“My Child Refuses to Do Homework” — How to Stop the Nightly Struggle Over School Work

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For many parents, getting their kids to do their homework is a nightly struggle. Some kids refuse to do their homework. Others claim that they don’t have homework, but then the report card comes out and you realize that their work was not being done.

So why is homework time so difficult? In my opinion, one of the major reasons is that it’s hard for kids to focus at home. Look at it this way: when your child is in school, he’s in a classroom where there aren’t a lot of distractions. The learning is structured and organized, and all the students are focusing on the same thing.

But when your child comes home, his brain clicks over to “free time” mode. In his mind, home is a place to relax, have a snack, listen to music, and play video games. Kids simply don’t view the home as the place to do schoolwork.

If the homework struggles you experience are part of a larger pattern of acting out behavior, then the child is resisting to get power over you. He intends to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, and homework just becomes another battlefield. And, as on any other battlefield, parents can use tactics that succeed or tactics that fail.

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Regardless of why your child won’t do his homework, know that fighting over it is a losing proposition for both of you. You will end up frustrated, angry, and exhausted, and your child will have found yet another way to push your buttons. And, even worse, he will wind up hating school and hating learning.

A major part of getting your child to do her homework lies in establishing a system so that your child comes to see that homework is just a regular part of home life. Once they accept that, you’ve already won half the battle. Accordingly, my first few tips are around setting up this system. If you get the system right, things tend to fall into place.

Put this system in place with your child at a time when things are calm and going well rather than during the heat of an argument. Tell your child that you’re going to try something different starting next week with homework that will make it go better for everyone. Then explain the system.

You’ll find that this system will make your life easier as a parent, will make you more effective as a parent, and will help your child to get the work done. And when your child gets her work done, she’s more likely to succeed and nothing drives motivation more than success.

Structure the Evening for Homework

When your kids come home, there should be a structure and a schedule set up each night. I recommend that you write this up and post it on the refrigerator or in some central location in the house. Kids need to know that there is a time to eat, a time to do homework, and also that there is free time. And remember, free time starts after homework is done.

Homework time should be a quiet time in your whole house. Siblings shouldn’t be in the next room watching TV or playing video games. The whole idea is to eliminate distractions. The message to your child is, “You’re not going to do anything anyway, so you might as well do your homework.”

Even if your child doesn’t have homework some nights, homework time should still mean no phone and no electronics. Instead, your child can read a book or a magazine in their room or work on longer-term assignments. Consistently adhering to the homework time structure is important to instill the homework habit.

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Start the Evening Homework Habit When Your Kids are Young

If your children are younger and they don’t get homework yet, set aside quiet time each evening where your child can read or do some kind of learning. Doing so will help children understand that evening quiet and study time is a part of everyday home life, just like chores. This habit will pay off when the real homework begins.

Use a Public Place for Homework

For a lot of kids, sending them to their rooms to do their homework is a mistake. Many children need your presence to stay focused and disciplined. And they need to be away from the stuff in their rooms that can distract them.

You know your child best. If you think he’s not being productive in his room then insist he works at the kitchen table or in some other room where you can monitor him and where there will be fewer distractions.

If they do homework in their room, the door to the room should be open, and you should check in from time to time. No text messaging, no fooling around. Take the phone and laptop away and eliminate electronics from the room during study time. In short, you want to get rid of all the temptations and distractions.

Give Breaks During Homework Time

Many kids get tired halfway through homework time, and that’s when they start acting up. If your child is doing an hour of homework, have him take a 5-minute break every half-hour so that he can get up, have a snack, and stretch his legs. But don’t allow electronics during the break—electronics are just too distracting.

Monitor the break and ensure that your child gets back to work promptly.

Be sure to encourage your child when he’s discouraged. It’s okay to say things like:

“I know it’s a drag, but think of this—when you get your work done, the rest of the night is yours.”

Or:

“Look, if you do your work all week, you’ll have the whole weekend to do what you want.”

Show your child empathy—how many of us truly enjoyed homework every night? It’s work, pure and simple. But your child will be encouraged when he begins to have success with his work.

