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When Junior Won't Do Homework


Q. My son says "it doesn't matter" if he doesn't do his homework. He was trying to give me the impression that he wouldn't get in trouble if it wasn't turned in. But I called the teacher and found out that he's almost flunking. I just can't get him to buckle down and get anything done. Help!


Ouch! That's a tough situation. But you are not alone. Countless parents are encountering the same challenges as we speak. When you've clearly explained to your child how important doing well in school is, and how much you love him or her and care about the future, and yet the child STILL does not do the homework, it's extremely frustrating. But there are still many things you can do to turn this situation around. Here are some thoughts that might help:


         If a child does not want to obey, he lacks inner discipline.


         If the child can't discipline himself, there must be external discipline until he can get done what needs to get done.


         You are the one in charge of the external discipline.


         You should set up simple, clear rules, and simple, clear consequences for breaking those rules.


         If you have expressed those rules, and your child keeps breaking the rules and accepting the consequences, then you have a power struggle on your hands.


         If it's a power struggle, you might have to keep the child home from work and discipline him or her with isolation - no phone calls, no TV, no friends over, totally "grounded" - and chores, including the homework, with no return to school until the chores, including the homework, are done.


         If it seems to be a problem with just one subject, such as math, then talk with your child about how training yourself to do something you don't really want to do is good for your character, and in the long run, having a good character is more important than being an "A" student in math.


         Find a way to provide "supplementary" learning if the child finds the homework too hard. Most schools have tutors and mentors available free of charge; make a call and set something up!


         Or, if the child simply finds the homework is too easy or too boring, find ways to provide "complementary" learning. If the child completes a week's worth of homework, promise a Saturday trip to the university planetarium if he's crazy about astronomy, for example, or allow a sleepover party if your daughter hates doing her language arts worksheets but buckles down and gets them done for a month. Give "goodies" for effort! And give yourself a "goodie," too - a pat on the back for accepting a key challenge of parenthood, which is guiding a child into doing the right thing!




By Susan Darst Williams Homework 06 2008




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