no computer except for homework. i did all this in a matter of fact manner. no yelling. he's taking it rather well.but we'll see when dec comes.
Comment By : ohno
Jan, in answer to your question, yes it is a problem if children stretch out their homework. If the child gets good grades and can easily show you (do some problems quickly and easily) that they understand the subjects, then they should have some leniency to work in an unstructured way. But this doesn't mean that they should be allowed to stretch their homework out over the course of the night. Unfortunately in the US, quality family time is under attack on many fronts. Something that can be seen as beneficial, is actually robbing family of one of the activities that would help combat some of the behavioral problems their children are facing. Imagine your tween or teen is under constant barrage and pressure from other kids to conform, act out, disrupt, etc. When they get home (their haven from that) instead of being able to enjoy an encouraging time with their family, they are holed up in their room with a textbook. When necessary, they have to do it, but only when NECESSARY. If it happens every night, you effectively can go an entire week without having any real interaction or bonding with your own child! Instead of the reassurance from parents and siblings that they are valued, unique, and worth treasuring, they get the world's influence that they are worthless unless they match up to whatever is the current fad on TV. Second reason you don't want to do it is because of the lesson it teaches. Imagine you were an employer who gave an employee a simple job to do. Afterward, that employee takes his time and finishes just before you come back to check on him. Yes, they did do what you asked, but no one would describe that employee as having initiative, hard-working, diligent or proactive. Is that the kind of worker you want to train your child to be? Probably not.
Comment By : Blacklion
Just in time. We finished teacher-parents conference yesterday, and learned that my 5th grader got 15/15 on his science test, the only student in his class who got a 100%, but did not finish any assignment. So he got low score on his report card.
He is find with his daily homework, it is those assign for a week, and won't due until Friday or next Monday, he wants to wait until last minute to do it, but then forgot about it......
Comment By : DD
* Dear NJ Mom: You bring up a great point. If your child dawdles over homework time, be sure to give a specific "end time" for it to be completed. For example, if you feel your child is capable of completing her homework in 2 hours, tell her: "You have from 4 to 6 to complete your homework. When it's done, you can have access to your computer or the phone. If it's not done by 6, you will lose a privilege (either for that evening, or the following day, depending on the schedule of events in your household.) Remember, keep your consequences short-term, and focused on the behavior you’d like to see change.
Comment By : Megan Devine, Parental Support Line Advisor
I can see this working in a two parent home, even if both parents work. I'm a single mom, work 12 hour shifts, at night. My son doesn't done homework since 3rd grade, I think. Do I have the time to monitor him sitting at a desk at 4 pm? Sure, if I don't want to sleep before I go to work. Some of these things just don't work for REALLY defiant kids and single, working moms.
Comment By : Tired Single Working Mom
hi ohio, i certainly can relate to your frustration about being surprised with all failing grades. and i agree that action is necessary. yet i think you should consider the consequences and the ability to achieve a goal. i have done exactly what you have done, but it was when my son was using and dealing drugs and not responding to other consequences. with such an extreme consequence, what do you have left for more serious issues? also is it mathematically and reasonably possible for him to get all his grades up in the time period outlined? with my drug dealing son i gave back items slowly as they were earned, not all at the end, i think he needed the ongoing positive feedback. also the mandatory hour homework time eventually worked with him too. just something to think about
Comment By : thinking
I'm going to try this. Just had our ILP meeting with our 13 yr old adhd son's teachers. Found out he's failing reading simply because he has a daily reading log thats to be filled out & signed by us. Its worth almost 30 points a week. We knew nothing about it. I ask him every nite if he has homework & usually he doesn't, so he says. We will find out at parent teacher conference next week.
Comment By : 56kris
Any suggestions when there is a joint custody situation and the dad won't enforce any rules at all? It's almost impossible to get grades up when homework is only done half of the time.