Help Your Child Get Started With Her Homework

Some kids have a hard time getting assignments started. They may be overwhelmed or unsure where to begin. Or the work may seem too difficult.

There’s a concept I explain in The Total Transformation® child behavior program called hurdle help. If you have a child who has a hard time getting started, spend the first five minutes with them to get them over the first couple of hurdles. Perhaps help them with the first math problem or make sure they understand the assignment.

For many kids who are slow starters, hurdle help is very effective. This doesn’t mean you are doing their homework for them—this is simply extra help designed to get them going on their own.

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Help Your Child Manage Long-Term Assignments

If your child has a big, long-term project then you want to work with them to estimate how much time it’s going to take. Then your child has to work within that time frame. So if your child has a science project, help her manage and structure her time. For instance, if her project is due in 30 days, ask her:

“How much time are you going to spend on it each night?”

She might say, “15 minutes a night,” and you hold her to that.

Don’t assume that your child knows how to manage her time effectively. As adults, we sometimes take for granted the habits we have spent a lifetime developing and forget that our kids are not there yet.

Make Sunday Night a School Night

The way that I structure the weekend is that Sunday night is a school night, not Friday. So if your child has homework for the weekend, and as long as he’s done all his work for the past week, he gets Friday and Saturday night off and he can do his homework on Sunday night.

If there’s a project or something big to do over the weekend, then you work out with your child how to budget his time. He may have to put some time in on Saturday or Sunday during the day. But other than that, your child should have the weekend off too, just like adults do.

The Weekend Doesn’t Begin Until Overdue Assignments Are Done

If your child has overdue homework, their weekend shouldn’t begin until those assignments are done. In other words, Friday night is a homework night if their week’s work is not complete.

Believe me, this is a highly effective consequence for kids because it creates a great incentive to get their work done. Indeed, each minute they’re doing homework is a minute they could be hanging out with friends or playing video games.

If you can hold to this rule once and deal with the complaining then next week the homework will be done.

By the way, if they say they can’t do their homework because they didn’t bring their school books home, they should be grounded for the weekend. You can say:

“I don’t want to hear that you can’t do it because you don’t have your books. You’d better call around and find a friend who you can borrow them from. Otherwise, you’ll be staying in this weekend.”

Make Homework a Higher Priority Than Activities

Kids are involved in a lot of after school activities these days. I understand that. But my priority has always been “homework comes first.”

In my opinion, if the homework isn’t done on Monday, then your child shouldn’t go to football on Tuesday. It’s fine if he misses a practice or two. You can say:

“Here’s the deal. We’re not going to football today. You need to get your work done first.”

If your child says, “Well, if I miss a practice I’m going to get thrown off the team,” You can say:

“Well then make sure your work is complete. Otherwise, you’re not going to practice. That’s all there is to it.”

I personally don’t put football, soccer, or any other extracurricular activities above homework and home responsibilities. I don’t believe parents should be going from soccer to karate to basketball with their kids while homework and school responsibilities are being neglected.

Use Rewards for Schoolwork, Not Bribes

Most kids get personal satisfaction out of getting good grades and completing their work, and that’s what we’re aiming for. Nevertheless, it’s important to reinforce positive behavior, and that may mean offering an incentive for getting good grades. For instance, my son knew that if he got all B’s or above, he would get a certain reward for his performance. The reward was an incentive to do well.

One of the shortcuts we take as parents is to bribe our kids rather than rewarding them for performance. It can be a subtle difference. A reward is something that is given after an achievement. A bribe is something you give your child after negotiating with him over something that is already a responsibility.

If you bribe your child to do his homework or to do anything else that is an expected responsibility then your child will come to expect something extra just for behaving appropriately. Bribes undermine your parental authority as kids learn that they can get things from you by threatening bad behavior. Bribes put your child in charge of you.

The appropriate parental response to not meeting a responsibility is a consequence, not a bribe. A bribe says, “If you do your homework, I will extend your curfew by an hour.” In contrast, a consequence says, “If you don’t do your homework, you’re grounded until it’s finished.” Never bribe your kids to do what they’re expected to do.

Use Effective Consequences

When giving consequences, be sure they’re effective consequences. What makes an effective consequence? An effective consequence motivates your child to good behavior. They put you back in control and teach your child how to problem-solve, giving your child the skills needed to be successful.

An effective consequence looks like this:

“If you fall below a B average then you can no longer study in your room and must study at the kitchen table until you get your average back to a B.”

For the child who prefers to study in his room, this is an effective consequence.

Another effective consequence would be the following:

“If you choose not to study during the schedule time, you will lose your electronics for the night. Tomorrow, you’ll get another chance to use them.”

And the next day, your child gets to try again to earn the privilege of electronics. Short-term consequences like this are very effective. Just don’t take away this privilege for more than a day as your child will have no incentive to do better the next time.

For more on consequences, read the article on how to give effective consequences to your child.

Be Prepared to Let Your Child Fail

Failure should be an option and sometimes you just have to let your child fail. Parents often do their kids a disservice when they shield them from the consequences of their actions. If your child chooses not to study enough and she gets a failing grade, that’s the natural consequence for her behavior. And she should experience the discomfort that results from her behavior.

Let me be clear. If you interfere and try to get your child’s teacher to change her grade, your child will learn the wrong lesson. Your child will learn that if she screws up enough, Mom and Dad will take care of her. And she doesn’t learn her math or science or whatever it is she failed.

To be sure, failing is a hard lesson, but it’s the right lesson when your child fails. And it’s not the end of the world. In fact, for many kids, it’s what turns them around.

Don’t Fight with Your Child Over Homework

Don’t get sucked into arguments with your child about homework. Make it very clear that if they don’t do their homework, then the next part of their night does not begin. Keep discussions simple. Say to your child:

“Right now is homework time. The sooner you get it done, the sooner you can have free time.”

Say this in a supportive way with a smile on your face. Again, it’s important not to get sucked into fights with your child. Remember, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. If your child refuses to do his or her work, then calmly give the consequence that you established for not doing homework.

Also, trying to convince your child that grades are important is 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. In order to get your child to do homework, focus on their behavior, not their motivation. Rather than giving a lecture, just maintain the system that enables them to get their work done. Often, the motivation comes after the child has had a taste of success and this system sets them up for success.

Stay Calm When Helping Your Child with Her Homework

It’s important to be calm when helping your child with his homework. Don’t argue about the right answer for the math problem or the right way to do the geography quiz. If you get frustrated and start yelling and screaming at your child, this sets a negative tone and won’t help them get the work done. It’s better to walk away than it is to engage in an argument, even when you are just trying to be helpful.

For couples, it may be that one of you is more patient and acceptable to your child. Let that person take on the homework monitoring responsibilities. And don’t take it personally if it isn’t you.

Remember, if you can’t stay calm when helping your child, or if you find that your help is making the situation worse, then it’s better not to help at all. Find someone else or talk to the teacher about how your child can get the help she needs. And try not to blame your child for the frustration that you feel.

It’s Your Child’s Homework, Not Yours

Remember that your child is doing the homework as a school assignment. The teacher will ultimately be the judge of how good or bad, correct or incorrect the work is. You’re not responsible for the work itself, your job is to guide your child. You can always make suggestions, but ultimately it’s your child’s job to do his or her assignments. And it’s the teacher’s job to grade them.

Know the Teachers and the Assignments

Build good relationships with your child’s teachers. Meet with the teachers at the beginning of the school year and stay in touch as the year progresses. Your relationships with your child’s teachers will pay off if your child begins to have problems.

And if your child does have problems, then communicate with her teachers weekly. If she’s not handing in her work on time, ask her teachers to send you any assignments that she didn’t get done each week. Many schools have assignments available online, which is a big help for parents. Just don’t rely on your child to give you accurate information. Find out for yourself.

The bottom line is that you want to hold your child accountable for doing their work and you can only do that if you know what the work is. If you keep yourself informed then you won’t be surprised when report cards come out.