Comment By : FishersINmom
* Dear FishersINmom: I have talked to many parents on the Parental Support Line who have the same problem that you describe. The good news is, even if your child doesn’t do homework at his father’s, you can still require that good homework skills happen in your home. You could also talk with your child about coming up with a plan to keep his grades up – for example: “I can’t make you do homework at your father’s, but you are expected to keep your grades up to at least a "B" average. You’ll do homework here, but what else can you do to keep your grades up?” Or, you might set a rule that the week’s homework needs to be completed by Friday evening, and your child will need to figure out how to accomplish that if he isn’t going to do it when he is at his father’s. Co-parenting can often be challenging. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
Comment By : Megan Devine, Parental Support Line Advisor
My 16 year old son insists on doing all his homework at school the day it is due (in other classes, at lunch etc.) He hands it in 1/2 the time. I think friends are doing it for him or he might be coping it from them. I have made it clear that he must do the homework at home Mon thru Thurs in order to go out on Friday. He still does not comply and he leaves without permission on Friday night to go out. Help
Comment By : Karen
The advice given in this article is very sound! I am a single mother with two young children. I do not have problems with them doing their homework, but I started creating good study habits when they were very young. There is absolutely NO tv watching in my house during the weekdays, so there is nothing to distract them from their homework. I work late and hard, and it takes a significant sacrifice on my part. I work all day while they are at school, dedicate my full attention to them from 5-9pm for homework and family time, then I start working again until about midnight, sometimes later. Homework is not easy for kids are parents, but YOU as a parent must set the example of sacrifice. So yes, "Tired Single Working Mom"...you may have to miss your nap before you go to work. If you institute good study habits and rules when your children are young, you will not have as many probelms when they are older. Trying to institute rules when they are half-way out the door of your house...yes, they can afford to defy you for a couple years!
Comment By : Holding it Down as a Single Mom
My son just refuses to do the work at home or school. He says he doesn't care about the consequesnces please help.
Comment By : Denise
My 15 yr old teen (boy) has bad grades, roller coaster attitude, no friends, and no motivation. He could care less about money, tv, everything. I am at a loss of what to do next to movitate him. Just to give him one goal. There is no bribbing him.
Comment By : jellybean_mi08
This is for the NJ Mom who complains her daughter is an A student and stretches out her homework time. You are blessed, you are envied. She needs that peaceful time, she should not have to entertain her sister or do mandatory chores weeknights, that can be accomplished on the weekend. Consider yourself fortunate and give your daughter a break. You can only surmise she is stretching out her homework assignments and it very well may be she needs that extra time to "retain" her assignments.
Comment By : Susan from Seattle
Rewarding our kids with what they want, but is meaningless,-like computer games, cell phones,...- only makes them lazier. when they get rewarded with laziness, it only makes it harder for the children to get out of this state. instead, reward with something that is productive, like sports or hobbies, to get the kids out of their boredom. the kids don't want to do their homework, not only because it's hard, but there will be nothing to do afterward except be idle. rewards that are conducive promote are great treats and promote a good, long-lasting work ethic.
Comment By : educating mom
My 11 yr old girl will spend hours on homework... HOURS.. and then not hand it in! she is failing 6th grade and i am getting little help from the teachers. They are "making her responsible"... but this approach is leading her to fail for the year. I have taken everything away from her with the rewards given for each week she hands in her homework.... but yet.. she still will not hand it in. The teachers view me as though i am not giving her the homework attention she needs to complete the homework.. what they are not realizing is that she is completing the homework.. she's just not handing it in. How do you get through to a child... who thinks she knows everything??
Comment By : the mom who knows nothing
My daughter is always told not to watch TV during weekdays. I really don't like to spank her but she refuses to follow the rule, especially if I am out and cannot see what she does at home. I always tell her to study but she just refuses to follow and starts to lie about studying. Finally, after so many warnings and reminders, I was not able to control myself and she got a good amount of spanking. I want to ask how did my spanking may affect her? Will she finally learn her lesson and follow what she is instructed to do?
Comment By : Marj
* Dear Marj:
You ask a really good question. Many people wonder whether spanking is an effective discipline technique. We do not recommend spanking and find it does not help kids learn the lesson we hoped they would learn. Parents can get pushed to a point where they get furious, lose control, and start spanking. The intention at that point is to punish by inflicting pain, fear, or shock and experience a momentary release of our feelings of anger. But those angry feelings are usually replaced by other negative feelings, such as guilt and remorse. Kids feel both emotional and physical pain when they’re spanked. This type of punishment does have a negative effect on kids, as does seeing the angry expressions on an ‘out of control’ parent’s face. A child wants to be able to depend on us being in charge and staying strong when they’re not. Seeing your parent out of control affects their feelings of trust and safety. And remember, the goal of discipline is to teach our kids how to control themselves. We can’t ‘teach’ control when we’re ‘out of control’ ourselves. Resolve to stop spanking.When you don’t have this as an option, you will very likely force yourself to take a ‘time out’ to calm down before disciplining your child. And for those who use spanking under emotionally ‘controlled’ circumstances, it’s still not recommended to use physical pain as a discipline tool. Spanking kids is a confusing message when paired with asking our kids to solve their problems without being physically aggressive.