Work with your child on a system to keep track of assignments. I recommend an old-fashioned paper calendar simply because we already have too many distracting electronics in our lives. Experiment and use what works best for your child.

Finally, try to see your child’s teachers as your allies. In my experience, most teachers are dedicated and caring, but I realize that this isn’t always the case. So, for your child’s sake, do your best to find a way to work with his teachers.

If You Think Your Child Might Have a Learning Disability

Kids are expected to do some difficult work, and your child may struggle. If your child is having an especially hard time, talk with his teacher. Ask if it’s typical for your child to be struggling in this area.

In some cases, the teacher may recommend testing to see if your child has a learning disability. While this can be hard to hear as a parent, it’s important to find out so that you can make the necessary adjustments.

If it turns out that your child does have a learning disability, then you want to get an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) set up with the school.

Conclusion

Most kids don’t enjoy homework, and for some, it will always be a struggle. Our children all have different strengths and abilities, and while some may never be excellent students, they might be great workers, talented artists, or thoughtful builders.

I have to admit that dealing with my son’s homework was one of my least favorite experiences as a parent. It was overwhelming at times. Often, I just wasn’t equipped to offer the help he needed.

Our son struggled with a learning disability, which made the work feel unending at times. My husband James was much better at helping him, so he took on this responsibility. But even with this division of labor, we had to make adjustments to our schedules, our lives, and our expectations to make sure our son did his homework as expected.

Life would be easier if all children were self-motivated students who came home, sat down, and dug into their homework without being asked. This is hardly the case, though. Therefore, you need to set up a system that is right for your child, and it’s going to be easier for some kids than for others.

We’re trying to raise our kids to be responsible and accountable for their homework. And we’re trying to avoid fighting with them over it every night. When I had parents in my office, I would take these concepts and show them how they could make it work for their families in their own homes. The families I worked with were able to turn the nightly homework struggle around successfully time and time again.

About

Janet Lehman, MSW, has worked with troubled children and teens for over 30 years. A veteran social worker, she specializes in child behavior issues — ranging from anger management and oppositional defiance to more serious criminal behavior in teens. She is co-creator of The Total Transformation® Program, The Complete Guide To Consequences™, Getting Through To Your Child™, and Two Parents One Plan™.

Comments (23)
  • NanaRound2
    My 6 year old grandson has just taken 2 hours to write a list and write 3 sentences. He thinks if the words were shorter it wouldn't take so long. Already went through this with his dad. I celebrated more than he did when he graduated. Can't dragMore another kid through school. Losing my mind and like the previous comment have tried EVERYTHING.
  • __fringe_case__

    Yeah -been there, done that. Doesn't work. At least not for my child. I've read every *actual* parenting book out there ( You know, the books publishes by Harvard & Stanford professors who've been studying parenting and child psychology for the past 30 years?) ... and you're all missing something - because I've tried it all.

    My kid DGAF. This was almost painful to read. "oh, yup - tried that one. That one too. Oh, hey - I've tried that as well."

    This is so frustrating; tell me something I haven't already tried 50 times.

    • Psych Fan
      I'm with you my sophomore son DGAF . I tried so much stuff even set time stuff and he just doesn't go get his work out. He's 5'9 so I am 5'1 and I can't move him to do stuff . All he does is debate with me thatMore Grades really don't matter that he's like I'm just going to get D's because I'm not going to care to do better because I do not like school. He doesn't understand why I don't approve of D grades because I know he has better potential but he's like D grades I will pass and get my diploma .
  • A Desperate Mother

    The first thing on the list is to try and stay calm. While doing homework with my children I'm usually very calm. When I do get frustrated I'll leave the room for a moment, wash my face, and take a few deep breaths until I calm down. Or I'll make hot chocolate to help calm my nerves. It's not a perfect system, but what is?

    Number two is to set clear expectations around homework time and responsibilities. We have a standard homework time at our house, with a timer and everything. If our kids meet the homework time goal they'll be rewarded later in the evening with family time. Each of our kids know their roles and responsibilities in the house whether the work gets done before dinner or not.

    Number three is a relationship with the teachers, each of whom e-mail us, some two or three times a day. Contact with them has never been better. They're teachers are all pretty awesome too.

    Number Four, play the parental role most useful to your child...I have three kids. One needs no help at all, one needs minor help and advisement, while the third requires constant supervision or their e-mail might 'accidentally' open up. This we've provided through double teaming. One parent works with them until the other gets home, then they switch while the other goes to make dinner.

    Five, keep activities similar with all your kids. We all live on the same schedule, if one of them finishes homework early they get the reward of extra quiet reading time-my kids are ALL book worms.

    Six, Set up a structured time and place for homework. Done. Homework table with a supplies basket right in the middle of the room. Big enough for all of them to work at and then some, it's an octagonal table which my husband built. I also always have their 'homework snacks' waiting for them when they get home, and I usually try to make it healthy-even if they don't realize it.

    Seven, start early. My kids have been doing 'homework' with me since they were babies, and (as I pointed out to them yesterday) they loved it. We'd learn about cooking, dinosaurs, amphibians, insects, math, English, chemistry, even the periodic table came up. We'd do work pages every day and they'd love it.

    Eight, hurdle help, works in area's like math, but not so much with history or English when the problems aren't as straight forward. But we do use this method where it applies.

    Nine, choose the best person for the job. I'm best at English and my husband at math. When I get stuck on math I know who to go to, and I'll even study in my spare time to get better at it so I can be more useful in case he has to work late. That being said, we both devote a lot of our time to helping our kids with their homework.

    Ten, show empathy and support. Done, not only can I relate to my kids, but I've pointed out that not getting their work done will make them feel bad bad enough, and that that's why we should work on getting it done together, so they have something to be proud of.

    Use positive reinforcement and incentives. :) There was this one time I sat my son down at a table with a work book about 400 pages long. He was young, not even in school yet. Next to the book I placed a giant bag of M&Ms. I told him for every page he got done, he could have one m&m. About ten minutes later he finished the workbook and grinned up at me. When I found out he'd finished the book, I quickly checked it to see if it was done well, and then pushed the bag of M&M's towards him and told him he could just have it...Now they get rewarded in video games and computer time...

    It seems that according to this article I'm doing everything right...So why is my child still struggling with homework/classwork? They've literally just refused to do it. Have seriously just sat in their chair without saying a word and stared at the table, or desk, or screen- as the majority of work is now done on computers...I'll sit with them, ask them if they need help, try to help them with problems. They will tell me the right answer to the questions being asked and then refuse to write it down. I feel like I've done everything I can as a parent to help them, but despite all my efforts, it isn't working. So...when all of these things fail, when a parent has done everything right, and there is nothing more they can do short of taking the pen or pencil into their own hands and doing it themselves, (but that would be cheating their child out of an education) what then should the parents do?

    When our kids don't get their homework done before dinner, they're sent down the hall where it's quiet so they can finish it at the desk there, while the other kids have family time. They are told to come and get us if they really need help after that. But at this point it's like ostracizing our child for not doing homework.

    I agree with most of what's on this page, and our family lifestyle reflects that, but I will disagree with one thing it said. It is our job to help our kids and be supportive of them yes, to nurture them and help them get the skills they need to take care of themselves and their home when they're older...but it is not our job to do the teachers work for them, they get paid for that. Some days it seems like that's what's expected of parents. Some even send home classwork if the kids don't finish it in class. Which means the child now has even more work to do on top of their homework. Though I understand that the teachers want the child to finish the lesson, and were the homework not a factor I probably wouldn't mind it as much. I don't even mind them sending home study guides to help kids before tests (Which is what homework was originally) but to send home overwhelming piles of work each night for parents to help kids with, (Each child with different homework so that parents need to bounce from history, to math to English) it's unreasonable. When teachers send home homework, they're dictating what the parents can do with the little time they have with their child. Which is wrong. We once had to cancel a trip to a science museum because our child had too much homework to finish and there was no way to make it in time and get their homework done. They could have had an amazing educational experience which would overall help them get excited about learning with new and fun tactile experiences, but their schedule (and therefore our schedule) was being dictated by the teacher while they weren't even in class. Of course I try not to talk bad about homework in front of my children, because that would make it even more difficult to get them to do it. But children NEED family time, they NEED to be kids. To be allowed to get away from their work and be themselves, to go outside and play with their friends, or even go out to dinner once in a while with their parents. Homework has made it difficult to grow a relationship with our children beyond the confines of what the teachers are dictating. It's violating in some ways and frustrating in others. It's grown into this monstrous thing which it was never meant to become, and the funny part about it is that most studies done on it show that schools who don't have homework have higher test scores and graduation rates. Not to mention better mental health rates. Studies also show, that after a child is taught something, they'll only really learn it after a good nights sleep, and that no amount of homework will change that. Sleep is what our bodies need to absorb important information we learn throughout the day, so staying up late with homework might even be harmful to a child's education...