Comment By : Carole Banks, MSW, Parental Support Line Advisor
we live in India and both of us are working. We have two sons one is 14 and the other is 9.We both leave the house at 7 am and get back by 7.30 to 8.00 pm. which hardly gives us any time except for weekends. Hence we are looking for tips as to how to ensure that the Kids who get back from school by 3 pm make use of their time properly without us being there to supervise their homework. We are just not able to motivate them. pls help. & the Total transformation program is not available in India and when Dollars are converted in Indian Rs it is a very expensive proposistion.
Comment By : ws
* Dear ws:
It sounds like your work schedule has presented some parenting challenges for you. It’s very difficult to make certain your children do their homework if you are not there to supervise them. You can’t make them do their homework, but you can motivate them to do it and hold them accountable for doing it. The best way to do this is to make your expectations of them very clear and restrict their use of electronics while you are not home. Check their homework once you get home and when the homework is done, they may have their free time on the electronics for the evening. For more helpful tips on getting kids to complete homework, please refer to this article: Homework Hell? Part II: 7 Real Techniques That Work.
Comment By : Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
My kid goes to a "High Achievers Academy" where they believe in Homework, Projects and lots of it. But while I am constantly reminding (yelling) my kid to get it done, she is not focusing on it and is destracted or she "can't do it". The homework is utilized to back up what they are leaning and their is so much pressure to do it, but it's only worth 5% of the grade. Classwork is most important there. All classes fine with exception of one and those grades are slipping. The pressure is great at her school but a regular school just doesn't provide any real challenge and there we had "friend" issues. We just can't seem to find the right fit. I think I am going to lighten up on the reminding (yelling. Our relationship is suffering and our afternoons are toooo long!
Comment By : needatransformation
My son is 11. Since kindergarten he has claimed to never like school. He did well in kindergarten for the most part, but I have always had problems with him remembering to brings things home. I feel he has no motivation and takes no pride in accomplishing anything. These things came natural to me when I was a child. I wanted to please my teacher and my parents. I took great pride in knowing all of the things I knew and learning easily. My youngest son is the same way. I have tried everything with my oldest. Yelling, angging, talking, ADD testing at his teachers requests, groundings, spankings (which I hate and do not believe in), rewards, schedules...nothing works long term. My son has been getting a steady D average all year. We are now in the last semester and he has brought two of his F's up to B's and the other two F's remain. I feel like I am drowning. I do not know what to do. I cry, worry, and stress and he seems oblivious to it all. I told him today I was washing my hands of it. That I cannot work full-time at making sure he is doing what he should be doing and all the things I have been telling/helping him with all year. That both his teachers and I are working our butts off to help him to succeed and the only one not working as hard as he should be is him. I do not know if it was right or wrong. I know I am doing a disservice to him by reminding him all the time of the responsibilities that he should be doing, but throwing my hands up in the air and leaving it all up to him is scary as well. If he really needed to stay in 5th grade and not move up then I would gladly allow it, but I KNOW he can do it. For some reason he just doesn't want to. He says grades are not important it is what he knows and learns that is the most important thing...I counter back, "if you really know what you think you know your grades would reflect it".........I see some great ideas here and I am willing to try all of them again. In the meantime, do I let him fail on his own completely, even though it may mean getting left behind?
Comment By : EmmaP.