    Sorry I guess that turned into a bit of a rant...In the end I was hoping to find something useful in this article, something I hadn't tried that might work, but I've done it all, and will probably continue to do all of it in hopes that consistency might be the key...It's just that even after years of already doing All of this consistently, it's still not working. It's as if my child has made a conscious decision Not to work. He's not unintelligent, he understands it, he's even been tested and found to have an above average ability to learn. He just not doing it..So what now? What more can I do to actually inspire him to do the work?

  • Momof6kiddos
    Gonna have to agree. We do not need tips, tricks, and how-tos for getting our kids to fit traditional molds of sit-and-get schooling. Here's a scenario...homework is described as reinforcement and practice for concepts learned in the school day. Well if the kid has mastered the concept, homework is unnecessary.More If the kid has not mastered the concept then the homework becomes the parents job to re-teach the material. Either way it is fairly useless. Especially in elementary school where kids get one-size-fits-all worksheets. No wonder it's a battle! This whole website is about listening and empowering parents and treating kids like the small respected human beings that they are... Yet when it comes to homework the advice is more like "keep calm and carry on" without tackling the real issue of whether that tiny screaming human in front of you may have a legitimate gripe!!!!
  • wastedshores
    Hi there, I'm barb. I'm not an adult nor a parent, I'm in 8th grade. Just adding a tip: sometimes your child will be dealing with mental problems like depression and anxiety, as someone with both of these examples, Its really hard just getting by and living. Homework thenMore drains us way too much and alot of us try to do it, but it only results in breakdowns (drooling,crying.. etc.) If you feel your child may be struggling with mental health problems, try and talk to them, please. Homework is way too much exhaustion for us and digs us further into the hole we are already in. We simply cannot do this much work because of our issues.
    • JC
      Hi Barb, thank you for bringing this up! My son sounds a lot like you...and he really wants to get good grades and go to an Ivy League school. What could someone do to help an 8th grader in the moment of struggle, while making sure they don't get moreMore anxious from falling behind for the rest of the year?
    • Tb
      Hi Barb, I'm the parent of an 8th grader and I want to thank you for the comment you left here. You helped me look at the deeper issues and I really appreciate that. I'm going to approach the conversation with my son differently, thanks to you. ThankMore you!
  • Emma Reed

    My 11 year old daughter, Alice, has always helped her 7 year old sister, Chole, with homework. But just recently Alice has been giving Chole the wrong answers. We have been trying to get her to give Chole the correct answers

    but she always yells at us. She has a baby sister 2 months named Ray and ever since Ray was born she has been giving Chole wrong answers. I once overheard her and Kevin, my husband, talking about how she felt left out. She came and talked to me and said exactly what she had told Kevin. She also told me she has been getting bad grades and doesn't get her homework. Me and Alice talked and she said "All the cool New York girls get straight A's and ever since I started getting D's and F's they said I wasn't cool anymore." We started having her grandparents come over and she would yell, hit, scream, and talk back to them. She is a great student but she spends all of her time on her phone. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even at school she is on her phone. All I'm asking is that 1. How do I make her stop screaming, yelling, hitting, and back talking? 2. How do I make her feel cool and get A's again?and 3. How do I get her off her phone?

    • Marissa EP

      Emma Reed 

      It

      sounds like you have a number of concerns around your daughter’s behavior, and

      it certainly can feel overwhelming. We would suggest https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/its-never-too-late-7-ways-to-start-parenting-more-effectively/ and focusing on just one or two of the most serious, to get

      started. Behaviors like verbal or physical abuse would be of top priority,

      while behaviors like https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-walk-away-from-a-fight-with-your-child-why-its-harder-than-you-think/ we would recommend ignoring, and not giving it any power or control.

      Empowering Parents author Sara Bean offers some great insight into the reason

      for poor child behavior in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/.It sounds like your daughter is struggling to

      find more effective ways to solve the problems she is facing, and the result is

      the acting out behavior. Keep in mind, you can’t make your daughter do anything, but what you can do is help her to

      learn better tools to solve whatever problems may come her way. Best of luck to

      you and your family as you continue to work on this.

    • Emma Reed
      Alice also swears at school and she swears to teachers. Please we have tried everything, even her sister at age 18. What have we done wrong?
  • vayer101
    My grandaughter is 10 years old. She lives in a home with her mom, moms boyfriend and the boyfriends son who is 14. They seem to all get along well enough but recently my grandaughter has changed. She has always made exceptional grades and has excelled in math and scienceMore and is a fairly avid reader. For this school year she has started refusing to do her homework, refuses to clean and brush her hair and teeth and is becoming disrespectful to her mom. For the past year, her mom has suffered from major fibromyalgia pain and gets stressed to the breaking point.  I live too far away to help as much as I would like to and I would appreciate any advice I can get!!
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      @vayer101

      Being away from loved ones when they are struggling can be

      distressing. It may help to know that it’s not unusual to see changes in

      behavior as kids move from the tweens into adolescence, as Janet Lehman

      explains in the article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/adolescent-behavior-changes-is-your-child-embarrassed-by-you/. Normally responsible

      kids can start to push back against meeting expectations and disrespect towards

      parents and other authority figures can become quite common. The behavior you

      describe isn’t OK; it is normal though. I can hear how much you want to help

      your daughter and granddaughter

      work through these challenges. If your daughter is open to it, you could share

      some Empowering Parents articles with her, such as the one above and this one, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-childs-behavior-is-so-bad-where-do-i-begin-how-to-coach-your-child-forward/.

      We appreciate you writing in. Best of luck to you and your family moving

      forward. Take care.

  • mphyvr
    Thanks for all these "strategies", they might work for some parents, but quite simplistic and just plain old common sense for more defiant kids... Thanks anyways and hope this article helps many.
  • scott
    I have a teenaged son who simply won't do his homework regardless of the consequences.  He will be 7 credits behind halfway through his JR year.  He goes to a good school (for Florida) and has been shown how important education is but he just doesn't care...
    • Buttercuo
      I am in the same position mine will also swear and punch holes in the wall
      • Psych Fan
        I'm a mom of a sophomore he's also a swearing boy and will have quite a tantrum even with consequences of take away all he does is sleep. He doesn't like school says school is a waste of time and that grades won't matter in his adulthood . He saysMore it over n over about how schooling won't help him in the future as I go it will help you do good on a ACT and SAT he is like getting good scores on those are only good if your going to college. He also is like jobs won't look at my grades . I tell him homework teaches him responsibility once a job sees your amount of effort in school your going to have a heck of time getting hired. I even ask him how is he going to succeed to work real well at a job when he doesn't work hard at school he goes I don't need to work hard at school but I will need to work hard at a job.
  • dcastillo68
    If it was only this simple, but, in reality it is not.  Middle school syndrome is the worst.  Kids don't want to be labeled as nerds so they do everything to try to fail.  I went through that with my first born, and now again with my youngest.  It isMore very frustrating when I was the total opposite when I was growing up.  I cared about my grades an I took it for granted thinking they will feel the same way.  Now seeing how they are happy with just getting by is really frustrating to me because I am such an over achiever.  They didn't even get an ounce of this.  Very very frustrating.  And I wish I have never invited video games to this household.  That is all they want to do.  I keep using this an incentive to bring them back on track, but as soon as I give them their games back, they are back to their old habits.  Sorry, but I can't wait until they are finished with school and hopefully moving out of state to hopefully a college career.  I may change my mind later, but at the moment, this is just how I feel.  It is very hard too when you don't get any help.  I find today's teacher to be lazy and pushing on more responsibility to the parents.  Who has time to do a full day's of work, only to do additional work at home?  okay, enough venting.
  • RuthMcCann