* To EmmaP.: I can hear how distraught you are by your son’s performance in school this year. It really does sound like you have been doing most of the work here. It’s important to keep some things in mind. First, your son is his own person. He is not you, and he is not his brother. As James Lehman said, “You have to parent the child you have—not the child you wish you had.” It is not helpful to compare him to someone else. Second, your son has made some great improvements here- let’s not overlook them. To bring two course grades from F’s to B’s within one semester was probably no easy feat. Relish in this success. Let your son know how proud you are that he was able to do that. And then talk about what he did in those two classes that he could apply in the other two. What worked for him? What did he do differently? You do not have to wash your hands of this completely, but it is important to find some middle ground between letting go completely and doing too much for him. Set up a daily study time for him. He can come home, take a short break, and then he needs to study for the two classes he is failing. Once he studies for an hour, then he earns his free time on his privileges for the evening. If he didn’t bring his materials home, or doesn’t have anything to study, you and he can work together to find something related that he can do. I am including a couple articles you might find of interest. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this. The Homework Battle: How to Get Children to Do Homework Throwing It All Away: When Good Kids Make Bad Choices
Comment By : Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
Sara, Thank you for the reply. I didn't think I was going to make it another week the night I wrote the previous submission. I want to make sure you know (because it makes me feel better, lol)-that though I compare my son to me and my youngest here, I never do that to him. I know I have to allow him to be who he is. But, I wanted to be honest here about where some of my frustration comes from. And I did, totally, give him big "props" for the great grades he did earn. You can probably tell from my submission, I have some control issues. I work hard on dealing with them and so this yearly struggle has been a learning experience for both of us. I have made some clear mistakes, but I always improve (not as quickly as I wish) and since reading all the help you have provided here, I implemented it the very next day (for both boys) and it has worked miracles in my house. I do not know how long it will last, but I am happy for now & more importantly, my son is happy & not stressed out because I am stressed or stressing him. It means the world to me. I thank you so much for providing this resource. I have searched and searched for help and this is the first place I've found where I do not feel alone in this struggle and feel like I have been given some real tools that I could see would possibly work. I have tried all of these things on some level at one time or another, but never all at once and I am excited to see if it will continue to work for us! I love you!
Comment By : EmmaP.
* EmmaP.: Thank you for the update. It’s not very often that we get to hear how things turn out for our readers. We are so pleased that you have seen some success with James Lehman’s Total Transformation tools—your feedback is extremely valuable and put a smile on my face when I read it! All of our readers are very important to us and we are glad to gain another in you. Please check back with Empowering Parents often as you continue on the rollercoaster we call parenting. We wish you the best.
Comment By : Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
I have a 15 y/o boy. Last year Our son had lower and lower grades through the year. by spring he had lost all privledges and use of electronic devices. I was told by my son straight out he "was not going to do any of the assignments and that we couldn't force him to." Meeting with the guidance counselor and questioning his teachers all came to the same consensus.. He is capable of the work ( when he takes tests in class an school wide tests he passes and usually with high marks) he just refuses to do class work or homework assignments and projects. Meeting with an outside counselor it was sugguested to return everything that was taken away. So we did.. Now it is a new year he is in 10th grade and the same behavior continues (which I am not suprised mind you).. While he is not failing all of his classes.. most have poor grades because once again he takes the tests in class but refuses to do homework and classwork.. When questioned he states he has already finished homework and assignments or doesn't have any. He has no "currency" as the counselor called it. His things were taken away for months and he did not appear to care. I asked him what the best way for me to help him was and he replied, "just let me do it myself don't bother me about it." So here we are .. I said nothing about his grades last 6 weeks and grades this 6 weeks are about the same. He flat out told me the reason he doesn't do his work is because he does not want to and because I am so cocerned about them (his grades). So, what do I do.. If I continue to pest him and demand or try to bribe him to do his work, he will not just to spite me. If I do nothing as was sugg. to me nothing changes, nothing is happening to help change his behaviour. I feel I am stuck between a rock and hard place I was told by more than one teacher of his last year that, when he finally decides to care or have a direction in his sights things will turn around.. I am afraid waiting may be to late.. As his decisions now have great consequences in the near future, especially if he wants to attend college.
Comment By : 67mustang
* To '67mustang': It sounds like you’re in a frustrating spot with your son! On one hand if you take everything away and pester him about it, the homework doesn’t get done; on the other if you do nothing, the homework doesn’t get done either. We recommend taking a middle road here. As suggested in the article, it can be very effective to set up a daily homework time for your son, and tie in a daily privilege to following through on this. During his homework time, he can study, do make up work, or work on a project if he “doesn’t have homework”. If he participates in the homework time, then he can earn electronics for the rest of that day; if not, he doesn’t earn that privilege that day, and gets another chance to try again tomorrow. You also get the benefit of not having to demand that he does his homework, or figure out a way to try to “force him to” do it. You simply hold him accountable for his choice of whether to do his homework that day or not. I am attaching an article you might find helpful: Homework Survival for Parents. Good luck to you and your son as you continue to work through this.
Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor
I have a 14 year old daughter who is flunking 9th grade and i told her teachers that im upset with the school system because we have a no child left behind law which is no matter how bad you do in school they will pass you and they did exactly that i wanted her to be held back in 8th grade but they wouldnt do it because of the law they have.but this year she is flunking and i think its because she thinks that they will pass her no matter what so just doesnt do the homework and she is a very defiant child and basically runs the rules without me letting her but it is sooooo chaotic in my home with her im pulling my hair out please help
desperate for help
Comment By : desperate for help
* To ‘desperate for help’: Many parents have felt frustrated by the No Child Left Behind Act. It’s so hard to see your daughter in a situation which you feel does not meet her needs but that you and the school have little to no control over. Law is law after all. What you can control is how you hold your daughter accountable at home for doing her work. You can set up a daily homework structure that requires your daughter to do homework or related activities such as studying, reading, or making note cards for a designated period of time each day after school. Until she has spent some time working in a designated place, she does not get access to her privileges such as cell phone, computer, T.V., or hanging out with friends. Here is an article for more information and suggestions: Unmotivated Child? 6 Ways to Get Your Child Going. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.
Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
We have used all of these suggestions for a year now and our teen really dosn't seem to care. It comes off as a test, like she thinks she can make us break from enforcing the consequences of her not doing her homework. What makes it worse is that she does most of her homework but just forgets to turn it in and then loses it. Basic rule of the house is that if you have missing work, you lose TV until it is turned in. We don't even specifiy that it has to be a good grade because we know she is bright and when she does turn it in she gets good grades. It doesn't seem to be working. She missed out on a dance becasue of missing work (and admitted that she thought we would give in becasue we had already bought her a dress).
Comment By : Ike2325
I am a 13 year old and in 8th grade and I find that the rule '10 minutes of homework per grade level' is not true. I do not need 80 minutes to do my homework. I finish my homework in about 30-45 minutes and get perfect grades. I hope that my parents will never force me to do more work than i have to. I refuse to read textbooks. I mean seriously? You want to get kids interested in getting good grades have them feel compelled to do their homework assignments, if only to get that little feeling of satisfaction when you get an A. That's what keeps me working hard. I feel that forcing your child to do unnecessary homework will not make them want to do their regular homework.
Comment By : Fran
WOW who are you kidding? what do you do when they wont do it no matter what? Bribery consequences etc.. this does not cover all kids.... my daughter will just not do homework and take off with friends every day on weekend.. she plays sports that is not a inncentive .... really what you suggest is common sense what if it is not a normal teen who doesnt care about consequences? I pay for private school and have her entire school years.. It hurts when a parent gives their all and a child has no cares about anything.
Comment By : hurt mom
* To hurt mom: It is incredibly frustrating when a child appears not to care about anything you could give as a consequence. It’s actually pretty normal for teens to state “I don’t care” when given a consequence, because if it seems like they don’t care, then they don’t have to risk appearing vulnerable or powerless in the face of your parental authority. James Lehman reminds us that in order to be effective, consequences don’t have to be severe, only consistent. What is ultimately going to be the most effective for you is to tie one daily privilege (such as socializing with her friends) to completing her homework. If she does her homework, she gets the privilege; if she doesn’t, she gets a chance to try again the next day. Ultimately, it’s her decision about whether she does the homework or not. If she doesn’t, then the school will hold her accountable by giving her a poor grade, or perhaps not allowing her to participate in sports. Although it’s painful to watch as a parent, sometimes those natural consequences are the best teachers. I am including links to a few articles I think you might find useful as you continue to work on this; take care. Kids Who Ignore Consequences: 10 Ways to Make Them Stick Why You Should Let Your Child Fail The Benefits of Natural Consequences
Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor
Son is 17 and failed every class first quarter other than gym. For the assignments he DOES turn it, probably averages B's and C's. The problem is he continually sabotages himself by not turning in several assignments. So he basically loses 20-40% of available points. He is supposed to graduate this year but in danger of not happening. Threats don't work, rewards don't work. He would be happy to play video games, watch TV and mess around on the computer all waking hours. No school activities and little social interaction other than on-line gaming, which is not available to him quite often because of his issues. This is so frustrating and makes you feel like you are failing as a parent.
Comment By : Curt
The way I see it, the problem is in the schooling. When I was growing up, some of the absolute dumbest people I have ever met I had straight As, and some of the much more intelligent ones were failing. It made no sense to me, until I realized that some students simply can't work in a crowded impersonal environment. I was failing in public school, so my junior year, I switched to independent study and got perfect straight As. Some students really are lazy, but in other cases, maybe your child is having trouble in the public school environment, and perhaps you should speak with them about some other options. Very few people actually WANT to fail, its more likely that they're struggling. Even if they understand the material. Please consider it before you punish them and allow them to fail out of high school, when there may be a much more suitable and beneficial solution.
Comment By : LW
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