    @frustrated single dad Diane Lewis Hi there - I have a son adopted out of foster care.  He is 6 1/2 and has been in 5 homes.  He is totally the same!  They learn this behavior and are incredibly manipulative.  They are so insanely smart.  I worry about exactly the same thing.  They turn on and off the behavior depending on who they are with and what they want.

    We did Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT) at the Mailman Center (Jackson Hospital Miami).  It made a huge difference in the short-term.  They basically taught us to be full-time behavioral therapists with my son.  The effects wore off after a few months as my son adapted and found ways to circumvent the consequences techniques taught to us.  He is like the Borg!  I am going back to get more ideas on how to adapt and change and stay one step ahead of my son.  The gals there are really smart!

    So, that being said - we have to be Jean Luc Picard and constantly change and adapt and outsmart them - just like changing the phasers on a laser gun!  It is bloody hard work.  And, harder the older they get -

    eg.  He drops like a dead weight - throws his book bag and will not get in the car to go to school - response - next morning I headed it off by calling out to the kids "LAST ONE IN THE CAR IS A ROTTEN EGG!"  This has worked for 2 days now.  

    Wont do homework 2 nights ago - response - "ooh I like doing word puzzles - Im going to do them and win" - this worked one night but not the next - he just then just left me to do his work - so I have told his teacher that there will be no school party for Alex next week unless he gets his homework finished - we will see if this works.....

    It is totally exhausting and you have to be on your A game all the time.  Im telling you this but - I have to tell myself this too.  We have to stay really fit (like cross fit) and work out like a marine.  We have to be very disciplined with ourselves - a healthy body is a healthy mind - we cannot let up at all.  We have to stay calm at all times (again self discipline).  

    Im always looking for concrete reactions to situations with my son.  Like I said - the entire day goes on like this with everything except what he wants to do.  Wont get dressed in the morning - put out his clothes in dining room where there are no distractions or toys - tell him that if he gets dressed and ready for school quickly - he can spend the left over time on the trampoline.  That worked this morning.

    STAY STRONG MY BROTHER IN ARMS!!!  If you can get into a PCIT program - do it.

    Love to you - R

  • My child comes home and says he doesn't have homework, does something easy to make it look like he's doing his homework, or says he did it during free time in class.  How do you combat this without going to the school everyday?  Neither my husband nor I can doMore this because of work, and the we asked the teacher's if it was possible to send us the assignments via email or let us come pick them up once a week with no cooperation.  He is a very smart kid and gets "A's' on the work he does, but he is failing all of his core classes because he won't do homework.

    • NinaMays

      @atmywitsend  , my child is the same way.  I'm at my wits end.  I feel like I'm a failure as a parent because I thought I taught my smart kid to succeed - and instead she's lying to me.

      • Psych Fan
        NinaMays I'm with the same feelings as my son can be above a C student but he choose to go oh I rather just get F's on this work than to actually get at least a B or A on these many assignments.. I ask him why he chooses F'sMore in many assignments when he could get a grade to bring his grades up and me telling me he's not being his full potential as by making him not do his work how can I truly believe he's going to be successful and he's like I have big brains . Then I'm like why not show me by doing your school work he goes I don't need do that and I show you of my big brains by telling you school isn't important. Telling me I am brainwashed. He is a sophomore in high school.
      • FRUSTRATED PARENT
        NinaMays This is my reality too - "relationship" with teachers is difficult when they won't co-operate with homework expectations, or follow up email - the schools complain that kids are on the internet - yet its them providing wifi passwords - so kids are playing in class - lying aboutMore homework - and since I'm not in the class, I have no idea until report cards surface.
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